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J.R.R Tolkien and C.S. Lewis Bonded Over Hating Disney’s Snow White

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A scene from the animated classic, 'Snow White' (Disney)
A scene from the animated classic, ‘Snow White’ (Disney)

J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis disagreed about a lot of things, but when it came to hating Walt Disney, they were kindred spirits.

The two authors saw Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs together and both panned the animated flick. Lewis huffed that “the dwarfs’ jazz party was pretty bad,” and didn’t think much of their character design, specifically their “bloated, drunken, low comedy faces.” Tolkien also had issues with Disney’s portrayal of dwarfs, and called Disney’s works “vulgar” and “hopelessly corrupted.”

A portrait of the British writer and philologist J.R.R. Tolkien (Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)
A portrait of the British writer and philologist J.R.R. Tolkien (Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)

Given that both men were pioneers of fantasy literature and acclaimed scholars, perhaps its understandable why they’d have strong opinions about dwarfs and their treatment in Disney films.

But their complaints went beyond plot points. Letters written by both men indicate that they both found Walt Disney himself to be a crass profit-seeker who distorted folklore for mass consumption. Tolkien describes Disney as a “cheat” in some letters, and Lewis is even more damning in his. “What might not have come of it,” he asks, “if [Disney] had been educated–or even brought up in a decent society?”

Read Atlas Obscura’s take on the now infamous movie date.

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