REVIEW REWIND: Cinderella (1997) vs. Cinderella (1950)
I watched Rodgers and Hammerstein's 1997 version of Cinderella which recently started streaming on Disney+. The Wonderful World of Disney movie, according to the Website What's On Disney+, was the streaming service's most requested movie. After, Disney+ suggested that I watch the 1950 animated classic. So I did and I decided to pit the two movies up against each other.
So, with the 1997 version, the music is written by the legendary Broadway composers Richar Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein. With that pedigree, you would think that the music would be absolutely wonderful. But, for me, the songs left me cold. I do not like the music nor do I find any of it memorable. I'm sure many people will disagree with me, but this is my opinion.
I did find many of the performances to be good. Brandy as Cinderella was charming and appealing as was Paolo Montalban as her prince. Victor Garber and Whoopi Goldberg are great as Prince Christopher's parents. Of course, Whitney Houston is amazing as the Fairy Godmother. But, the best performance was Bernadette Peters who chews up the scenery as the wicked stepmother.
The production design and set decor were great. They had this colorful vibrancy that worked well for this movie. And, as always, I credit Disney for diversifying the cast. I liked the fact that Prince Christopher, played by a Filipino American, had parents played by a white man and an African American woman. Yet, nobody blinks an eye.
Overall, the movie has some charm, but, for me, because of the music, I found myself getting irritated a lot. In all honesty, this version doesn't hold a candle to the 1950 animated version.
First, I'll start with the music. The soundtrack is one of Disney's finest, containing such classics as "A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes," "Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo," and "So This Is Love." Unlike the Rodgers and Hammerstein version, to me, these songs are memorable and beautiful.
The characters are absolutely wonderful. While Cinderella and her Prince may be less dynamic, the supporting characters are amazing. Let's start with the Fairy Godmother whois just perfect as a bumbling old fairy. But, it's the Tremaines that really make the movie, solidifying them as some of my favorite Disney villains. Particularly cruel is Lady Tremaine who seems to find joy in trying to give Cinderella hope only to cut her down. She's amazing.
The color and layouts are absolutely beautiful. The more three dimensional animation over flat designs just works so well. This was some of the finest work by artist Mary Blair who knew how to use color for dramatic purpose.
The only thing the 1950s version doesn't have going for it is the diversity issue. Everyone of the cast and characters are white humans or animals played by white humans. But, that was the sign of the times back then, so it's hard to hold it against the movie whereas the 1997 version came at a much more enlightened age.
For me, there is no question which is the better film. I'd much rather stick to the animated classic.
WINNER: Cinderella (1950)