- “A perfect disguise!”
- ―After her transformation
The Witch is a disguised form of The Evil Queen from the classic Disney film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937. When the Queen needed a way to get rid of Snow White once and for all for because of her beauty, she turns herself into a witch as a disguise. The Witch has become an iconic character in from the film and one of Disney's most memorable villains. She was voiced by the same actress as her alter-ego.
Design and Animation
The Witch resembles hags in European illustrations of fairy tales, in particular Arthur Rackham's illustration for Hansel and Gretel; a similar character was used in the Silly Symphonies short Babes in the Woods. Disney may also have been influenced by stage traditions, such as transformation scenes in which the hag is transformed into a beautiful fairy godmother. Many of the artists at the studio tried designs for the Queen's Witch form; Joe Grant's pastel designs for the character were ultimately approved and used as the model for the animators to follow. Norman Ferguson was thought to have been cast as animator of the Witch because of his skill at creating a lifelike effect while not actually being able to animate a living creature. He initially found difficulty in animating the Witch, as her illustration-influenced design was not thought to lend itself perfectly to animation, and there was concern that the witch would amuse, rather than intimidate, the audience. However, Ferguson animated the Witch with respect to acting and personality rather than inner emotions. He set part of the Witch's phrases to the melody of a popular song of the time and animated to this rhythm, singing to himself as he drew. Notably, the Witch is the only character who occasionally looks directly into the camera and appear to address the audience; it is likely that this is because Ferguson's approach was inspired by vaudeville performers. Live-action footage for the Witch was shot of actors Don Brodie and Moroni Olsen, who performed in drag. Ferguson's animation was also partially influenced by Lionel Barrymore's drag performance in The Devil Doll. As a result, the Witch possesses certain masculine qualities that make her seem more aggressive and dangerous. John Lounsbury was Ferguson's assistant in animating the Witch, and animated the scene in which the Witch disappears underneath a trapdoor, cackling that Snow White will be "buried alive". In story meetings concerning the transformation sequence, and the sequence at the cauldron, Walt Disney made reference to Dr. Rotwang's laboratory in Fritz Lang's Metropolis and the scene in Macbeth in which the three witches brew their potion. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is another influence. The sequence in which the Witch rows a boat from the catacombs underneath the castle suggests the influence of an illustration of Charon by Gustave Dore for Dante's Inferno.
The Witch, being an alternate form of the Queen, has some of her personality traits, most notably her vanity and unstable jealousy of Snow White, kept intact. However, due in part to the transformation, she has also become more outwardly maniacal and sadistic, constantly cackling insanely as well as once trying to play an extremely cruel joke on her pet raven by making it seem as though she wants it to eat the poisoned apple. Despite her insanity, she was also extremely intelligent and calculating, wanting to ensure that she not overlook anything in order to make her plans an absolute success. This trait was especially evident in her stopping herself while gloating about how the poisoned apple will ensure Snow White's eventual demise in order to look up whether there was a cure to the effects of the poisoned apple that would cause her plans to fail.
The Witch had some skill with alchemy and brewing potions, as evidenced by her brewing the concoction that resulted in her creation, and also her brewing the concoction that created the poison apple.
Despite her appearance, and her being overwhelmed by the animals, she also possessed some superhuman durability, having survived both falling down and being crushed by a rock.
The Queen's Transformation
One night the Queen once again consults the slave in the Magic Mirror, who tells her that Snow White is living in the cottage of the Seven Dwarfs and that the Huntsman has brought her a pig's heart. Furious, the Queen descends a spiral staircase, entering a dark chamber filled with arcane and magical artifacts, as well as a raven perched on a skull. The Queen decides to go to the cottage herself, disguised as a peddler. Consulting a potions book on disguises, she mixes the required potion ingredients and drinks it, grabs her neck and tightly squeezes it until she effectively died. But she succeeds, transforms into the Witch and comes back to life when the transformation was complete. She ends up remaining in this form for the rest of her life. She reads through an unnamed book (supposedly a book of death spells) and decides that the method she is going to use is the Sleeping Death, which the only ingredients that are needed are an apple and a cauldron of poison.
