51 Days of Disney (Day 12): Cinderella

HOLY CRAP, A POST THAT ISN’T ABOUT A PACKAGE FILM. The “success” (I use that term as loosely as humanly possible) of the package films and the recent live action Disney films allowed Walt and Roy to put more money into the animated movies, so three more traditional animated movies were put into production, the first of which to be released was 1950’s Cinderella.

Version watched: 2005 DVD release

The story centers around the plight of Cinderella and her evil stepmother, Lady Tremaine, and her evil stepsisters, Anastasia and Drizella, who treat her like a slave in her own house. A ball is held at the castle nearby and Cinderella is forced to stay home because her stepsisters ruin the dress she made, but Cinderella gets some help (a new dress, a coach, horses, and a driver) from her Fairy Godmother, but with a warning that the spell will run out at midnight. Cinderella woos the prince, but has to flee due to the clock striking midnight and accidentally leaves one of the glass slippers given to her by her Fairy Godmother. The Prince uses the shoe to track Cinderella down and the two are married.

The film focuses more on Cinderella’s home life than it does on the more magical fantasy elements of the story and the movie is better for it. It allows the audience to really connect with Cinderella due to the hardships that she has to go through and in turn we get more attached to her as a character. Cinderella is voiced beautifully by Ilene Woods, but I feel like that is one of the reasons that she ends up not being the most interesting of characters. She is just too perfect. I understand that her character was written that way as so that it would give her stepmother and stepsisters something to hate, but it just makes her bland. That being said, there is just something about Cinderella that endears you to her, despite her perfectness.

The shift in focus also really gets us to really hate Lady Tremaine and all of her cat stroking, Bond villain evilness. Seriously, throughout the movie you expect her to give Cinderella a command and then turn her tall leather spinning chair around and start up the death ray to threaten the world. Part of what makes her so evil is her voice actress, Elanor Audley, who also voiced Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty and Madame Leota in the Haunted Mansion attraction. Audley just has the perfect voice for a villain, it’s strong and commanding, but has a large amount of classiness to it.

Cinderella is the first Disney film in a number of years that has any sort of memorable music, and the first to have anything resembling the Disney mantra of wishes coming true since 1941’s Pinocchio. The film’s theme is “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes” and that song really encapsulates the more uplifting aspects of the story and actually fleshes out the core Disney belief. “Bibbiti Bobbiti Boo” and “So This is Love” are the other two really stand out songs, the first is much more fun, but is also very short and most of the song is actually spoken by the Verna Felton voiced Fairy Godmother. Ilene Wood’s voice is so beautiful that she could sing almost any song and make it sound amazing.

Cinderella was the turning point for Disney animation. It was the first animated film put out by the studio that enormously sucessful commercially since Snow White in 1937 and the success of this film funded the rest of the animated films put out in the 1950’s. If this movie had not been successful, the studio probably would have been shut down and Disney would have more than likely only made live action films from that point on. I’m sure I can speak for everyone when I say that I’m glad that the film did exceptionally well.

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