Immersed in Blu-ray: Snow White and Bridge of Spies

Last week Disney released Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs on Blu-ray with a slew of new bonus features along with Steven Spielberg’s Oscar-contending Bridge of Spies with Tom Hanks and Mark Rylance.

Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), which launches the new Blu-ray Signature Collection, revolutionized the art of animation with its cutting edge technique, design and storytelling —  setting animation in pursuit of an ever more realistic look. Moreover, it demonstrated animation’s viability as a legitimate cinematic art form. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences bestowed a special Academy Award on Disney, recognizing Snow White as “a significant screen innovation which has charmed millions and pioneered a great new entertainment field.” The unique Oscar trophy consisted of one full-sized statuette standing next to seven miniature versions. The film also earned an Oscar nomination for Leigh Harline’s memorable score.

In 1997, Snow White was named one of the 100 Greatest Films of All Time by the American Film Institute (AFI). The following year, the AFI named it the greatest American animated film of all time.

Featuring In-Depth Brand New Bonus Material Including “In Walt’s Words: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” “Iconography,” “Disney Animation: Designing Disney’s First Princess,” “The Fairest Facts of Them All: 7 Facts You May Not Know About Snow White,” “Snow White in Seventy Seconds,” “Alternate Sequence: The Prince Meets Snow White”, the recently discovered and restored Oswald the Lucky Rabbit short “Hungry Hobos” (digital exclusive).

“Hungry Hobos” is available with the purchase of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs on the Blu-ray/DVD/Digital HD set, or for download at

Meanwhile, Bridge of Spies, the fact-based Cold War spy thriller (which couldn’t be timelier) is nominated for six Oscars (best picture and best adapted screenplay, as well as best supporting actor Rylance, best production design from Adam Stockhausen, best score from Thomas Newman and best sound mixing).

For Stockhausen (last year’s Oscar winner for The Grand Budapest Hotel), the big advantage was access to real footage of the construction of the Berlin Wall, which has never been depicted before in a Hollywood movie. This was key in recreating an authentic-looking war-torn East Berlin in the Polish town of Breslau, which borders Germany, along with using the actual Glienicke Bridge in Berlin, where the titular swap of spies occurred.

“So much of the Berlin section takes place in East Berlin that it was important to get that look, which we found in Poland,” said Stockhausen.“The Wall was constructed on a large street and with a square and Checkpoint Charlie,” Stockhausen continued. “We filmed the Gary Powers Berlin sequence in the basement of the former KGB prison that is now a museum. Upstairs in the same prison is where we shot the detention cell scene with James Donovan [the Brooklyn attorney played by Tom Hanks, who craftily negotiated the exchange of Powers for Soviet spy Rudolf Abel, portrayed by Rylance]. It was emotionally significant to be shooting in places that were the real thing when we could.”

Spielberg gave his sound team a gift by opening Bridge of Spies with a Hitchcock-inspired chase through the New York subway with no dialogue and a sense of mystery surrounding Abel.

Oscar-winning re-recording mixers Andy Nelson (dialogue and music) and Gary Rydstrom (sound effects) teamed up once again for a movie in which ambience plays an important sonic role. It’s the late 1950s and there’s a stark contrast between booming New York and chilly East Berlin.

Down on the platform Steven wanted to create a few different languages of people passing by to sense that multicultural influence in New York, and the distraction of someone’s line or a giggle or a laugh as they walk past them,” explained Nelson, who’s nominated with Rydstrom this year for both Bridge of Spies and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. “It makes you move your head around. And, of course, in the midst of this crowd, the agents are losing their prey. It was about creating the normal distraction on a subway train and not many people speaking.”

“What was interesting was the Wall was being built brick by brick, by hand,” Rydstrom emphasized. “There are trucks and cranes that have a nice idling engine sound, but the important sound isn’t the equipment or the bricks — it’s the people. That was surprising to me because what do you do if you’re standing there and they’re building a wall between you and someone you love? So that’s where the specially loop group comes in handy, especially those that speak German, to do very specific tasks for the crowd on either side of the Wall. The voices become the key sound for the building of the Wall scene.”

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Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Animation, Below the Line, Blu-ray, Clips, Crafts, Home Entertainment, Movies, Music, Oscar, Shorts, Sound, Tech, Trailers

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