on July 21, 2006
Disney made its mark as a major studio in 1937 with its first full-length feature film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Ironically, given this early success, Snow White was their only hit movie for the next 13 years. World War II kicked the hell out of Disney's overseas markets. Even movies today regarded as classic Disney - Pinnochio, Bambi, Fantasia - lost money on initial release. Disney eked through by diversifying into training films for the US government, and the South American films that were part of FDR's Good Neighbor policy, etc. - stuff that made back its costs but not much more. By 1948, Disney was in dire financial straits. They had just enough money for one more movie. Walt Disney realized he needed a hit or his studio probably wouldn't survive, and it would have to be what they did best: a full-length animated feature film. Walt said to himself, "What we need is a movie about a girl in trouble. Audiences love that. They loved Snow White." That's what he wanted: a movie like Snow White, but even more so - more comedy, more drama, more magic, more music, more lovable characters. He chose as the basis of his company's Hail Mary pass arguably the most famous fairy tale in the world: Cinderella.
Disney didn't have the money, as they had on earlier films, to lavishly storyboard every scene. Thus they hit upon the wonderfully clever idea of shooting the entire movie in live action, then the animators used stills from that as storyboards. The photos used survive to this day, and many are provided as a Special Edition "extra." In some cases these photos have the animator's drawings over them, turning for instance an almost bare stage into a hall in Cinderella's family chateau.
In 1950, Cinderella was released and was everything Disney so desperately needed. Even today, Cinderella is arguably the best movie Disney's ever made. It's just awfully hard to argue with any aspect of this film. The animation artwork was a product of Disney's famous "Nine Old Men" - at that time not yet old. Cinderella pulls off, superbly, something not particularly easy to do: it integrates believable human characters with funny cartoon animals and makes it work. From Eric Larson and Marc Davis' beautiful and graceful Cinderella to Ward Kimball's wonderful Jaq and Gus-Gus the mice and over-the-top Lucifer the cat, everything flows together so well it all seems perfectly natural.
Part of Walt Disney's plan to out-Snow White Snow White with Cinderella involved its music. He very consciously wanted Cinderella to be a source of hit songs. There had been hit songs from Disney films before ("Heigh Ho" and "Whistle While You Work" from Snow White, "When You Wish Upon a Star" from Pinnochio, etc.) but they'd been almost accidental. "Oh, we have a hit song, well, that's nice." For Cinderella, Disney for the first time went to Tin Pan Alley (28th Street in New York City where the professional songwriters could be found). Disney wanted his girl's music done by the very best craftsmen, the guys who wrote hit songs for a living. The Cinderella soundtrack hit big (a #1 album with 3/4 million units sold) with songs even today considered quintessential Disney, most notably "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes" from the movie's opening scene, "The Work Song" while the animals help Cinderella clean the house and simultaneously build her ball gown, and "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo" (nominated for an Academy Award as best movie song of the year) from the Fairy Godmother transformation scene.
For their best movie, Disney apparently spared no expense producing the DVD. Not only has the picture quality been digitally restored, but the audio has also been cleaned up with a new 5.1 surround sound mix. Totally gone is the background hiss associated with so many old movies. (Cinderella has the distinction of being "the noisiest movie ever restored" according to its audio crew.) The original mono soundtrack has also been spruced and is provided as an option for purists.
A word about the movie's aspect ratio (i.e. how wide the picture is compared to its height). The DVD cover says Cinderella is presented in its "Original Full-Screen Aspect Ratio (1.33:1)". This is untrue. Virtually all sound films until 1953, including Cinderella, were 1.37:1. Since a TV screen is 1.33:1, you don't lose a lot when the original is "formatted to fit your television." I just wish they hadn't lied about it.
Cinderella ends at breakneck pace: we go straight from her foot sliding into the glass slipper to the wedding to Happily Ever After, bing, bang, boom. Walt Disney believed "Audiences like a happy ending, but they don't like a happy ending that goes on too long." Hey, who am I to argue? Well, maybe I'll argue. A DVD extra addresses scenes originally planned for the movie but not actually used. One of these would have occurred after the fitting of the glass slipper and before the wedding: Cinderella is taken by the Grand Duke to the castle in her normal everyday clothes; the first time Prince Charming sees her since the ball she's not wearing a lovely gown, she's wearing her scullery maid outfit. Cinderella is frightened, how will he react when he realizes she's not a fine lady but a poor servant girl? And of course he doesn't care how she's dressed, he loves her anyway. I can **see** that scene in my mind, it would have worked beautifully. This is the one way in which an almost perfect movie could have been even a tiny bit better.
