Released: February 15, 1950
Watched: March 25, 2015
This week's film was Cinderella, and in perfect time for the new live action adaption Disney released two weeks ago. Additionally, last month was the 65th anniversary of the film. I am so glad to finally get back to the well known classics, and I think the next month of viewing is going to be a lot more fun than this last month of package films. Cinderella is obviously a well-known classic, and I'm sure I watched it as a child, but I don't especially remember it.
Cinderella is based on a classic European folk tale. This film is credited as being based on the written version, "Cendrillon" by Charles Perrault (published in 1697), but the original folk tale was told in many ways in many places, and has been published in written versions several times (including the popular Brothers Grimm retelling).
By the time of the animated Disney film, it had already been recreated into several ballets, operas, theatre productions, and films (including a few Disney shorts!), every version uniquely its own. This Disney film finds its uniqueness in the inclusion of several animal characters, an element that is not present in many previous versions of the tale, but had become a staple of the Disney style.
In 1948, after a pretty good success with the run of package films, Walt Disney decided to turn back to feature films with Cinderella, because it was such a widely known story he felt it would be a success. After two years of production, it was the first full length film released since Bambi in 1942 (8 years earlier). In order to keep down costs, around 90% of the film was shot in live action before animation even began. This was a way to cut down on experimenting and mistakes for the animators, because they had clear scenes to copy from. The smooth, beautiful animation on all the human characters make this very noticeable, and the technique continued to be used in future films.
The music in Cinderella was unique in that it was the first time Walt hired Tin Pan Alley song writers to write it (again, a way to cut down on costs). Tin Pan Alley went on to become a recurring theme in Disney films, and the songs in Cinderella were also the first to be copyrighted by the new "Walt Disney Music Company". The new ability to copyright and sell sheet music from films also helped with the financial success of Cinderella as many of the songs became hits and were covered by different musical artists at the time.
Cinderella was ultimately a huge success financially and critically, it was the most successful Disney film since the original Snow White. The success of Cinderella (not only the film profits, but the money from merchandising and music) started Disney back uphill, towards several new films, the beginning of production for television, and even the beginning of Disneyland. Walt had stated that if Cinderella had failed, the Disney studio would have shut down. Thankfully that did not happen. Obviously the characters are still known and loved today, and appear in many places.
I absolutely loved watching Cinderella. I remembered nothing of the film other than the basic story line (which I assume everyone knows). I love the animals (the mice are so stinking cute) and all the characters. I was especially surprised by the fact that Prince Charming had absolutely no speaking roles and really only appeared in the ball scene and at the end. Apparently original versions had several scenes developing him as a character that were cut for time, which is unfortunate. Although I did like the fact that all of the attention was on the princess. And of course Cinderella was the second in a long line of Disney princesses, a marketing gold mine that would not take off for several decades.
The mice are my absolute favorite.
Next: Alice in Wonderland