Why Are All Of Snow White’s Dwarves British?

Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarves

Not long ago, we pulled together a compilation of American things that the British had improved, and we mentioned that British actors often get cast as the bad guys in action movies. And this is something we all understand. The Brits do haughty very well, after all, and the bad guys in the movies always get their comeuppance, so there’s something satisfying about that.

But we’re a little baffled as to the casting behind the new movie Snow White and the Huntsman, in which Kristin Stewart plays the lead role. As you’ll know, in the Grimm Brothers fairy tale (and the Disney movie too) Snow White is the most beautiful girl in all the land, and she has to go into hiding after the jealous and evil Queen (played by Charlize Theron) orders a huntsman to take her into the forest and kill her.

In this new adaptation, which takes a similar approach to the source material as this year’s Red Riding Hood, Snow White forges a friendship with the huntsman, but still finds shelter and sanctuary at the house of the seven dwarves, who look after her.

They’re played by; the British character actor Ian McShane, the British character actor Bob Hoskins, the British character actor Ray Winstone, the British character actor Eddie Marsan, the British character actor Toby Jones, the British character actor Stephen Graham; and the British character actor and comedian Eddie Izzard.

To be frank, I’m not sure what this is supposed to say about the relationship between Britain and America. We’re nice, we’re full of character and talent, but our stature is greatly reduced when compared to your mighty heroism? Is that it?

And as if to rub salt into the wound, the dwarves’ names have been changed, possibly to mock the decline of our imperial past. Rather than going the Disney route and naming them after their own personality quirks – Happy, Grumpy, Preposterous etc. – this production has named all of the dwarves after ancient Roman emperors. Say hello to Caesar, Tiberius, Constantine, Claudius, Hadrian, Nero and Bashfu…sorry, Trajan.

Of course, if the dwarves were really British, they’d be called Ian, Clive, Fred, Adrian, Nigel, Alan and Torquil.

Is someone trying to tell us something? Tell us it here.

Fraser McAlpine

Fraser has been writing and broadcasting about music and popular culture for over 13 years, first at the Top of the Pops website, and most recently for the NME. He also wrote BBC Radio 1's Chart Blog and reviews albums for BBC Music.

He is Anglophenia's current resident Brit, blogging about British slang and running around the Mall taking snaps of the crowd at the Royal Wedding, as well as reigniting a childhood passion for classic Doctor Who and cramming as much music in as he can manage.

Fraser invites you to join him on Twitter: @csi_popmusic

See more posts by Fraser McAlpine