Old comments made by Rachel Zegler, star of the upcoming Disney live-action remake of Snow White, have resurfaced and sparked controversy among some purists and fans of the original film, including the son of the original’s director David Hand.
Who is David Hand’s son and what did he say? David Hand is the 91-year-old son of the original Snow White director, also named David Hand. The younger Hand spent time working with The Walt Disney Company in the 1990s as a designer. Speaking with The Telegraph about the new film, he bemoaned:
I’m afraid of what they’re going to do with the early films… their thoughts are just so radical now. They change the stories, they change the thought processes of the characters, they just aren’t the original stories anymore. They’re making up new woke things and I’m just not into any of that. I find it quite frankly a bit insulting that they may have done with some of these classic films. There’s no respect for what Disney did and what my dad did… I think Walt and he would be turning in their graves.
What was the context of The Telegraph interview? The publication was speaking with Hand after comments Zegler made at the 2022 D23 Expo resurfaced. At the time, she said:
I just mean that it’s no longer 1937. We absolutely wrote a Snow White that — she’s not going to be saved by the prince, and she’s not going to be dreaming about true love. She’s dreaming about becoming the leader she knows she can be and the leader that her late father told her that she could be if she was fearless, fair, brave, and true… We have a different approach to what I’m sure a lot of people will assume is a love story just because we cast a guy in the movie… It’s one of those things that I think everyone’s going to have their assumptions about what it’s actually going to be, but it’s really not about the love story at all, which is really, really wonderful.
Who else has chimed in? Disney legend Tim Rice, the lyricist behind dozens of hit musicals including several Disney films such as The Lion King and Aladdin, was asked for his opinion on the matter by the conservative British outlet GB News. Rice has been involved in several of Disney’s live-action remakes, and in the case of Snow White argued:
Why call it a remake? Why not just make a new film with an exciting story?… If a cartoon worked so brilliantly like Little Mermaid did or even like Snow White did back in 1937 when even I wasn’t around, it’s often a mistake to try and redo it.
In the interview, Rice also took exception with Zegler’s characterization of the Snow White character, saying:
In actual fact, the character Snow White in that early film isn’t just a cipher, she makes a few decisions and she’s a very good and nice person. But you can’t do that again now, and why would you want to? Because it’s been done very well.
He went on to say that he thinks Disney would be better off making an entirely new film rather than classifying something so different as a remake.
Disney’s live-action Snow White is scheduled to open on March 22, 2024.