In Depth

Should Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs be left in the 1930s?

Upcoming remake an example of representation ‘hypocrisy’ in film industry, says actor

Peter Dinklage has described Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs as a “backward” story due to its representation of dwarfs.

Speaking on Monday’s episode of WTF, a podcast hosted by American comedian Marc Maron, the Game of Thrones actor pointed to Disney’s live-action reboot of the 1937 animated film as an example of the “hypocrisy” he has witnessed in the film industry.

The princess will be played by West Side Story star Rachel Zegler in Marc Webb’s film, which is already in production. “I was a little taken aback when they were very proud to cast a Latina actress as Snow White,” Dinklage told Maron. He described the casting as “progressive”, but said ultimately the filmmakers were “still making the backward story of the seven dwarves living in the cave”. 

Zegler’s casting “marks a step in the right direction of Disney diversifying its Disney Princess characters”, Deadline said of the news last year. But Dinklage sees the remake itself as “a step backward for media representation of dwarfism”, said USA Today.

“That makes no sense to me,” said Dinklage, who has a form of dwarfism called achondroplasia. “Have I done nothing to advance the cause from my soapbox? I guess I’m not loud enough.”

The 52-year-old actor wished “all love and respect” to Zegler, “and all the people who thought they were doing the right thing”. But added: “I’m just like, what are you doing?” 

Disney responded with a statement, saying: “To avoid reinforcing stereotypes from the original animated film, we are taking a different approach with these seven characters and have been consulting with members of the dwarfism community.

“We look forward to sharing more as the film heads into production after a lengthy development period.”

Webb’s recreation of the animated classic “will have cultural consultants” on board, and “the studio has been re-imagining the dwarf characters since the earliest stages”, said The Hollywood Reporter.

According to The Wrap, “instead of dwarfs, Disney will fill the void with a group of what they describe as ‘magical creatures’”. The live-action remake also stars Gal Gadot as the Evil Queen. 

“It is unclear if they will inhabit the same roles as the dwarfs – will they be mining for jewels? Will they have names like Sleepy, Grumpy, and Bashful?”, the entertainment news site continued. 

Dinklage said he would be all for a new version of Snow White that put “its most f*****-up, cool, progressive spin on it”. But he said studios weren’t taking “risks” with productions, and relied instead on remakes.

The filmmakers knew they had a “cash cow with that story”, said WTF’s Maron, who thinks that opting to produce a remake would be a “no-brainer” for the studio. 

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