Monday, September 10, 2012

Deleted Scenes - Witch at Cauldron

During the production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Walt Disney and his directors divided the film into 16 separate sequences, so as to make the monumental task of animating it more manageable. In actuality, there are many more than this since most of the sequences are further divided into sub-categories (e.g., Sequence 3A, 3B, 3C, etc.).

Sequence 9A takes place in the Queen's laboratory where the "Old Hag" stands over her cauldron. In the film, when all the Dwarfs finally doze off to sleep after their merry-making at the cottage, the story cuts back to this scene. It was directed by Bill Cottrell. In the version we all know, the steam clears and she's seen dunking the apple into her poisonous brew...

Screen images copyright Disney. Used here for historical documentation purposes.


Sequence 9A was not originally meant to start with the apple-dunking. The scene actually began with a long shot that slowly moves in on the cackling Witch. Her Raven is seen stage-right perched atop the skull upon the table...



With a poison-filled vial grasped tightly in her right hand, she stirs the boiling cauldron counter-clockwise with her left...



In a manner reminiscent of the Witches' Spell from Macbeth, voice-actor Lucille La Verne smashingly delivers the following lines:
Boil cauldron, boil.
Boil cauldron, boil.
Death within your depths I see
For one who dares to rival me.
During this incantation, we see vapor rise from the bubbling stew to briefly take the shape of one, two, three skulls...



She then tips the vial to add the last deadly ingredient...



The yellow mixture turns a sickish green, and the incantation concludes with:
Brew the magical recipe.
Boil cauldron, boil!
A huge blast of steam fills the room. When the air begins to clear, the sequence continues with the dunking of the apple...



These scenes were fully inked, painted, animated and photographed by September 1937. Then in November, just one month before the premiere, the scene of the Witch dunking the apple was re-shot and became the new beginning for Sequence 9A. Like the other deleted scenes throughout the film, these of the Witch stirring her cauldron were probably cut simply to tighten the story.

Altogether, the cauldron deleted scenes last approximately 34 seconds. The Witch and Raven were animated by Norm Ferguson. Special effect animation was completed by George Rowley (cauldron bubbles and steam), Paul Satterfield (steam and liquid in vial), and Reuben Timmons (steam). Page 292, The Fairest One of All, J.B. Kaufman.

To the dismay of many a Snow White fan, the cauldron piece was not included among the deleted scenes on the 2009 Blu-ray home video release. However, for those who own the earlier 2001 DVD, you can enjoy this short but powerful bit of animation history.


2001 Snow White DVD, North American NTSC version, Disc 2...



On Disc 2, navigate from the Magic Mirror menu to The Dwarfs' Mine, then to Deleted Scenes...



And for those lucky enough to own the 1994 Deluxe LaserDisc (and a player to view it with), the cauldron pencil test is included as an extra.

16 comments:

  1. Thank you so much Robert this is my favourite deleted sequence and I was amazed when they unaccountably missed it out of the completist Blu Ray in October 2009!

    I think it completes the Apple Dipping sequence rather than holds up the story! It also shows how evil the Wicked Queen is and adds to her character!

    What do other readers think?

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    1. As a video editor myself, I do understand the power of tightening a story. Throwing out your "babies", so to speak, to move a film along is often a necessary (and wise) thing to do to make it work. Walt was an expert at this. Even the cutting of just a few seconds here and a couple there can make a tremendous difference in timing and in holding the audience.

      So I do understand why this cauldron scene was cut back in 1937, but at the same time, of all the deleted scenes axed from Snow White, this is the one that could have stayed in without changing the tempo too much. It's definitely a beaut! And it does indeed complete the apple-dipping sequence.

      I am happy that Disney has it well preserved and did include it on the 2001 DVD. Hopefully it, along with the pencil test, will be part of the next home video release...maybe in 2017 for the 80th anniversary???

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  2. I also remember that a small part of the beginning was included in The Making of Snow White Documentary on the first disc from the 2001 DVD :) I think many would agree that if Disney were to reattach this scene along with the other scenes to the film aand give it a theatrical reissue (not in 3-D) this year to celebrate its 75th anniversary, it would be so awesome! So many fans, including myself, would be more than satisfied!

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    1. That would be awesome for a 75th anniversary release!

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  3. It's amazing that the scene got to the point of being fully animated, inked & photographed. You have to admire Walt for being willing to cut something that surely cost a bundle of money, all in the name of making the movie as perfect as possible.

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    1. It was a fairly remarkable way to think, that the quality of the final film was more important than the money he was spending on it. That's our Walt! Not an ideal adhered to by most corporates of today.

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  4. Oh my goodness, I need to see this !!! Lol, thank you for sharing this with us !! :)

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    1. You're welcome Alexandre. It's a short scene but done quite well.

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  5. I think that scene would have been great to put into the movie :) as for now it's just a scene who someone cut off kind of brutal with a pair of scissors :P It's working, of course, but it would have been interesting to see the whole process of the poisoning thing. Yes I have a thing for the Hag, she freaks me out but she's still fascinating! Love your blog btw!

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    1. Thanks Cecilia. I know what you mean about the Hag. :)

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  6. As a fan of Snow White growing up my siblings and I always watched the movie. My mother found a 2nd movie which was titled, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarf Elves". i remember the plot like it was yesterday, but i cant find it anywhere. Would anyone know where it would be? i think that is a deleted scene/movie EVERYONE would love to see.

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    1. Hi Antonie, Thanks for your comment. I have not heard of the movie, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarf Elves", but I will see if I can find any information on it.

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  7. I gather that originally they were planning to cover the other attempts on the life of Snow White by the Wicked Queen ( the poisoned comb and too tightly tied stays ) and the final title card of Snow White still includes the poisoned comb with hairs attached! I hope the 80th Anniversary Special Edition Snow White UHD Blu Ray will include both the pencil tests and finished Boil Cauldron Boil sequence!

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    1. That would be great if they do! I don't recall seeing the final title card with the poisoned comb. Do you have a closeup pic of it?

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  8. Another thing I recall reading about Snow White is the Dopey Music In Your Soup sequence was supposed to end when the soap forcibly expelled from Dopey's tummy is fired through the air and the tablet of soap is impaled on the wall by a spoon which was then intended to segue to the Wicked Queen's splendid Art Deco Heart Box with its motif of the knife through the heart clasp!

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    1. I hadn't heard about this Wobble. Sounds like it would have been an interesting (and humorous) set of animations.

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