REVIEW REWIND: Cinderella (1950)
Continuing our viewing of the Disney animated feature films in order, we have entered the Silver Age with Cinderella (1950).
Cinderella is based on the classic fairy tale by Charles Perrault in which a young woman who is abused by her cruel stepmother and stepsisters suddenly finds her life changed when she meets her Fairy Godmother. I love the simplicity of that kind of storytelling.
Every so often, you have to take out one of these classic films to really remember what makes them a classic. It didn't take much for me to completely fall in love with this movie again. In this day when we tend to look less favorably on the older Disney Princess stories because of the damsel in distress themes, Cinderella is actually much more complex than we think. Yes, her problems change when she marries the prince (Spoilers. But, if you didn't know the ending of this, I don't know who you are), but she is a remarkably strong young woman to have taken this abuse by, instead, being kind. It is through this kindness that things happen for her. And, when her stepmother tries to mess things up for her at the end, it is Cinderella who comes up with her own creative solution to stick it to her horrid family.
The greatest thing in Cinderella are the wonderful Mary Blair inspired backgrounds and layouts. They convey such emotional depth with the change of a color or the use of a shadow or silhouette. It's just absolutely gorgeous and what I miss the most about 2D animation and this ability to play with the flatness of the layout against the more three dimensional characters. I would love to see a computer animated film with that much depth.
The animation is quite gorgeous in the film, particularly around Lady Tremaine who is a more subtle character. When she dictates a list of additional chores for Cinderella, she takes a moment to emphasize things (thanks to the amazing voice acting of Eleanor Audley). Her eyes pop every time she does, making her presence even more looming. To me, it helps build her as one of Disney's greatest villains.
Another wonderful scene is the Fairy Godmother scene. When Cinderella runs out into the courtyard, we start seeing the ethereal light begin to congregate and it was an amazing touch to have her eventually materialize so that Cinderella is crying in her lap. It just gives m such chills to see how beautiful that moment is.
These scenes are all over the place and I could go on for hours describing them to you.
One last thing I want to talk about is the music. In my humble opinion, I think the music to this is among the best of Disney's princess films. "A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes" has to be one of the great Disney songs bar none. Its amazing that the film did not come home with any Academy Awards. It is a shame for such a classic and beautiful film not to be honored at all. Regardless, it is one of Disney's masterpieces and a welcome return to the single narrative films after almost a decade of package films.