The Magic Mirror is an object first featured in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Within dwells the Slave in the Magic Mirror, an imprisoned spirit (resembling a theatrical mask, surrounded by smoke and fire) who always speaks the truth, normally in verse form. The Magic Mirror has appeared many times since its debut in 1937, in television specials such as the annual Halloween Treat to Disneyland attractions such as the show Fantasmic!. In such appearances the Slave in the Magic Mirror is referred to as the premier expert on the Disney Villains, and, while sometimes depicted as sympathizing with them (as in the Cinderella's Castle Mystery Tour at Tokyo Disneyland), is sometimes shown to dislike them (as in his role as host of the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs DVD). Faithful to his first appearance, the spirit is most frequently depicted as a slave, though owners have varied, ranging from the Queen to Walt Disney himself.
In Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the Magic Mirror was voiced by Moroni Olsen and animated by Wolfgang Reitherman. Starting in 1992 British-American voice actor Tony Jay took over the role and continued to voice the character until his death in 2006. Starting with Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, Corey Burton is now the current voice actor.
- 1 Appearances
- 2 Behind the Scenes
- 3 References
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Revealing Snow White's Beauty
The film's introduction (told in the form of a book) informs the audience that the Evil Queen consults the Magic Mirror every morning, demanding to know who is fairest of all; as long as the Slave in the Mirror answers that the Queen is the fairest, she is content, knowing that the Mirror never lies. However, fearing that her stepdaughter, Snow White, may one day become more beautiful than she, the Queen dresses the girl in rags and forces her to work as a maid in the Queen's Castle. The first scene of the film releals that the Mirror hangs in the Queen's private chamber; she walks to the mirror and summons the slave within, who appears amid smoke and fire. When asked who the fairest of all is, for the first time the spirit replies that, while the Queen is beautiful, a fairer being exists. When the Queen angrily asks for the girl's name; the spirit describes her, making it obvious to the Queen that Snow White is the one being referred to. The Queen then orders her huntsman to kill Snow White.
Revealing the Huntsman's Betrayal
The evening following Snow White's introduction to the Seven Dwarfs, the Queen again consults the Mirror, presenting it with what she believes to be Snow White's heart. Though the Queen at first believes the spirit to be incorrect, she is told that she holds the heart of a pig, and that Snow White still lives, in the Cottage of the Seven Dwarfs. This is the last appearance of the Mirror in the film; Whether the slave within is free following the Queen's death, whether the Mirror is broken, or whether it simply remains, unharmed, in the castle is unclear; like the Huntsman and the Raven, the Mirror is a minor character and is primarily used as a way of advancing the story of the Evil Queen.
The narrator of Halloween Treat comments that Halloween is the time for the villain to steal the limelight, and introduces the audience to a special guest, the Magic Mirror, said to be an expert on the Disney Villains. Actor Hans Conried, under make-up, plays the spirit, who informs the audience of the importance of the villain in a story in order for the hero to look good. The Mirror's presentation includes clips of the defeats of Captain Hook, Madam Mim and Maleficent, each of whom is sympathised with. The slave in the Magic Mirror proceeds to discuss Disney's female villains, including, Cruella De Vil, Lady Tremaine, and the The Queen of Hearts. Madame Medusa is then introduced but pulls out her gun; as she inadvertantly shoots at the Mirror, the spirit decides to leave.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Platinum Edition
Voiced by Tony Jay, the Magic Mirror appears as the host of the menus of the two-disc Platinum Edition DVD of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The viewer acts as the Mirror's 'master', and tells the Mirror where to 'transport' them by making a selection on the menu. Not making any selection for a certain amount causes the spirit in the Magic Mirror to make various prompts for the viewer to do so ("I haven't got all eternity, you know... Oh, wait, I do."). The menus on both discs are a variety of locations in the film. The DVD game "Dopey's Mine Ride", accessible from the special features on the first disc, is also narrated by the Magic Mirror, who explains each of the challenges presented to the player (mostly questions relating to the film). The spirit in the Magic Mirror does not appear to sympathise with the Queen ("She has... issues"), and appears sympathetic towards the player. The Magic Mirror is also used to enable the 'Guided Tour' feature on the first disc. Selecting this feature causes the Mirror to introduce the viewer to Roy E. Disney, whom the spirit adresses as 'master'. Roy Disney then uses the Magic Mirror to 'summon' Angela Lansbury, who hosts a tour of the features on the DVD.
Theme Park Appearances
The Evil Queen appears in the second act of Fantasmic!, and asks the Magic Mirror who the fairest one of all is. The Mirror, voiced by Tony Jay and projected onto water screens, replies that Mickey Mouse's imagination creates fairer things than she. Jealous, the Queen transforms herself into the Witch and uses the Mirror to summon various 'forces of evil', including Ursula, Cruella De Vil (only in Florida), Scar (only in Florida), Judge Claude Frollo (only in Florida), Jafar (only in Florida), Hades (only in Florida), Chernabog and Maleficent. Mickey is able to defeat the villains.
Cinderella's Castle Mystery Tour
The Cinderella's Castle Mystery Your begins when the guide shows visitors pictures of Disney Heroes and Heroines. These suddenly transform into pictures of the Disney Villains, and the Magic Mirror appears (played by an actor in make-up), explaining that the villains are misunderstood. The tour is hosted primarily by a guide, who leads visitors through various chambers throughout the castle, exploring the lairs of the Evil Queen, Maleficent and Horned King. The Magic Mirror's voice can occasionally be heard throughout the tour.
Behind the Scenes
In order to produce the Slave in the Magic Mirror's 'weird voice', actor Moroni Olsen spoke his lines with his head in a frame covered with old drumheads.
Animator Wolfgang Reitherman found the task of animating the Magic Mirror difficult, particularly as the animator favoured animating characters such as Goofy, who expresses himself by moving his entire body; the face in the mirror does not move about and has no pupils, so Reitherman was only able to animate its eye and mouth shapes to accompany the dialogue. In order to make the face completely symmetrical, for each extreme pose Reitherman drew one half of the face, folded the animation paper in half, and traced the other half. This, symmetry, to an extent, was lost in the final film, as special effects, including smoke, fire and ripples, distort the features. Reitherman animated the Mirror nine times before he and Walt Disney were satisfied.
- Popular Mechanix Article: Andrew R. Boone, "The Making of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" (January 1938)
- John Canemaker, "Walt Disney's Nine Old Men and the Art of Animation" (Disney Editions, United States, 2001) ISBN 078686496-6