When I came up with this D52 project idea thing, I wasn't sure, if anything, what I would gain from watching all of these films in their original release order, other than just noticing the gradual change of style, quality, tone, and the like. But up until the last couple of months or so I paid little mind to how many of the package films are back-to-back together in this time period. I certainly learned what it's like to watch all of those so close to each other, especially after having seen well-made complete features like Snow White and Pinocchio so shortly before. Imagine what it must've been like to get a taste of feature-length Disney stories, then to have to wait not just weeks but years for another one! Putting Cinderella into this context certainly puts a spin on one's perspective of it!
This is one of those Disney movies that I'm pretty sure I've seen before but only so long ago that I don't remember a whole lot of it. But I did recently see Disney on Ice, one-third of which was devoted to the story of Cinderella. It actually goes through all of the necessary plot points sufficiently in all of, oh - 20-30 minutes? Which does say something about how much of the movie is actually crucial to the plot. For most of the beginning you may wonder whether you're watching Cinderella or The Adventures of Cinderella's Animal Friends. These filler 'toons are entertaining enough, though, that I'm willing to give it a pass.
But it is much better than I expected, largely thanks to the fluffy stuff. It's a lot like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, in that the main story is simple but padded with songs and comedy routines. But I easily prefer the songs and comedy routines of Cinderella. As for the animation, it's hard to compare the two, not only because of the thirteen-year difference, but that they each have their own style, flavor and charm.
Lady Tremaine helps to convince me that I prefer my Disney villains to be non-magical. My problem with magic-wielding villains is that is that you never know exactly what they have in their arsenal, so you don't know how far you're supposed to stretch your suspension of disbelief. If she turns into a dragon without having mentioned before that she could, you just have to accept that because, well, she's magical! And it also makes me wonder things like, did Snow White's Evil Queen Witch not have a spell that could just kill Snow White directly and completely? But with Tremaine, what you see is what you get. Believable evil motivations, realistic evil deeds.* I like that. I mean, fiction-wise, I like it.
I guess you could say the same thing about magical good guys. Hey, Fairy Godmother! Why not punish Lady Tremaine (even if only for a limited time)? Heck, the evil stepmother doesn't even get any comeuppance at all, unless you count losing her slave, and, I don't know, taking a hit of embarrassment at it all?
And here we have the second in a line of uninteresting Disney princes, but at least the not-bland father-of-the-prince helps make up for that. I like to think that, when Prince Charming grows up, he will too eventually become short, round, bald, but excellently-mustachioed, sputtering and eccentric. But happily ever after.
OVERALL: It's worth anyone's time to check this out if he or she hasn't recently already. Anyone can enjoy it, from a princessy girl to an all-around cartoon loving boy, or from a lowly peasant to a regally royal King or Queen.
*Ignoring Cinderella III: A Twist in Time, anyway.
Kevin's Study Questions
1. We don't know enough about Lucifer's backstory to know whether he was named Lucifer because of his behavior, or if he acts meanly because of his name. How can one's name affect his or her attitude and progress through life? Even if Lucifer was already nasty before being given the name, could the name have just encouraged him to act as he does? Would he change his ways at all had he been named Angel instead?
2. The Blue Fairy - I mean, the Fairy Godmother Who Happens to Wear Blue - transforms animals' very genetic codes without their consent. Could she be said to be playing God? If modern science ever gets to the point where it is possible to molecular alter a normal lab mouse into a full-size horse, what would be the moral implications? If a mouse-turned-horse seems perfectly content to run through fields (without fearing owls and hawks) but still yearns for cheese, is it still happy? Also, would the Blue Fairy be at all as memorable as a character if not for that darn immeasurably catchy incantation song?
3. Notice that near the beginning of the film we see Cinderella lose a shoe on the way up the stairs while doing her chores. How often and when is it necessary, in a film, to establish a character flaw relevant to the crux of the plot? If not for that earlier moment, would we as the viewer question the likelihood of her losing her glass slipper?
How dare you dis Cinderella 3! I mean yeah, the step mother being able to... OH! Spoilers AND off topic. Shame on me.
Here's the thing. Cinderella falls into that idealized "Disney does best" category. Good guy does good things and deserves good things. Bad things happen, but good things are sure to follow. Bad guys do bad things and at the least end up no better off than they started and at the most end up dead.
Cindy is so sweet and so charming in that Hollywood starlet way that was very much revered at the time. She was among the first to engage in direct interaction to her little animal friends. Not only did she talk to her friends, but they talked back and she understood! She was the model of generosity (poor little Gus), of industry (such a work-ethic on that girl!), of forgiveness (Let's not forget Cindy 2 in which Anny gets a man), and of frugality (as displayed by her mouse and bird tailors). Taking into account her grassroots, she is easily the least dislikeable princess there is! She's the prom queen, but the nice one that you actually voted for!
As for her family members, I for one am pleased that nothing terribly unfortunate happens to any of them. Despite the magic and the unlikely chance meeting of lovers, I feel that the bland non-end of Lady Tremaine and her daughters makes this quite a believable story. In the real world, the best comeuppance is merely to overcome. At worst, I find myself feeling sorry for those two snobbish self-important sisters who could with proper styling snag a perfectly nice man of their own if they so chose, but because of unfortunate upbringing, they run the risk of becoming spinsters.
And in the end, what we really learn is that one man's trash is still one man's trash so you best not try to pick something off the floor and call it your own... unless that causes magic to happen... then do it. uh. Yeah.
Favorite Character: The Duke! He's so done with this job. I'm so enamored with his frustration.
Least favorite character: That dopey footman who dropped the slipper. It's not that I don't like him; it's just that he seems like a Deus ex Machina for those of us that want to agree with the Duke that the slipper could fit any number of girls.
Overall: Did you see Lucifer's arms go flailing? Hilarious.
Study Question responses:
1. Lucifer: I think this question fails to accept the meaning of the name which is "Bringer of Light" and often refering to the first star of the evening. The point is that Jessica didn't become a name I would never give my baby because it's inherently bad, but because I happen to know some people named Jessica that I don't like.
2. Morality of playing God. It's okkay to play God as long as it's temporary and you learn something from it (i.e. pumpkins make pretty carriages but they are likely to spoil and smell bad; or horses make the best horse/mouse whisperers)
3. Slipper losing as a character flaw: Yes. This is important to establish because it makes it clear that Cindy's feet don't sweat OR swell like a normal human and therefore the glass slipper would indeed be able to slip off her foot rather than get stuck near-permanently on as it would on anyone else.
Craft time! This was a no brainer! I made slippers. They aren't glass and they aren't that cute, but they do fit properly, unlike all of Cindy's footwear aparently.