Book review: The Fairest One of All

Olivier S. (NDD#263) (27 Posts)

Born in France (and still living there) I discovered WDW in the mid 1970's when I was 10 during a trip to Florida with my parents. Since then, I am a Disney fan, but also a WDW fan with EPCOT as the prefered park. The Contemporary is my "mythic" hotel even if I never stayed there: it´s because of its futurist look. By the way, I also encountered space exploration during the same trip by visiting KSC. And I am today working as the chief editor of a space news website for a scientific park in France. Guess you can see the importance of this Florida trip and the others after...


 

The Fairest One of All, a book about the making of Snow White.

The Fairest One of All, a book about the making of Snow White.

 

This massive book (320 pages and 12.6 x 11.2 x 1.3 inches in size) has received very positive reviews, even from people who are, by themselves, noted Disney historians such as Didier Ghez or Leonard Maltin.

Thanks to my mother in law, I’ve received “The Fairest One of All” as a gift, and I have to admit that this is one of the best books I’ve ever read about Disney in general! The author, J.B. Kaufman, is a film historian, and this masterpiece is not his first writing about Disney history. For example, he wrote the excellent “South of the Border with Disney” (about the goodwill trips done by Walt Disney to South America during World War II), another must-read. But let’s go back to “The Fairest One of All”. Of course, there is everything you are waiting for from such a book: production sketches, rough animation drawings, finished pictures, cut scenes, etc.

The text, however, is even more impressive. And that’s a good thing because, sometimes with Disney related books, we have lavish illustrations and a mundane text (no, I won’t give any titles…). That’s not the case here. J.B. Kaufman has done a fantastic job and you have the feeling that no stone is left unturned when it comes to telling you, as the subtitle of the book says, The Making Of Walt Disney’s Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs. Detailed and precise as an history book, however written in a page turner style, the text starts by the origins of the tale, its numerous adaptations in films and plays, including the famous 1916 Paramount movie that Walt Disney saw in its childhood.

fairest-production-sanguyBut what is downright fascinating is the analysis of the animated classic where Kaufman leaves the classical chronological order of events and tells  the story of the production behind each scene, including the scenes left on the cutting floor or even before. The reader then discovers the incredible amount of work done, and not only about animation, but also all these “hidden” tasks about the screenplay, the definition of the characters, their design, the dialog, the music, the songs etc. This is the core of the book, as a little more than 120 pages are devoted to this scene-by-scene analysis! The epoch, its mood, and how production was done at Disney studios back then are not forgotten, so you have the context as well.

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Even if Walt Disney himself is not the main subject of the book, he is in fact everywhere and, by reading the anecdotes about Walt’s involvement in the animated classic, you get a portrait of him as a creator. There’s not a doubt that Snow White is what we would qualify today as an author’s movie.
Of course, the release of the film, its success, and other stories like the return of the seven dwarfs for some short subjects are documented and it is equally a fantastic read.

 

“The Fairest One of All” is a must-have, and beyond its core subject, Snow White the animated classic, it gives you a front seat to a whole era when a man in California with a group of talented artists changed the cinema medium forever.

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Below is a video where the book is presented by its author J.B. Kaufman and the late Diane Disney Miller, daughter of Walt Disney.

“The Fairest One of All” – $75.00
By J.B. Kaufman
Foreword by Diane Disney Miller
Published by Walt Disney Family Foundation Press (October 2012)

On the Walt Disney Family Museum store