Stunning new 2-disc `Platinum Edition' of Disney's 1950 fairytale confection CINDERELLA. The story is as old as the hills: Cinderella is mistreated horribly by her cruel Stepmother and stepsisters Anastasia and Drisella. Her only friends are some pet mice, the birds and her faithful dog and horse. When the Prince invites all the eligible maidens in the land to his grand ball, Cinderella is heartbroken when her Stepmother forbids her to go. Enter the magical Fairy Godmother, who, with a little "Bibiddi Bobiddi Boo" magic, enables Cinderella to live out her happily-ever-after dream.
From a historical perspective, the Disney studio was pinning it's future on the success of CINDERELLA. World War II had virtually wiped out the studio's international market and films like PINOCCHIO, BAMBI and FANTASIA had lost a lot of money on their initial releases.
Disney has performed a complete restoration on the film, including an extensive frame-by-frame cleanup of the original camera negative and the result is eye-popping (almost alarmingly-so as every hint of speckle, dirt and debris has been removed). The film looks showroom-new and it's hard to believe the thing was actually made over 50 years ago. Likewise the soundtrack has been sweetened with Disney furnishing the film with an all-new "Enhanced Home Theatre" 5.1 mix. But purists need not worry, as the original mono soundtrack is also included.
There are some fantastic extras on Disc Two including an all-new `Making-Of' documentary which features recent interviews with Ilene Woods (voice of Cinderella), Mike Douglas (the Prince) and Lucille Bliss (Anastasia). "The Art of Mary Blair" is an invaluable look into the life of the revered Disney concept artist and designer; "The Cinderella That Almost Was" hosted by Don Hahn explores the scenes, songs and characters that were considered but eventually cut from the final film. "Disney's Nine Old Men" is a charming segment hosted by Joel Siegel which has the leading Disney animators of today remembering the trailblazers who created the classic Disney animated masterpieces.
There is also a charming clip from Perry Como's television show which publicised the film with a performance from Ilene Woods. A clip from "The Mickey Mouse Club" features Helene Stanley (the live-action reference model for the Cinderella character) enacting a scene with the help of the Mouseketeers. There are also extensive galleries, interactive games and DVD-ROM components.
There are however some needless (and downright questionable) extras like the ESPN Classic "Cinderella Stories" programme, which profiles sport celebrities and their rise to fame. Just what exactly does all this have to do with Disney's Cinderella? Plain boring old filler. That said, the rest of the package is outstanding. For Disney collectors and families everywhere, this is a must-own.
on November 25, 2005
I looked forward to this DVD release for months and snagged a copy the first day it was available. My excitement turned to dismay, however, as I began to watch it. From the moment the birds open the curtains to reveal Cinderella in her bed, it became painfully obvious that Disney truly had "enhanced" the picture to within an inch of its life. Instead of restoring this beloved classic film, the images have been changed; this is NOT Cinderella as she was first seen in 1950. Just to make sure I wasn't mistaken, I did a comparison between my parents VHS tape (the original video release) and the DVD. True, the picture on the DVD was much sharper and the sound was crystal clear, but Cinderella's hair was NEVER that color of yellow, and lines that were part of the original animators drawings, faithfully inked and painted onto the original cells, are no longer visible. For instance, right at the beginning of the film, when Cinderella turns over in her bed to shut out the sun, there were originally clearly drawn/inked lines in her blanket to show the drapery of the fabric. Those lines, obvious in the VHS version, are now only visible if you zoom in on them. Similar editorial decisions on the part of the DVD authors are evident throughout the film, though they decrease in frequency as the film progresses. It could be said these changes don't matter much, but they truly affect the look of the film. I often found myself thinking it looked like a Scooby-Doo cartoon, a far cry from any Disney classic. Although I understand that Disney owns this intellectual property in the legal sense, I don't understand why the've chosen to disrespect that very property, especially in light of their excellent work on Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Bambi, etc. Hopefully, this is an anomaly and Disney won't continue to offer us disfigured films.
on October 9, 2005
Walt Disney's animated CINDERELLA (1950) is such a magical and effortless blend of suspense, romance, and comedy that it is hard to believe thirty years went into the planning of it and that the fate of the studio in 1949 literally depended upon its success. Fortunately, the resulting film is a masterpiece of animation that was both a critical and box office success when it opened in 1950; and it received three Oscar nominations, two for its wonderful song score.
