Just about every girl dreams of having some kind of fairy tale dream come true when she’s little. She wants to be a princess, have some prince come riding in on a white horse to take her away, and any number of things. Reality seldom presents the chance for the fiction to become fact, but for decades Disney has been creating animated works that at least let the dreams continue on, even for little girls who have grown into adulthood. Jasmine, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White are among many of Disney’s popular characters that little girls adore worldwide, but without a doubt the most enduring, and perhaps one the best known, is Cinderella and now all of her fairy tale dreams are back and making their way to high definition with the Diamond Edition blu-ray.
This is a story that everyone knows as it has been told time and time again with many different takes on the story. Walt Disney’s Cinderella, as well as all other versions of the story, is based on the tale of the same name written in the 17th century by Charles Perrault. Cinderella is the daughter of a wealthy father, but sadly her mother passed on at a young age. Feeling the need to marry again, he wed a woman who had to daughters herself; Drizzela and Anastasia. However, Cinderella’s father wasn’t long for the world and soon passed away himself. It was soon after that Cinderella saw the true nature of her step-mother; she was an evil and wicked woman who quickly spent the family fortune, was only out to make life better for her own daughters, and soon forced Cinderella to become a servant of the family.
Cinderella however does what she can, trying to make her step-mother and step-sisters as happy as she can; doing the mending, the laundry, cooking meals, cleaning, and anything else that they can think of. To keep her company, she has a number of animal friends including mice (who talk of course) birds, and her faithful dog Bruno. The king has decided to throw a ball in honor of his sons return, and hopefully to find him a bride, and every eligible maiden in the kingdom has been invited. However, Cinderella’s wicked step-mother and step-sisters have plans to keep her from going, but with the help of her kindly fairy Godmother, Cinderella will be the belle of the ball and win the Prince’s heart.
Cinderella is a timeless classic, though in researching the story and the film itself, I ran across a rather amusing quote in a review by someone who will remain nameless. Essentially he summed the tale up as being a stereotypical view of women. Let’s remember a couple of things before trying to call the movie sexist. First, the story was written in the 17th century although the story does date back much further and things were quite a bit different back then just as they were went Walk Disney was hard at work on the movie. Cinderella was a film that was six years in the making, technically more if you count in the other attempts that Walt had made at getting the film released, and as it was released in 1950, the attitudes towards women were again different than they are today. Cinderella shouldn’t be a movie that is seen as “stereotypical,” but instead a movie or story that is showing a past belief system that, for the most part at least, has been overcome in today’s society, but this is only a minor part of the story.
I vaguely remember seeing Cinderella when I was quite a few years young, and while this really does end up being a tale that is geared more towards women, there are some things that I don’t think I ever really noticed before. The animation is truly remarkable, and I spent a good deal of time while watching the movie thinking about the other movies that Walt Disney himself was involved in, and that it really does feel that since his passing, the quality of Disney’s animated films has declined a little. One very important thing about the animation is that Disney actually filmed a good deal of live action sequences prior to animating the film, and much of what you see in Cinderella is based from this. This gives the film a very lifelike quality, but more importantly, I noticed a number of things that you just don’t see too often. There are many little nuances, hand gestures and very slight but noticeable things in the animation that normally are completely overlooked by animators. If you’ve seen any of the films from Studio Ghibli, especially those that Miyazaki has worked on, you’ll notice many of these same traits and characteristics, and it’s honestly one thing that animators these days tend to forget about. There is a great amount of intricate detail in the animation from beginning to end and memorable scenes, such as Cinderella magically getting her gown from her Fairy Godmother and a number of other things that really sit well in one’s mind. In particular, the sequence featuring Cinderella cleaning and her image being reflected in soap bubbles really has to be one of the best pieces of animations that I’ve ever seen.
Much like Snow White, Cinderella is the star of the movie, and her handsome Prince barely gets any screen time at all. This is another thing that makes me question why someone would even consider this to be a film that is sexist. It’s due to unfortunate circumstances that Cinderella is in the position that she’s in, and the tale ultimately has a happy ending when her love finally comes to save her from her miserable life. If anything, I would object to the idea of people finding love in but an evening and getting married, though it does happen.
The other major attraction though has to be the mice; everyone loves them. They will do anything for “Cinderelly,” not a surprise since she’s saved them, clothed them, gives them food, and even helps them out when Lucifer the cat is after them. In return they even try and make her gown for the ball, which ultimately is destroyed by her jealous stepsisters. The mice however are played off not just as helpers, but also a form of comedy to lighten the mood at times. They have their own song as well, another thing that is always important in Disney’s animated features. You’ve got to have a number of songs, and while I’m not necessarily a fan of it, I would have to say that these songs are composed really well and stick in my mind much better than some of the newer Disney music does.
Sixty plus years can find a movie taking on a great deal of deterioration in terms of picture, and as the case has been with many of the re-issues of older films, Disney has put together a team to restore Cinderella to its original glory. Of course Disney already worked on restoring the film a few years back when they released the movie on DVD, but the blu-ray not only retains that same impressive quality but it also has an incredible transfer just like the other Disney classics which have to come blu-ray. Of course when the movie was released theatrically back in 1950, widescreen hadn’t become the norm so Cinderella still uses a 1.33:1 aspect ratio, but once again as seen with other past Disney releases, there is also the DisneyView mode to fill in those annoying black bars.
Cinderella on blu-ray includes many of the special features found on the DVD which are included in the Classic Backstage Disney portion but it also has some new features as well. There’s an introduction by Diane Disney Miller, a look at the creation of the Fairy Godmother, a look at the renovation of the castle and expansion of Fantasyland, a new short with Cinderella and Rapunzel and plenty more. The disc also features Disney’s second screen option although this time it’s an interactive storybook entitled Bibbidi-Bobbidi-You. As usual, Disney has included plenty of old and new extras for the fans as well as both a DVD and digital copy of the film.
I may not have had dreams of being a princess when I was younger for obvious reasons, but I do see why so many people have been enamored with Cinderella for so many years. There’s a reason why one of the first things that you see when you walk into Disneyland is Cinderella’s castle sitting proudly in the center of the Magic Kingdom. This is a film that transcends time, can forgo gender, and is enjoyable simply because it takes a very simple concept and sticks with it from start to finish; if you simply believe, your dreams will come true, and it is a timeless piece of wisdom that is showcased perfectly in this animated classic.
Mike is the resident reviewer for Couponing to Disney and his own site Underland Online. He has a toddler daughter and is obsessed with Haunted Mansion and all things Disney. You can read Mike’s complete bio here.