Walt Disney Animation Studios Review: Cinderella

My opinion right after watching movie

My opinion right after watching the film is that it is better than I thought it would be. Sure, there is filler (less than SW, and it’s not all in 25 minutes), but while the plot is kind of simple, it is executed well. I love the scale in the film, and there are less plot devices and more characters.

Production

Production for this film started in 1948. They were about $4 million in debt, and if they had a huge failure, than that would be it for Walt Disney Studios. They did this as a gamble to really put them on a mark, or to be the official end of them. They only had 1 bonafide hit, with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, with the rest being flops, or the others being so cheap that they made a profit (never a huge one), so they replicated the formula of Snow White into Cinderella.

Apparently, Prince Charming was supposed to have a larger part in it him playing with animals, him and Cinderella meeting up after she puts on the right slipper), but they still could not animate a realistic looking male, so he was reduced to a plot device.

About 90% of the film was shot in live action before they animated it, because it somehow saved the company money. Oh, and Cinderella is the first movie in the canon to have the soundtrack become marketable, meaning that the music was not sold off, and they were able to make profit off of the soundtrack. Disney also pioneered double tracked vocals when actress Illene Woods sung the harmonies for Sing Sweet Nightangale.

Story

So we start the film with a great introduction, with Cinderella (Illene Woods) being the only child of a widowed aristocrat. He spoils her with love and such, but he knows she needs the nurture of a mother, which is why he married Lady Tremaine (Eleanor Audley). Soon after, he dies, and the Tremaines torture her enough to the point where she becomes a servant in her own home, lives in the small room at the top of the house, and the home is in disrepair because the Tremaines spent all of the money. This is a great introduction. We are then introduced to Cinderella, who is woken up by the birds and the clock.

She sings A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes, and it sums up her character nicely. She is very optimistic, an introvert, and though she is very annoyed and hurt, she continues to have positive faith and good things will come her way. Kind of like Snow White.

So she is told by the mice that there is another mouse in the mouse trap. I would like to point it out that it is clear she sets the traps so she can have more mouse friends. So she dubs the new mouse as Gus (Jimmy MacDonald). So she starts her chores, with feeding Lucifer (June Foray), the chickens and horse, Bruno (Jimmy MacDonald), the mice, and the Tremaines. There are some filler with the mice and Lucifer, which is like over 5 minutes, and results in Lady Tremaine yelling at her.

So we are about 23 minutes in the film, and this entire time was about introducing us the characters. Anyways, I love Lady Tremaine and how she handles Cinderella. She does not let her get a word in edgewise, and makes her do the stuff she did over and over again. This conflict is done well and adds more perception whereas in Snow White, we never saw her and the Queen interact and how they worked off each other. Cindy is drained in this scene.

So we are taken to the royal castle and the King and the Duke (Luis Van Rooten; for both) talk about how Prince Charming (William Phipps) is returning from…. who knows where, and the King is worried about not living to see his grandchildren. The funny thing is that we NEVER hear from Charming’s point of view on this. The film is more about the King than Charming himself. Prince Charming is just a plot device for his father to force him onto a woman so they can reproduce, and for Cinderella to leave the Tremaines.

At the Tremaines, Anastacia (Lucille Bliss) and Drizella (Rhoda Williams) are singing badly, and then we are seen Cinderella singing the same song of Sing Sweet Nightangale. The doorbell is rang, and Cinderella receives a note that all of the young maidens MUST attend the ball tonight.

She makes a snarky comment about interrupting the “music lesson”, which shows she is not all rays of sunshine.

So Lady Tremaine loses it when Cinderella interrupts, but she is told that there is a letter from the King. She takes it and tells her daughters that it the ball tonight is for a young maiden to wed Prince Charming, and they use this so they could get richer. Cinderella demands that she goes, since it is EVERY young maiden must attend, and Tremaine says she could go IF she finishes all of her chores, but she makes it so Cindy will never finish on time.

The mice then bring it upon themselves to remake Cinderella’s mother’s dress with an annoying song, since she will never get time to make it. Cinderella finishes her chores, but is sad because she has no dress, until she goes to her room and sees the surprise. She quickly dresses up and catches up to them as they are about to leave, and then this happens.

So Cinderella runs off crying, and the Fairy Godmother (Verna Felton) appears in her only scene. She makes Cinderella a dress, a new hair style, a carriage, horse, etc to make her go to the ball. She is in desperate need for help and because Cinderella kept on believing, the Fairy helped her. She does this in the most famous song in the film Bibidi Bobidi Bo tells her that the spell will wear off in midnight.

Cinderella is off to the ball, and Charming FINALLY appears and is bored and rolling his eyes from the girls he is presented with. The King is upset that he is not participating, but things change when Charming lays his eyes on Cinderella. They are suddenly singing So This Is Love, when they barely have a conversation (or one not deep enough where they do not even know one another’s names, and such.

And these royal people are really fucked up. When the King is told everything, he wants the Duke to bring ANY woman who fits the shoe, not even caring about his son’s happiness and just wants the woman to be a surrogate almost. It is sick.