Disney starts with the basic story, as always: Cinderella and Prince Charming; the evil Stepmother and grotesque stepdaughters; a fancy ball and the importance of midnight. But then he adds suspense with Lucifer the cat and great humor with the intrepid mice Gus and Jaq. Watch when Cinderella is locked in the tower and the mice are trying to get the key out of Stepmother's pocket, then ascend the huge stairs that are seen from a mouse perspective. And watch the scene with one mouse hiding under one of three coffee cups, but which cup? This is suspense that Hitchcock would admire. But it is also hilarious as Jaq and Gus keep outwitting Lucifer; and poignant when the stepdaughters do something awful to Cinderella, like ripping her dress, and the mice help out with "The Work Song" to make her a new dress.
The songs are fabulous and romantic and funny: "Sing Sweet Nightingale," "So This Is Love," "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes" and the Oscar-nominated "Bippidy-Bobbidy-Boo". They are by Mack David, Jerry Livingston, and Al Hoffman. The perfect character voices include Ilene Woods as Cinderella, Eleanor Audley as the terrifying Stepmother, and Verna Felton as the nice Fairy Godmother.
This CINDERELLA has always had a warm place in the Disney Studios' heart, and not just because it made it possible for the studio to stay open after 1950 and for the creation of Disneyland. It is wonderful entertainment for all ages. And the brand-new Technicolor re-creation looks like it was done frame by frame to remove every single speck of dust and scratch; the color just shimmers and the images are crystal-clear. And the celebrated song score and soundtrack (the third Oscar nomination) sounds glorious and brand-new.
Disk 2 of the double disk has at least three hours (I didn't bother with Games & Activities) of bonus material. Included are two wonderful deleted songs that I wish had not been deleted, a 1922 Cinderella Laugh-o-Gram, a portrait of the Nine Old Men (original animators), the story of stylish and colorful animator Mary Blair (who designed It's a Small World at Disneyland), making CINDERELLA and "The CINDERELLA That Almost Was", voice talents and just the right songs, Cinderella Ilene Woods on THE PERRY COMO SHOW in 1949 and doing radio spots. I gave up when confronted with another 17 minutes of Unused Songs at 11:40 p.m. Allot a whole evening for disk two.
The double disk CINDERELLA is a fabulous Technicolor sight and sound restoration, one of the most beautiful I have ever seen as a film scholar. It belongs in every home with a child or a fairy tale lover. Walt must be smiling down from Heaven in joy. Whether you want the huge Collector's DVD Gift Set is a question of how much you adore CINDERELLA. It includes a beautiful hardback book on the story and the making of the movie, step by step, which are on disk two of the movie set. The gift set also includes eight lithograph character sketches and one piece of film in plastic. Most people will be more than satisfied with the simple double disk of the movie, but you should at least know there is an elaborate DVD gift set. Happy viewing! (REVIEWED FROM COLLECTOR'S DVD GIFT SET)
on September 9, 2002
I believe that the 1950 Disney adaption of the fairy tale by Charles Perrault is one of the most popular Disney movies released since 1937. This movie is funny, sad, and charming at the same time, which may sound impossible for some movies.
I have watched this movie since I was 2, and I am now 12, and let me tell you that after 10 years, you never get tired of it. I have the Masterpiece copy on this page, and it is very, very worn out, so I cannot wait for Disney to re-release this classic on Disney VHS and DVD in 2007, so I can buy it and technically get my hands on it! :)
Anyway, this movie is about a girl named Cinderella, who's father and mother have both died. She is forced to live with her vain and ugly stepsisters and cruel stepmother, and furthermore is forced to become a slave in her own home.
Cinderella's only friends are the loyal mice, the birds, the dog an also the horse. One day, an invatation arrives from the palace, stating that every eligible maiden in the kingdom has to attend to a royal ball, honoring the return of the prince.
Cinderella's stepmother lies to her, saying she can go only if she gets her chores done, and if she finds something suitable to wear.
She does all her chores, while her animal friends make a dress for her. Sadly, the stepsisters tear it up, and leave. However, Cinderella meets her Fairy Godmother, who sends her off to the ball, but she has to be back before the stroke of midnight, otherwise, the spell will be broke...
