Thursday, June 26, 2014

1938 Czech Snow White Insert

With rave reviews and early successes--like the Grand Art Trophy from the 1938 Venice Film Festival--the initial release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs had roused the public's interest throughout a Europe on the brink of war. In former Czechoslovakia, it was one of the first movies to be dubbed into the Czech language. The Barrandov Studios in Prague worked to create the audio track, which was sent to the Disney Studio in Hollywood. As was done with many of the  international prints, Disney animators also replaced the illustrated English text (e.g., the Dwarfs' names on their beds) with those in another language, in this case, with Czech words.

The film played for three months in Prague and the government was so grateful for this special version that Disney did not have to pay the usual exhibition taxes.

This insert poster dates from the 1938 release, but because the prints took some time to complete, we can see that the film was still arriving to Czech theatres in 1939. Glued to the top of the poster is an advertisement for the screening of Sněhurka at the local cinema Bio Slavia on April 22-23, 1939. The show times for both days were 2:30, 5:00 and 7:30 pm.

The text goes something like this::
The first feature-length, animated, colorful, sound, spoken in Czech and stereoscopic picture by Walt Disney:

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Unique work, that has thrilled the entire world and now brings even your admiration. The film honored by Grand Biennale Art Trophy in 1938.

Lithograph printed by Dolezal, Cerveny kostelec (noted in the small print to left and above Dwarfs).

A rough translation of the red lettering at the bottom reads:
Movie? - No!

Unique event of the week!

Unique revelation of fairy-tale wonders!

Unique experience of unfathomable beauty!

Unique work that has fascinated the whole world and now brings even your admiration!

A RKO Radio Films release.

Not exactly sure what "ATL LB Hoffmann" stands for, possibly the poster artist or a Czech movie distributor?

Reverse side is blank. Poster measures 96 x 31cm (37.5" x 12.25"); with glued advertisement, it's 106cm (41.75") tall.

It's interesting to note that at this time, Czechoslovakia was already under Nazi occupation. As such, Snow White might have also been introduced with German subtitles. It's said that highly placed Nazi officers had to ask for permission to borrow a copy of the film for private screenings. So maybe this German version wasn't for public showings, yet again, it might have been--as indicated by the poster below. The original title is pasted over with another written in both German and Czech. There was an actual German-language dub created in Amsterdam in 1938, but it never played openly in Germany until after the war.

Special thanks to Martin Maxa for his assistance with this post. Additional info courtesy of Greg Philip of A Lost Film.

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