Raven is a minor character in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Its purpose in the film is as something for the Queen to speak to (mostly as the Witch) in order for plot points to be conveyed to the audience. It appears to be intimidated by the Queen, and terrified by the Witch.
Role in the film
The bird seems to live in the Queen's laboratory in the dungeon of her castle. When first seen, the raven is sleeping, perched on a skull; it wakes when she enters, and is startled by the effects of the ingredients of her potion. The raven is frightened by the Queen in her Witch form, and hides in the skull, peering out of its sockets. It watches the Witch preparing the poisoned apple, and as such is terrified when the Witch, as a cruel joke, offers the raven the apple. The raven is not seen after the Witch leaves the castle, leaving its fate uncertain.
Behind the scenes
The Raven is one of several characters used to interact with the Queen to add conviction to her character. Joe Grant knew the work of Wilhelm Busch, and it is likely that he was inspired by an 1894 Busch illustration of a raven perched on a skull. Robin Allan, "Walt Disney and Europe" (Indiana University Press, Indiana, 1999)
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 thy depths I see, for one who dares to rival me. Brew the magic 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.