Enjoy this Disney masterpiece once again, which proves that dreams can come true.
In an effort to revive his sagging animation department, Walt Disney turned once again to a fairy tale. This time around, he chose one of the best known and oldest of them all, Cinderella.
The tale is familiar. A beautiful girl is abused by her stepmother and stepsisters and forced to work as their slave. When a ball is given for all the eligible maidens in the kingdom, Cinderella dreams of going too, only to have her hopes dashed at the last minute. With a gift of magic, she is able to go, but only until the stroke of midnight.
The story is so well known, if fact, that any story about an underdog coming from behind and winning is called a Cinderella story. Disney's job here was to make the story entertaining for 75 minutes. The solution here was creating the animals. Mice Jaq and Gus and their constant struggle against the evil cat Lucifer is funny and tying this sub-plot to the ultimate outcome is brilliant. The other standout character is the stepmother who is frighteningly evil with no super powers.
As with any Disney movie, this one also has great songs. Arguably the best known is "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo." Right behind it is "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes." My favorite, however, is the often overlooked love song "So This is Love."
While not the best release in the Platinum series, it still stacks up well. The movie has been restored, and it looks great to me. I'm not a nitpicker, but I can't find any problems with the full frame picture, the original aspect ratio. There is an enhanced 5.1 home theater mix, which doesn't seem quite as impressive as some other releases. It seems more like the sound coming equally from all speakers. Of course, given the age of the film, there probably isn't much more they could do. For purists, there is an original soundtrack on the disc as well.
The extras in this set seem to be split between content for kids and adults, with the kids winning. Disc one includes a new version of "A Dream is a Wish" with the stars of several Disney Channel series. It also has several "Cinderella stories" in sports moments, a weird feature to me. Disc two includes several features about living like a princess.
Also on disc two are the bonus features adult fans of this movie will want to watch. There are two "deleted scenes," which are really abandoned songs with the storyboards created for them. In edition there are more abandoned songs with no storyboards on here. It's pretty interesting watching how various ideas went from one form to another before finally making it into the movie. Other extras include a thirty-eight minute documentary about the creation of the show, including achieved interviews with the animators behind the show. We are also treated to an overview of how the movie progressed over the years it was in development, a tribute to the "Nine Old Men," Disney's "Laugh-O-Gram" version of the story from 1922, and radio promotion from the time. I was thrilled to see trailers from the movie's multiple releases here. Unfortunately, there is no commentary in sight.
This Platinum DVD release means that all of Disney's animated movies have been put on DVD at some point in the last few years. While the Platinum series isn't quite as nice for adult fans as they used to be, this is still a release that fans of the movie will want to pick up.
on October 15, 2002
I am simply amazed with the animation technology. When watching you don't actually realize that the actors are portrayed by cartoon characters. It is so realistic, and harmoniously pleasing to the ears. The musical scenes intertwined with the storyline is simply outstanding. When you watch a movie I believe that the main objective is to be entertained and taken away from the daily grind, transported to a magical, pleasing and positive place. This movie based on a fairytale does exacting that. It is a story about a young girl whose only living relatives are a mean and vicious stepmother and two equally dispicable stepsisters. She is turned into the one and only household servant whose only friends are the animals that surround her and assist her with her chores whenever possible. They even help her recreate and old dress to wear to the ball. Their efforts were only to be thwarted by the wicked stepsisters who shred the dress. It is then that Cinderella meets her fairy godmother. She makes her dream come true and goes to the ball in style-with a few interesting stipulations. A wonderful family movie to be enjoyed by all ages young and old.
There are two well known versions of Cinderella, the French version and the German Brothers Grimm. Disney and Rodgers & Hammerstein used the more family friendly French version and Sondheim & Lapine used the more grisly Brothers Grimm.
The story is very simple. A young girl's father remarries to vain and cruel woman with two daughters of her own. Her father dies and the stepmother turns Cinderella into a servant.
The King wants his only child, the Prince to marry. So he holds a ball with all the eligible maidens. The evil stepmother and her two daughters attend but make sure that Cinderella does not. Come to the rescue Fairy Godmother. She does her magic and uses Cinderella's animal friend. The Prince sees Cinderella and instantly falls in love. But she has to leave before midnight and only leaves her glass slipper.
A search for true love begins!
This is a fun version of the fairy tale with the most violent villains of all three main versions of the story. This is still a great movie but if you want the best get the Leslie Ann Warren version of the Rogers & Hammerstein TV special.