The Poisoned Apple
The Witch brews the poison and dips an apple into the brew, turning the fruit a tempting red. (During this scene, she is speaking directly to the audience.) She reads that the victim of the poison can be revived by 'Love's First Kiss', but convinces herself that the Dwarfs will bury the poisoned Snow White. Cackling to herself, she puts the apple in a basket, and walks down through the dungeon below, emerging from the castle's catacombs in a raft. As she makes her way to the dwarfs' cottage, two sinister vultures see her and, sensing that death is imminent, quietly pursue her.
Pursuing Snow White
She reaches the cottage and, according to plan, finds that the Dwarfs have left and Snow White is alone. Catching the girl by surprise, the Witch offers her the apple, but is attacked by the animals of the forest (who sense danger when they notice the two wicked vultures). Snow White does not recognize any danger in the old woman and lets her into the house to offer her a drink of water, while the animals rush to find the Dwarfs. The Witch tells Snow White that the apple will grant wishes, and, knowing of Snow White's romance with the Prince, persuades her to wish for a happy reunion before taking a bite. Snow White falls to the floor, taken by the Sleeping Death, and the Witch cackles with glee as a storm starts outside.
The Witch's Defeat
The dwarfs arrive in time to see her leave and, led by Grumpy, chase her up a tall mountain and corner her on a cliff. She attempts to crush them by dislodging a huge rock with them beneath it, but lightning strikes the cliff ledge, she is standing on causing her to fall hundreds of feet off the mountain. As she falls the rock tumbles down after her. The dwarfs watch as the two wicked vultures fly down to her body at the bottom of the cliff.
After the comic adaptation of Snow White, the Queen, in her hag form, returned as a recurring antagonist to the Seven Dwarfs, and later many other Disney protagonists, occasionally teaming up with fellow Disney villains like Pete and Captain Hook. Nonetheless, she has occasionally cooperated with protagonistic characters, such as being taught to fly at one point by Tinkerbell. One story in the 1980s provided an explanation for her return, and why she couldn't change back to her normal form. In two 1940s stories, it was also revealed that she had a deceitful twin brother.
The Witch appears in the animated series. The Queen constantly transforms into The Witch at will.
The Witch also appears in Mickey's House of Villains.
The Witch appears in the show. Back in the Enchanted Forest, the shot moves down on the market place where Jefferson, the Mad Hatter sells his mushrooms. He and his daughter Grace are out shopping and Grace runs off to a stall as something has caught her eye, a stuffed white rabbit. "Wouldn't he make the perfect guest for our tea parties, papa?" Grace asks, cradling the rabbit, asking if she can have him. Jefferson smiles at his daughter and turns to the old lady running the stall, "Excue me, how much for the rabbit?" he asks her. She tells him it costs five silvers, but all he has is coppers, the ugly old woman doesn't accept this, telling him she she cannot take less than one silver. Jefferson seems disappointed and the old woman snatches the rabbit from Grace's arms, "It's okay papa, let's go, people are waiting." Grace tells him, Jefferson is refusant to leave, "I will not take 'no' for an answer." he tells the hag. Grace asks him to stop, saying that she doesn't need it. Jefferson ponders this in his head, "Come on, sweetie." he tells his daughter before walking away from the stall. The old woman walks round to her carriage where her Magic Mirror begins to speak, "Well, that was awfully cruel, you could have at least have the little girl have her toy." he says. "Where's the fun in that?" asks Regina's voice coming from the old woman's body, her face flashes from the old hag, to Regina, and back to the hag, revealing that it's the Evil Queen in disguise. She lets out a cackle.
In Terra's scenario, the Queen asks him to bring her Snow White's heart, and would allow Terra to ask her Magic Mirror about Master Xehanort's whereabouts in return. Terra fails in this endeavor, causing her darkness to grow in her anger. She takes control of her mirror to fight Terra, who wins the battle. The Queen reluctantly allows Terra to use her mirror and begins plotting how to kill Snow White once Terra leaves.
In Ventus's scenario, she appears under the disguise of an old hag and prepares to carry the poisoned apple to Snow White, but drops it on her way. Ventus, unaware of her motives, politely gives the apple back. She also tells Ventus how deep Terra is dabbling into darkness.
Some time between Ventus and Aqua's scenarios, the Queen succeeds in having Snow White eat the poisoned apple. She is then only briefly mentioned in Aqua's storyline by the Seven Dwarfs, who tell Aqua they chased away the Queen following her foul deeds. The Magic Mirror later tells Aqua that the Queen is dead and he is no longer under her control.
