David Hand, whose father of the same name was one of the directors of the 1937 Disney film Snow White, is weighing in on the controversy surrounding the upcoming live-action remake.
Hand, 91, said that both his father, who died in 1986 at age 86, and Walt Disney would be “turning in their grave[s]” if they were alive to see the new adaptation, which is set for a 2024 release.
“There’s no respect for what Disney did and what my dad did,” Hand said during a Friday, August 18, interview with The Telegraph, after noting that he “totally disagree[s]” with the direction of the upcoming film.
Hand also said that Disney has become “radical” with its approach to updating old movies. “They just aren’t the original stories anymore. They’re making up new woke things and I’m just not into any of that,” he said. “I find it, quite frankly, a bit insulting [what they] have done with some of these classic films.”
The Snow White remake first sparked backlash in June 2021 when Deadline confirmed that Rachel Zegler, who is of Colombian and Polish descent, had landed the role of the titular princess.
Zegler, 22, has faced online hate from racist trolls since the casting announcement. Last month, she took to social media to say she’d had enough.
“Extremely appreciative of the love i feel from those defending me online, but please don’t tag me in the nonsensical discourse about my casting,” she wrote via Twitter at the time. “I really, truly do not want to see it.”
Zegler drew further criticism when an Extra interview from September 2022 resurfaced this month. In the clip, the West Side Story actress said she was “scared” of the original film and criticized the “weird” nature of the love story. “[The prince] literally stalks her,” she said before explaining how the remake would focus more on Snow White’s autonomy.
“She’s not going to be saved by the prince and she’s not going to be dreaming about true love,” Zegler said of her character. “She’s dreaming about becoming the leader she knows she can be and the leader that her late father told her that she could be if she was fearless, fair, brave and true.”
Hand, who met the OG Snow White, Adriana Caselotti, while she was alive, told The Telegraph that the late actress would be “terrified” by suggestions that her character wasn’t a feminist. (Caselotti died at age 80 in 1997.)
In addition to controversy surrounding Zegler, the film made headlines when Peter Dinklage, who has a form of dwarfism known as achondroplasia, raised concerns about how the film would handle the dwarves central to the original fairytale.
“It makes no sense to me. You’re progressive in one way and you’re still making that f–king backward story about seven dwarves living in a cave together. What the f–k are you doing, man?” the Game of Thrones alum, 54, said during a January 2022 appearance on Marc Maron’s “WTF” podcast. “Literally no offense to anything, but I was sort of taken aback. They were very proud to cast a Latina actress as Snow White, but you’re still telling the story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”
In response, a rep for Disney said in a statement that the company was “taking a different approach with these seven characters” to “avoid reinforcing stereotypes” and had been “consulting with members of the dwarfism community.”
The controversy was reignited last month when photos purporting to show the new “dwarves” appeared online. Some social media users were quick to point out that several of the actors didn’t seem to have dwarfism while other racist and sexist commenters complained about the group containing Black actors and women.
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Although a Disney rep initially told The Daily Beast that “the photos are fake and not from our production,” the company later clarified that the snaps were real but not “official.”