Disc One -
Cinderella Stories presented by ESPN Classic: Joe Namath host 10 sports "Cinderella Stories" from teams like NY Jets in Superbowl III and 1980 US Hockey Team to individuals like Lance Armstrong and Mia Hamm. You can watch all ten or just the ones that you want. These are superficial but can be inspirational for young kids. (Total running time 34 minutes)
Music & More - Two music videos and a making of video (9 minutes total) A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes is done by Disney Channel stars and shows that with today's technology anyone can be made to sound alright. It also shows how you can take a great song and make it into drivel. This is followed by making of video. Every Girl Can be a Princess which uses clips from all the Disney "Princess" films. The song was written for a Princess album. It actually is very nice.
Disc Two -
Deleted Scenes - Two deleted scenes and an introduction by Don Hahn (Producer of Beauty and the Beast. The Cinderella Work song is newly recorded and has the original storyboards. Dancing on a Cloud is the original recording with the original storyboards. (10 Minutes)
Music & More -
Cinderella & Perry Como: A 7 minute excerpt of his show promoting the film. Perry narrates with Ilene Woods (Cinderella) and the Fontaine Sisters as the mice singing the song live. The end is a jazz version of Bibbidy Boobity Boo by Perry, Ilene and the sisters - this is great.
Cinderella Title Song: Original demo recording probably by the song writers (no storyboards). (2 minutes)
Unused Songs: 7 songs not used in the film - audio only (17 minutes). Disney animated films always had unused songs. Usually, the scene that it is used in was cut but sometimes it just didn't advance the story and this was the number one rule of songs. They do not give singing credits on these.
Radio Programs: Three radio program excerpts promoting Ilene Woods (12 minutes) - Village Store introduces Ilene as Disney's choice for Cinderella and she sings When You Wish Upon a Star. Gulf Oil Presents Ilene sings A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes. Scouting the Star with no singing.
Games & Activities -
House of Royalty: Three six minute vignettes on Look - Live - Act Like a Princess. These are for the youngsters only and they probably will not watch them more than once. Although Act Like a Princess has some tips everyone could use.
The Royal Life - DVD ROM game in which you can point and click to make your dream castle, ball gown or bedroom.
Princess Pajama Jam - A really silly 3 minute game on dancing like a princess. It would have been better if this lasted longer as a child's exercise program but it is really an advert for the Princess Party DVD.
Backstage Disney -
From Rags to Riches: The Making of Cinderella - Four featurettes totaling 39 minutes. This is actually an indepth look at not only the film but Disney and has interviews (from 1995) with the original animators. The section on the voice casting is really interesting as many of the voices were well known character actresses. It is really great.
The Cinderella That Almost Was: This is a 14 minute featurette on the genesis of the story from a Silly Symphony to various early incarnations that were never used. It is very interesting to see what didn't make it into the film.
From Walt's Table: A Tribute to Disney's Nine Old Men - This is a 22 minute round table discussion with today's top animated film makers discussing the original nine animators. It is nice but nothing special.
The Art of Mary Blair - A fifteen minute tribute to the artist who helped conceive the style of many Disney animated features.
Storyboard to Film Comparison: Opening Sequence - A seven minute comparison of the film to the original story boards or live action reference shot. These are always fun to watch.
Cinderella Still Galleries - Massive stills galleries from concept drawings to posters
1922 Laugh-o-Grams: Cinderella - An early animated short based on Cinderella set in current times.
Excerpt from The Mickey Mouse Club with Helene Stanley (1955): A four minute sequence with live action model Helene Stanley.
on March 3, 2005
It's finally coming! There is a preview for it on the new Bambi disc!
My well-worn tape from the mid-90s will at long last be replaced by a DVD! They've made us wait so long for this one and Bambi -- my Bambi tape is from 1989, quite fuzzy and dark -- I could hardly stand it!
Rejoice, Disney animation fans! The date is set!
on November 12, 2005
We got this for our 3 year old daugther who is obsessed with all things Disney. She absolutely loves this movie and it is the only movie she requests anymore. She loves all the animals that are in it and she always dances during "Bippety Boppity Boo."
We like it because there are no scary villians or "tense" scenes like most Disney cartoons have. Of course, the stepmother is not nice to Cinderella, but our daughter just talks about how she is not being nice. It's also nice because it's not too long of a movie.