The Movie Book from DK Canada invites me to sit down and take in another Disney classic, this time it is the Mouse’s 1950 adaptation of the classic fairy tale, Cinderella.
Despite having recognisable songs that have endured over the decades, the film itself, honestly, feels rather boring, and has not weathered time so very well. In fact everything that happens in this film would probably be truncated and turned into the first act of a film nowadays. There just isn’t a lot of story to the film.
Everyone knows the story; Cinderella (Ilene Woods) toils away for her wicked stepmother (Eleanor Audley) and her step sisters. She works day in and out, while the rest of the family live off of her efforts.
Her only distraction is all of her animal friends, the mice and birds she talks and interacts with. Life kicks into high gear for her when the household receives a royal invitation, for a ball… that night.
Nothing like speeding the plot along.
Her stepmother agrees to let her go to the ball, IF she finishes all the tasks laid out for her. This means she won’t have time to make her dress, thank goodness all the animals are on hand to help them, and that they are apparently really good at working with materials and fashion.
Unfortunately, even though she finishes in time, the family ruins her dress when they recognise things Cinderella’s animal friends have absconded with.
Enter the Fairy Godmother (Verna Felton), who with a bibbidi-bobbidi-boo creates a magical outfit for her, with the caveat that she be home by midnight.
As she runs from the ball, having wooed Prince Charming (William Phipps), she leaves a glass slipper behind, which Charming uses to track her down and lead to a happy ending.
This whole thing led me to all manner of questions – Is Cinderella the only woman in the kingdom with that size foot? If it’s a royal command that all eligible maidens be at the ball, isn’t the stepmother violating a royal edict? Wouldn’t that allow Cinderella to get out from under her stepmother’s thumb? Does everyone else hear the mice talk or is that just her? If it’s just her, would that mean that there’s something mentally wrong with her?
I know, I know, it’s only a cartoon adaptation of a fairy tale but of all the Disney films I had been privy to this one, despite the wonderful hand drawn animation, Cinderella failed to affect or impact me.
I’m glad that the studio, for the most part, ended up sticking with stronger stories, even if they didn’t cater to the female characters as well as they should have
The animation, and the music in this film remain wonderful, and beautiful, and watching the craft that went into making Cinderella is a delight, I just wish the story and characters had been stronger.
What are your thoughts? And find out what’s next when you pick up your own copy of DK Books’ The Movie Book and watch along with me.