So Cinderella is a lovestruck mess, and Lady Tremaine puts two and two together and locks Cinderella in her room, to make sure she will NOT escape the torturous life she made for her. The Duke comes to the house, and Anastasia and Drizella fail to fit in the slipper. Cinderella comes out of the room (via the mice stealing the key) and is about to try in the shoe, but Lady Tremaine trips the guy who has the shoe and breaks it.  Cinderella pulls out the other slipper and it fits. HOW does a shoe fit only one woman? Anyways, they get wed, and the film ends.

Alright, there is enough to go on to keep you engaged, and I was not bored at all. There is a subplot (the King), but the filler with the mice sometimes get in the way and stall the film, though it is not as bad as the dwarfs in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It is a well told fairytale, though I felt it was too sugar-fied, which will be carried on for the rest of the Silver Era. Less risks were taken with this film.

Characters

The characters are alright in the film. Most of them are actual characters, but one is just a plot point with no personality, and it is Prince Charming. The others play their roles very well though.

Well, she is optimistic, but a more realistic type. You can tell she is sick of her treatment and makes some of these witty remarks that give her a bit of zazz. What I will say is that she is very patient. Putting up with all that she did without losing it.
It amazes me how she manipulates her daughters so fluidly. She is not the best villain, but she does do her job correctly. Very calculating.
He is a harsh prick.
He is like Prince, and if anyone knows how I feel about him; not good. At least he has some sort of backstory and we see his family and castle.
They are mean, but pathetic altogether. They are more so used as comic relief than actual villains.

The others are not worth mentioning; especially the mice.

Animation

The animation is very good. The movements are perfect, but I know it has to do with them doing them in live action first. The designs are alright, but the backgrounds are really great. When you enter a castle or a home, there is so much space and the imagery is fantastic. Though there are the color schemes, which makes everything so light all the time, and it makes the animation look bland at times.

Music

The music is very melodic. The songs like So This Is Love and A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes, Sing Sweet Nightangale, and etc have a similar sound, and it does add to the soft sound of the movie. While the songs are nice, the scores sound the same. It just moves on and on for a majority of the film (like almost 100%)

Reception at Release

When it was released on February 15th 1950, it was an instant classic. With a $3 million budget, it became one of the biggest successes in the 1950s. The money from the theatrical release, merchandise, and the soundtrack caused Disney to start his own distribution company, leaving RKO, and was the base of the production for many live action and animated releases of the 1950, and helped start Disneyland. It was here that Disney became a mega-corporation, and decided to go to the more commercialized, sugar routes, which shoes in his future releases.

Reception Today

It is still deemed as a classic and one of WDAS best films. It is one of the most popular and well-known films EVER, and Cinderella became the leader of the mega successful Disney Princess lineup. It also garnered the blessed 2 sequels of Cinderella II: Dreams Come True and Cinderella III: A Twist in Time. It is one of Disney’s biggest classics.

Final Score

Story: 7.5/10

Characters: 7/10

Animation: 8/10

Music: 7.5/10=

30/40 =75%

Next Time…

Review: March 10th, 2014
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18 thoughts on “Walt Disney Animation Studios Review: Cinderella

  1. That sounds like you think Disney used Rotoscoping for this movie…they didn’t. They used live models to get the movements right, yes, but that’s something they do to this day. There was no cheating, they went for a movie with a realistic looking protagonist and managed to make her movement looks natural – making Cinderella the first animated human character for which anyone pulled this off without rotoscoping. They weren’t able to manage the same for a realistic looking male characters, which is the reason they had to cut all the plans they had for the prince.

    I also want to point out that Cinderella and he do more than just singing one song. We see them walk through the gardens and talk to each other. Just because we didn’t hear what they say it doesn’t mean that they didn’t have a meaningful exchange. The Song is just the shorthand for it.

    1. I never said that there was cheating. At the end of the day, you know what I am talking about.

      I said above that they do have a conversation, but how deep could it be if neither could identify the other person? It is not like Jasmine and Aladdin where we saw it. Maybe they did, but the chances are slim. The song is symbolizing how they were feeling, so they were instantly in love.

      1. No, I honestly don’t know? I think getting the movements for Cinderella right was one of the biggest achievements Disney ever managed.

        I always saw it is as such an instant connections that names didn’t seem important. Especially since the prince most likely assumed that Cinderella knew who he was, while Cinderella didn’t really have an interest to spread the word that she was on the ball.

    1. I don’t hate the king, but he is clearly used as comic relief. He is alright, but twisted. This film is definitely a joy, but the mice are kind of annoying.

  2. Hey, first time commenter! This film is decent, but not one of my favorites. The only thing that stands out for me is Lady Tremaine as the villain.

    1. Hello Nat, and welcome to the blog. Yeah, Cinderella does take a lot from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and it is very similar, but this one seems to take itself a bit more seriously. Lady Tremaine is awesome.

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