The Witch actually first appears in the original game on Snow White's awakening along with the dwarfs, Snow White and forest animals.
The Queen herself did not appear; however, her Witch Form, as well as the Poison Apple, did. In the game, there are robotic enemies known as Beetleworx, made by The Mad Doctor to help Oswald the Lucky Rabbit build the Cartoon Wasteland, and move characters to their new homes. Once the Shadow Blot arrived, however, the Mad Doctor reprogrammed his Beetleworx. Among these enemies, are large types with canons that shoot paint and thinner, and have a painted shell that Mickey must erase. One of these "shells" has the head of the witch form of Queen Grimhilde, the body of the poison apple, and their guns look like bottles of poison, even marked with skulls and crossbones. These enemies only appear in the Lonesome Manor level, after irritating the Organ in the Ball Room, or in the Attic.
The Witch appears as an uncommon walk-around character at the Disney parks around the world.
On the Disney Cruise Line ships, the Witch is one of the villain suspects in the interactive attraction "Midship Detective Agency". If she turns out to be the culprit, Mickey, Donald and Goofy track her down and successfully put her behind bars, where the poisoned apple falls on her head and knocks her out.
When the Queen plots to destroy Mickey Mouse during his dream, she transforms herself into a witch to summon various Disney Villains to help her with her evil plan. In the end of the show The Witch transforms back into The Queen as she dies.
In the Tokyo DisneySea version of the show, the Witch takes over Mickey's dream by using the Magic Mirror to imprison Mickey. She calls on help from Ursula and Chernabog as she does in the Disneyland show, though she introduces them both individually. The Queen only appears when the Witch and the villains are destroyed, as she appears in the show already transformed.
Much of the ride is focused around the Queen and her Witch form, appearing throughout the ride, pursuing Snow White and popping out at guests, concluding with her attempt to crush the guests with a boulder, which she succeeded in doing in the Disney World ride's original dark ending.
The Witch appears at the very end of the ride, looking through the window of the cottage and turning towards the guests, cackling before the train pulls into the unload area.
The Candy Cauldron, a candy shop at the West Side of Walt Disney World's Downtown Disney district, is themed around Snow White, specifically the Witch and the Queen, with freshly made candy apples serving as the shop's specialty.
- The Witch makes a cameo appearance in "Runaway Brain," as the apple-throwing opponent of the player, who plays Dopey, in a Mortal Kombat-esque game played by Mickey Mouse.
- The Witch also makes a very brief cameo appearance in Who Framed Roger Rabbit. She can be seen being helped into an apple shop in the bottom right hand corner of the shot in which Eddie Valiant gets out of the crashed car. Going by the fact that Snow White is helping her get into the Apple Shop, she may not have a grudge against Snow White in this continuity.
- The Witch makes a cameo in a political cartoon in 2007, where she is the clerk at a cashier and holding up the poisoned apple, with her cloak also having the words FDA adorned on it with one of the customers suggesting they search for another firm, carrying the obvious implication that the Food and Drug Administration was becoming as bad as the Witch from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
- The Witch was compared with Emperor Palpatine, the main villain of the Star Wars franchise, by film historian Robin Wood. Coincidentally, both the witch and Palpatine gained severe disfigurations of their otherwise normal selves from lightning that they summoned: In the Witch's case, she (while still in her Queen form) summoned lightning to act as an ingredient for the potion to turn her into the witch in the first place; in Palpatine's case, it was the result of his Force Lightning being redirected at himself by Mace Windu when he attempted to blast him with it, although it was implied that this was actually his true face as a result of decades of being immersed in the Dark Side of the Force. Both also, shortly after their transformations, put on a black cloak and hood, which they wear for the rest of their lives. Both are also the main antagonists (and only true overall antagonists) in their respective franchise.
- In the Goof Troop episode "Midnight Movie Madness", Goofy mentions that Max was so scared of the Witch that he "had hiccups for a week".
- An allusion to the Witch is made in the Emperor's New School episode "Squeakend at Bucky's." When Yzma looks for a piece of sleep-inducing fruit to put Bucky the Squirrel to sleep, she comes across an apple and dismisses it as "too wicked witchy."