The 1819 Grimm version of the story, like many fairy tales, begins with a queen wishing for a daughter. After pricking her finger while sewing, three drops of blood land on the snow, and the queen is struck by the beautiful contrast, thinking, “If only I had a child as white as snow, as red as blood, and as black like snow is wood in this frame.” Soon after, the queen is blessed with the birth of a daughter, but the queen dies in childbirth.
Within a year, the king remarried “a beautiful woman, but she was proud and arrogant” (per Grimm). The new queen fears that someone might eclipse her beauty, so she asks her magic mirror if she’s still the most beautiful. Everything is fine until Snow White gets prettier, and then all hell breaks loose. In this version of the Grimm tale, the king is never mentioned again, leaving us wondering if he died too, or if he allows his new wife to mistreat Snow White.
Disney’s version skips Snow White’s origins and sets the stage by telling us that Snow White lives with her “wicked stepmother,” who dresses Snow White in rags and has her work as a “kitchen maid.” Snow White’s parents are not mentioned in the Disney classic, leading viewers to assume both parents are dead. Tor’s Mari Ness suggested the story be streamlined due to the time constraint of an 88-minute running time.