It’s hard to believe you would need to read a review of the Cinderella movie. It was released by the Disney animation machine 62 years ago and has been seen by…everyone, including you! The girl, her fairy godmother, the glass slipper, the midnight deadline, you know it all by heart, right? You probably even hum the tune to “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo” when you are changing the oil in your car! Well maybe not, but you are probably familiar with the movie and don’t need me to tell you that it’s pretty darn good. But I will anyway…it’s pretty darn good.
Cinderella (voiced by Ilene Woods) is, of course, an old school Disney princess. She’s white, she lives in a sorta European-ish country, she’s friendly with the local animals, and getting married to the man of her dreams is her highest ambition. She lives with her cruel step-mother (Eleanor Audley) and two ugly, selfish step-sisters. She’s basically a slave, but keeps an optimistic attitude about it, scrubbing the floors with a song in her heart and dreams in her head.
Eventually, all the gals in the kingdom are asked to a ball to see which can get knocked-up by the prince. Cinderella’s step-sisters actually tear her dress to shreds. So, in comes the Fairy Godmother (Verna Felton) to get her all gussied up (that’s what they called it back then, I’m sure), and turn the pumpkin into a coach and the mice into horses, etc. She puts a midnight deadline onto all the magic (because why not!) and Cinderella leaves a glass slipper behind. It’s a pretty simple story, but it has a lot of heartfelt optimism behind it.
While it’s considered a classic, it does show it’s age a bit. Couldn’t Cinderella be a bit more assertive in her own story? Maybe that would have allowed them to make the story a bit deeper and not have to rely on so much excess padding to fill out the 75- minute running time. The first 20 minutes of screen time have very little to do with the main story and the battle between the evil cat, Lucifer, and the mice, Gus and Jacques, screams “filler!” In fact, I did scream the word “filler” at the screen, scaring my own cat, who seemed interested in the scene.
The golden age of Disney animation is really beautiful to look at, though, and it compensates for the somewhat weak story. This may not be the zenith of hand- drawn animation, but it has almost no flaws and is a pleasure to look at. The songs, including “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes,” “So This is Love,” and “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo” are a bit more dated than even the Cinderella character, but they are still good matches to the material. I’m not sure this is on anyone’s top 10 animated films of all time list anymore, but it has its charms and clearly, by 2012, you’ve drawn your own conclusion.
Here’s the real meat of why we are here. Is the movie worth shelling out on Blu-ray? The Diamond Edition sounds impressive (diamonds are better than other gems!) but maybe you already have a perfectly good DVD edition at home. Should you upgrade?
If you don’t have any Cinderella in your home or are watching, god forbid, a VHS tape, then this is a pretty great collection. First, you get the whole HD thing, which makes the blues bluer and the greens greener. Well, I don’t actually know if it does that, but it does look great. If you already have a DVD, like me, you probably will notice an upgrade in the visuals, but my DVD still looks fine, so I couldn’t say it is imperative you buy the HD.
In terms of the extras, I can say, unequivocally, that there is really no need to upgrade to the Blu-ray version if you have the most recent DVD. There are a few new things, but most of the best extras are actually brought over from the last DVD version. In short, don’t upgrade for the extras.
The new Blu-ray extra does include the Tangled short that played in front of the Beauty and the Beast re-release in theaters, called “Ever After.” It’s hilarious and the one thing that might make getting the Blu-ray version worthwhile. The rest of the new extras are an introduction to the movie from Walt’s daughter, an infomercial on the remodel of the Fantasyland at Walt Disney World, an infomercial for a shoe designer who made a glass slipper, a cute short biography on Mary O’Connor, who was the inspiration for the Fairy Godmother and a genuinely nice person who volunteered a lot in Burbank, and a 90- second alternate opening sequence (on pencil sketches) that does nothing for anyone. Other than the Tangled short, it’s unimpressive, and if this were the sum total of the extras, it would be bad news.
Fortunately, the extras Disney brought over from the last DVD release of Cinderella are a good crop, so if you haven’t seen them, you’re in for a treat. There are two “deleted scenes” that are really just songs or song demos and storyboard art for considered but rejected scenes. There are also song demos for an additional eight songs that were ultimately not used in the film. There is even a look at all the ideas that were considered and scrapped during the movie’s long development period. More behind-the-scenes info is provided by the storyboard-to-finished comparison of the movie’s opening.
The standard “Making of” documentary clocks in at just under 40 minutes and is supplemented by tributes to key animators who worked on the movie or concept art. There are also some other presentations of the “Cinderella” story, like on the “Mickey Mouse Club,” an early animated effort by Walt Disney’s company, Laugh-O-Gram, and some radio programs. Throw in some trailers and you have a solid block of material for fan’s and animation buffs. The kids will be a bit bored, though.
Bottom line on this, if you have the DVD, don’t worry too much about picking this up. If you don’t have the DVD or can’t stand not having it in HD, then it’s a nice collection for a darn good film.