Week 12: Cinderella

Disney Triumphantly Returns to the Full-Length Animated Feature

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Originally Released: 1950

Considering just how famous this movie has become, it is very interesting to know that Walt Disney took a big risk by working on Cinderella and releasing it as a full-length feature. Besides Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, none of his previous full-length animated films was a financial success, and the package films were only moderately successful. Thus, the entire future of Disney’s feature animation hinged on the success of Cinderella. If it failed, Disney would likely have shut down the feature animation studio. Luckily, Cinderella was a big hit with audiences. It was so successful that it gave Disney the cash flow to not only continue production on future animated films, but it also helped progress other parts of the company, including Walt’s endeavor to create Disneyland. Additionally, it began what could be considered a bit of a Disney Renaissance with its films.

Unlike the fairly obscure Disney package films, Cinderella should require no introduction or plot summary. If there is someone who either has not seen it, or who is unfamiliar with the fairy tale in some form, I would be quite surprised. And though there have been other adaptations of the tale, I am willing to bet that when most people think of Cinderella, they think of this version.

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Yet despite this popularity, whenever I am about to watch Cinderella again, for some reason I tend to think that I am not going to enjoy it as much as I would some of the other Disney classics. My reasoning may vary each time this occurs. For example, I may say it is a “girl movie.” Or I may tell myself the story is very thin, or that the mice take up too much of the screen time gathering stuff and getting chased by Lucifer. However, as valid as my excuses may be, once I sit down and simply watch the film, all those negative thoughts just seem to disappear as I get lost in the story, music, and animation. Each viewing of Cinderella exceeds my expectations and I find myself happy to have watched it again.

This time was no exception. I was struck at how well the movie conveyed different emotions, and how much I cared about what happened to Cinderella. I felt bad that her life was awful, and was glad she was able to triumph in the end. The scene with the key was actually suspenseful because the film effectively made me want to root for Cinderella.

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Somewhat related to the first topic is that this time I really noticed the great good shown by some characters (by now we should know that it is very smart to have a mouse for a friend – see Dumbo for another example of this), as well as some truly despicable evil from Lady Tremaine, Cinderella’s stepmother. Unlike many Disney villains, she doesn’t have supernatural powers, but her rotten heart more than makes up for it. Lucifer, the cat, doesn’t fall too far behind in this category, either. Both relish seeing Cinderella suffer. There is a clear contrast between good and evil in this film.

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Finally, the music was just as good as ever. It ranged from sweet to silly, but it was always fun and memorable. A good example was the “Sing Sweet Nightingale” part. It starts off silly with the stepsisters skewering the song, but then it transitions to a beautiful rendition accompanied by a gorgeous visual scene involving harmonizing Cinderella reflections in soap bubbles.

Most of the songs got stuck in my head for the next day or so, but I didn’t mind because the songs are great. I didn’t even have a problem when I noticed I was singing “Bibbidi-Bobbidi Boo” to myself. And while I’m on the topic of memorable music, an interesting side note is that Cinderella is the film that started Walt Disney’s music publishing business. Walt knew that the music would be very popular, so he decided that they might as well make the money from it instead giving the profits to someone else. It proved to be a smart move.

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So in the end, while there may be some flaws or something or another to complain about in Cinderella, the magic of the movie to me is that these flaws and complaints quickly go away and are forgotten. It is easy to get pulled into its world, and that’s what the Disney magic is all about. (Oh yeah, and there’s also this).  Cinderella is a top-tier Disney gem.

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These birds got caught in Cinderella's magic spell.

These birds got caught in Cinderella’s magic spell.

If a monocle makes you want to say "indeed," in an English accent, you can probably thank this movie.

If a monocle makes you want to say “indeed,” in an English accent, you can probably thank this movie.

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4 thoughts on “Week 12: Cinderella

  1. Rachel says:

    I didn’t know so much hinged on this movie’s success! Very cool! And I love the music from Cinderella!

  2. Rick says:

    I agree on all points for sure! This movie is also notable for the fact that it was the first film that Disney distributed without RKO. It is a definite way of Disney telling Hollywood that he could do this on his own now.

    • John says:

      So I noticed that Alice in Wonderland was distributed by RKO when I watched it the other day…so I did a little digging around, and (according to Wikipedia and IMDB) it appears that the first film to be distributed without RKO was Lady and the Tramp. But I think the point is still valid in that Disney was definitely becoming independent.

  3. A true masterpiece of a film!

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