In the 1920s and 1930s, cartoons were short features shown in theaters before the main film. Walt Disney had already made his name in these short subjects by employing innovations like sound and color, and by creating the character of Mickey Mouse. But sound and color were becoming old hat, and the advent of the double feature meant that cartoons could only be about six minutes long.
Disney could have continued making distinctive short subjects within the expected parameters, but he had a different idea: He wanted to make an animated feature film. His wife was against the idea, thinking Disney was already doing fine with shorter cartoons. But he wouldn’t let go. His vision was an 83-minute cartoon that took years and millions of dollars to make. People called his absurd idea “Disney’s folly.”
But Disney’s vision and determination won the day. In 1937, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was declared Best Picture of the Year by the New York Film Critics Circle Awards and the Venice Film Festival, and Disney was awarded an honorary Academy Award.