The Queen's Castle is a location featured in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Though externally the archetype of a Fairy Tale castle (appropriately used as the backdrop for the film's poster to suggest the genre and nature of the film), its walls hide many dark and arcane secrets.
Places of Interest
Courtyard: The Courtyard is the location of the wishing well; here, Snow White sings I'm Wishing as she cleans, attracting the attention of the Prince, who climbs over the wall to meet her. As he sings One Song to her, the Queen watches from the window of her chamber high above the lovers, and furiously closes the curtains, jealous of the Prince's affections for Snow White. The courtyard is the only area of the castle shown in the film which does not reflect the Queen's personality.
Royal Chambers: The Queen's Chambers are elaborately decorated to suit her vanity. The Queen rarely seems to leave her chambers; she watches events unfold below her from her window. A spiral staircase leads to the dungeon below.
Magic Mirror Chamber: The Magic Mirror is located behind a blue curtain in a special chamber in the castle. Every morning, the Queen approaches the mirror (sometimes closing the curtains after her, implying that the Mirror is a possession she wishes to keep secret) and asks who the fairest one of all is; when the Mirror names Snow White fairest of all, the jealous Queen plots to do away with her stepdaughter.
Throne Room: The Throne Room is appropriately decorated with a relief of a peacock to reflect the Queen's vanity. The throne is raised; the Queen thus addresses all her subjects from above. Humbert the Huntsman is summoned to the throneroom, and ordered by the Queen to kill Snow White and remove her heart.
Dungeons: A spiral staircase connects the castle's lavish upper rooms to the rat-infested dungeons. This area of the castle is used by the Queen to house both her enemies (whom she starves to death) and most of her arcane magical artifacts. It consists of several levels, the lowest of which leads out into the water surrounding the castle.
Laboratory: When the Queen learns from the Magic Mirror that the Huntsman has failed to carry out her orders, she descends into her laboratory. Here, the Raven is perched on a skull. The laboratory is filled with potions and magical ingredients, which the Queen mixes in various glass tubes and bottles. Here, the Queen transforms into the Witch, and prepares the Poisoned Apple to kill Snow White.
Dock: A trapdoor in the floor of the laboratory allows access to a flight of stone steps, leading further into the dungeons. This chamber is lined with cells, the homes of many former prisoners. The Witch sees one skeleton in a final attempts to reach a jug of water, and kicks the now empty jug at the skeleton, shattering the skull. Another flight of steps leads to a stone platform, where a small boat is moored. The Witch rows the boat through a tunnel leading outside of the castle, and reaches the shore leading to the forest. It is likely that this secret way of entering and leaving the castle is used by the Queen and her minions to keep the inhabitants of the nearby town ignorant of many of her underhanded deeds.
Behind the Scenes
The castle may have been inspired by Segovia Castle in Spain. Buildings in Bavaria, the Rhineland and Cyprus are also alleged to have been inspiration. Though the castle was primarily designed, like all locations in the film, by Albert Hurter, Ferdinand Hovarth also made hundreds of inspirational sketches of the building and its chambers, suggesting the decadence above and the horror below; similarities have been noted between Hovarth's designs for the dungeons and Piranesi's Carceri etchings. Another possible inspiration for the dock in the dungeons is Gustave Dore's illustration of Charon at the entrance to Hell in "Dante's Divine Comedy".
The opening shot of the castle, half in shadow, half in sunlight, has been interpreted by some as symbolic of the presence of both good (Snow White) and evil (the Queen) in the castle - notably, when Snow White no longer inhabits the castle, it is shown in complete darkness, at night.
Imprisoning the Prince
It was originally planned that, jealous of the Prince's affections for Snow White, the Queen would have him brought to her, and she would have him locked in her dungeon. As the Witch, she would have made the skeletons in the dungeon get up and dance. She would have left the Prince in the dungeon, and he was to escape in the manner of Errol Flynn, enabling him to reach Snow White and break the spell. The idea was abandoned when it was realised how difficult it was to animate the Prince convincingly, and the character only appeared when he needed to further the story, which centred primarily around the relationship between Snow White and the Queen.
However, comics released to promote the film include such scenes; the Witch locks up the Prince and tells him what her plans are for Snow White, telling him that she will win his affections, while the Prince is defiant. Later, as the animators became more experienced at animating human characters, a similar concept was used in Sleeping Beauty, in which Maleficent has Prince Phillip captured and taken to the Forbidden Mountains, where she shows him visions of the future she has planned for him.
Stirring the Cauldron
A very short sequence involving the Witch stirring her cauldron was fully animated and completed, and was among the scenes cut from the film by Walt Disney at the last minute. In the sequence, the Raven looks on as the Witch stirs the cauldron with a huge bone. She pauses to see that the smoke rising from the brew is shaped like skulls, and adds a drop of an unknown ingredient to the concoction:
"Boil, cauldron, boil. Boil, cauldron, boil. Death within your depths I see, for one who dares to rival me. Through the magical recipe, boil, cauldron, boil."
At this, smoke from the cauldron fills the room. This sequence would have occurred immediately after the scene of the Seven Dwarfs going to sleep in their cottage; the sequence would have been followed by the scene in which the Witch dips the apple into the brew to make it poisonous.