Ah yes, the golden child — finally, right? I feel we’ve had to endure some mighty terrible ones to get to you. And yet, I was expecting worse from this one, strangely. I highly underestimated the old princess ones it would seem. So — onto number neuf, then?
The usual background: Cinderella was Disney’s jump into the 50s, where his movies suddenly became quite, well — how do I put it nicely? — fantastic, with Cinderella starting us off with its release in 1950. What surprised me the most about the opening credits to this one was the fact that it was based off Charles Perrault’s Cinderella tale and not the other versions, such as Brothers’ Grimm. Which I suppose makes sense, considering Disney would strive to stray as far from Grimm as possible (look at Snow White). I actually read Perrualt’s version for the first time very recently for a uni course! So — go Disney for variation.
This story was quite consistent with the fairy tale book theme in the beginning, like most of the other princess and storybook tales he’s done. What was refreshing about Cinderella was that she didn’t start out as a princess, in fact, she started out as the opposite. The story is very consistent in terms of where it starts, where it’s going, and where it ends. We have no real questions as we go through and everything that happens, for the most part, makes sense, especially if you are familiar with the original fairy tales themselves. Cinderella starts off as a poor kitchen wench to her own “family”, shedding light on how awkward living in an abusive family is because, what do you do? Cinderella followed their orders without much complaint because again — what DO you do? How else do you handle that sort of situation besides ranting to your animal friends and then getting the family’s orders out of the way as quickly as you can? Speaking of animal friends — the consistency with them is pretty great. They are always there to help and it makes sense because she was nice to them and even gave them fitting clothes when everyone else was afraid of them or wanted to eat them (mainly the mice in this scenario). And then we have the sub-plot of the prince’s story and probably the first Disney movie to have a successful sub-plot. We see that his father has specific plans for him he doesn’t want to meet and is having a huge row about it, which leads us to the ball. Then of course, it makes sense why Cinderella can’t go initially, and even the fairy Godmother makes sense because, if you’re familiar with Perrault, she’s by a tree when she cries for help. The tree is supposed to be where her mother is buried, hence the magical Godmother figure. It makes sense in the tale, all right? But also is portrayed well here. Along with everything else. Even the fact that Cinderella loses her slipper is consistent because we see her lose it early on in the movie, when it “doesn’t matter”. This was also a beautiful use of foreshadow — by the way. Kudos, Disney. She’s simply walking up the stairs with her hands full when she loses a slipper! Brilliant, really. And even after she’s married to the prince, she loses a slipper again! Oh Cinderelli…
With the above in mind, this movie greatly surprised me with an array of fantastically brilliant and vibrant characters that all really shine as their own personas. The King, for example, was my favorite. He was hilarious, ridiculous, and above all, Kingly. All he wanted was grandchildren, and he was willing to do everything in his power to get them. Even if that meant cutting off his Duke’s head or making his son marry someone he despises. Quite the true Kingsman. Then we have Cinderella, who is honestly quite sassy and sophisticated, behind the family’s back, of course, in a manner mature for her age. Which makes sense, considering she had to grow up quite fast. Her step-sisters are on the opposite spectrum as bumbling, idiotic, spoiled brats, which also makes sense. Even the mice have very distinct personalities. We have Gus Gus, who spewed the best line ever after revealing the newly made dress to Cinderella. “Happy birthday!” he said. Classic…And then, we have Jacque, who is quite a spunky, helpful lad. He even wishes to sew for the ladies, but this one overly stereotypical mouse sings, “Leave the sewing for the women!” which is probably my biggest negative about the movie. But — I guess it is the 50s. Anyway, the male mice ended up helping five minutes later despite. All of these characters go through transformations as well. We see Cinderella finally break down under all of that pressure, stress, and abuse after her dress is ruined. We see the prince finally take to a girl. We see the King calm down about everything because of Cinderella. And! We see the step-family get served. HA! You thought you would win — but you didn’t realize that Cinderella had mice on her side. I also do really like this touch to Cinderella. If animals can trust you, that automatically makes you a trustworthy, kind, and true individual. At least I believe so. And it makes sense, at that point, that she would only put her trust in animals.
—ANIMATION AND MUSIC—
The animation has definitely become less silly since The Adventures of Ichabod Crane and Mr. Toad and grown much more sophisticated, glamorized, and entrancing. We see two kinds of animation in this film: stagnant, flatter animation, like with the castle and the background guards, and the fuller, more detailed animation that we’ve been seeing up until now, with Cinderella herself (finally! The women have detail!), the step-family, the King, and the Duke. Specific actions were given more detail, too. Like when the fairy Godmother is magicking everything into something pretty and presentable, and even the dramatic moments, like when Lady Tremaine realizes that Cinderella had gone to the ball and locks her in her own room. The music has already escalated since Bambi, too. Our first song is quite beautiful and serene, interrupted only by a loud clock that Cinderella herself makes a sassy retort about. And the music continues that way, as well. Some very classic and still famous songs can be found within this track, such as the first one about dreams and the fairy Godmother’s classic, “Bipidi-bopidi-bo”.
We see that the plot itself has escalated as well since our last Disney. Where Ichabod Crane was silly and not focused, Cinderella was actually quite serious, yet mixed with the perfect amount of comedy, as well as being extremely focused on its task. There were quite a lot of important things that happened in this movie that were so minute and detailed, a child would never pick up on it. Like for example, the simple fact that the fairy Godmother made the actual horse the coachman for Cinderella’s carriage, stating, “Now you’ll get the reins for a change.” Not only is that a great thing to give anyone who is often controlled, but it is a direct parallel to what she is giving Cinderella: reins. A means to control her own life for once. And though most wouldn’t call this movie feminist, what I love about it is Cinderella’s chance to go to the ball had nothing to do with “finding a man” or “seeking love”. She was just seeking freedom for herself, if even for one night. And! She didn’t even realize that the man she danced with WAS the Prince! She was just there to finally shine and have a good time, and love just happened to come, too.
OVERALL RATING: 9.5/10