Sunday, March 06, 2011

Disn-A-Thon: Cinderella (1950)

In a far away, long ago kingdom, Cinderella is living happily with her mother and father until her mother dies. Cinderella's father remarries a cold, cruel woman who has two daughters, Drizella and Anastasia. When the father dies, Cinderella's wicked stepmother turns her into a virtual servant in her own house. Meanwhile, across town in the castle, the King determines that his son the Prince should find a suitable bride and provide him with a required number of grandchildren. So the King invites every eligible maiden in the kingdom to a fancy dress ball, where his son will be able to choose his bride. Cinderella has no suitable party dress for a ball, but her friends the mice, lead by Jaques and Gus, and the birds lend a hand in making her one, a dress the evil stepsisters immediately tear apart on the evening of the ball. At this point, enter the Fairy Godmother, the pumpkin carriage, the royal ball... [imdb]
The first full-length feature since 1942's Bambi, Cinderella came at a time when Disney was about a few million dollars in the hole, and the animation department was holding on for dear life with package films and war propaganda films.  The new feature would either make or break the entire department, and it surely did not disappoint.

It was the first real "princess" movie since the first feature, Snow White, but it was also the first in the new era of the Disney "style" adding whimsy and joy to what before had been merely fantasy and wonder.  Cinderella was practically a template for many films to come, from Sleeping Beauty through Beauty and The Beast, continuing even to this day.

As before, I worked my way through each and every special feature on the 2-disc DVD set.  I was (and still am) very disappointed by the lack of commentary track.  Of all the films they've done commentary for, this seems like it would be a given... but no.  Perhaps they'll fix this when they finally release a blu-ray set.

There are quite a lot of special features, however, including a nice decently-lengthed documentary on the making of the film and a lot of audio demos for discarded songs.  There are a couple discarded storyboarded song segments that, I have to admit, the movie is better for not including them.  The Cinderella's Work Song (not to be confused with the mice Work Song) bit is a rather charming idea, but the song drives you crazy after one verse.  I'm glad they left that out.

There are also quite a few live-action promotional bits from television, including some from The Mickey Mouse Club and one with Perry Como.  In all, I definitely approve with the amount of extras on this one, with the exception of course of the missing commentary track.  How could you not have a commentary track for Cinderella?!

Alright, done complaining.  Cinderella is a classic, and I am very glad it was as successful as it was... or there might never have been another Disney animated feature film.