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Cinderella, treated as a slave by her selfish stepfamily, dreams of going to the Prince's ball. She gets her wish courtesy of her Fairy Godmother, who warns her to be home by midnight, or else...
For more about Cinderella and the Cinderella Blu-ray release, see Cinderella Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on October 1, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Ilene Woods, Eleanor Audley, James MacDonald, Verna Felton, Rhoda Williams, Luis Van Rooten
Narrator: Betty Lou Gerson
Directors: Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske
» See full cast & crew
Cinderella Blu-ray Review
Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo! Put 'em together and what've you got? A fantastic Blu-ray release, that's what!
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, October 1, 2012
If you've found yourself walking into a Toys 'R' Us at any point in the last two weeks, you may have noticed something a bit different than usual. Near the front of the store, where the latest and greatest movie tie-in toys are given prime real estate, Spider-Man and Avengers action figures have been ousted by something wholly unexpected: a wall of Cinderella merchandise. Dolls, costumes, play sets... you name it, it's there. Let's put that in perspective. Superheroes who've racked up billions at the box office have been displaced by a Disney princess from 1950. It not only speaks to the mass appeal of the beloved handmaiden-turned-princess (it isn't every day Toys 'R' Us shoves quote-unquote boy toys aside in favor of girl toys), it speaks to the enduring legacy of a movie that ushered in the Silver Age of Walt Disney Animated Classics. It isn't Walt Disney Animation Studios' finest film (or even the best of its era), it's a bit uneven in retrospect, and focuses more energy on Cinderella's colorful supporting cast than the princess herself. To say nothing of the fairy tale's underlying moral: feeling trapped and sad? With magic and a man, you too can be rid of your wicked parents and live a long, luxurious life as a happy little princess. Flaws and hyper-protective parental instincts aside, though, Cinderella remains a beautifully animated, heartfelt and utterly magical bit of wish fulfillment sure to continuing delighting daughters, mothers and grandmothers of all ages.
Although not quite a tale as old as time, the origins of the Cinderella story trace back thousands of years, through literally thousands of variations and numerous world cultures. But the version that evolved out of the centuries and eventually stuck was that of French author Charles Perrault, who, in 1697, incorporated a fairy godmother, a pair of glass slippers and other elements into the story that have since become essential to the tale; elements Walt Disney (who first brought "Cinderella" to the screen in a 1922 Laugh-O-Gram animated short) and the legendary Nine Old Men brought to spectacular life in the '50s feature film. Not that Cinderella was a sure thing. It had been eight long years since Disney last released an animated feature (package films like The Three Caballeros and The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad not withstanding), and the hemorrhaging U.S. box office, wounded by years of World War and global upheaval, wasn't nearly as forgiving as it once was. Had Cinderella failed to perform, Walt Disney Animation might not have crawled its way out of the '40s into the bright, prosperous light of the '50s. Or even survived for that matter.
But it did survive. More than that, it thrived. Cinderella would gain more ground in the coming decades, of course, with multiple theatrical reissues and, eventually and more importantly, the advent of home video, but its spell was no less potent as it continued to sweep over audiences, young and old, in the theater and in the living room. Today, Cinderella's story isn't as refined as modern animated classics. It's also not cynical in the least. It doesn't overreach, overplay its hand, or overextend itself. Even the characters that frequently, almost maddeningly take attention away from Cinderella (voiced by Ilene Woods) and her date with a destiny involving a handsome prince (William Phipps) -- her awful step-sisters Anastasia and Drizella (Lucille Bliss and Rhoda Williams), kindly Fairy Godmother (Verna Felton), talking mice Jaq and Gus (Jimmy MacDonald), hungry cat Lucifer (June Foray), and the prince's father, the King (Luis Van Rooten), and the Grand Duke (Van Rooten too) -- really serve her plight, whether by opposition, assistance or true love. Like the Seven Dwarfs before them, Cinderella's eclectic allies and enemies transform what would have been a simple fairy tale romance into something greater that still elicits laughs, smiles, cheers and a sense that orphans needn't stay orphaned, that lonely girls needn't feel lonely forever, that love isn't unobtainable, that princes are concerned with more than the status or standings of their princesses, and that hope can be a remedy to many of the world's ills.
Cinderella isn't the story of a girl who fights her way to the top. It's the story of a girl who accepts the help of others, who comes to recognize the value within, who doesn't concede to the fate her wretched stepmother (Eleanor Audley) carves out for her. Cinderella may need magic and a man to break free of it all, but it isn't magic and a man that save her; it's faith and assuredness, hard fought as each one is. With so much swirling around her -- horrid stepmothers, sisterly squabbles, grueling chores, fairy godmothers, animal sidekicks, pumpkin carriages, glass slippers, grand balls, and a looming expiration date on the spell that temporarily made her a princess -- it would have been easy for Uncle Walt and his writers to create a Cinderella granted sudden, undeserved good fortune. Instead, they offer a different, in some ways ahead-of-her-time princess in the making: a heroine granted extraordinary gifts, yes, but a heroine who has to make the crucial choice to embrace those gifts, cast off her insecurities, take what she wants and, ultimately, to rely on something more substantial than beauty or charm. Something deeper and more meaningful. Something that resonates in 2012 almost as much as it did in 1950. Is it a perfect Disney animated classic? No, few are. And yet it continues to capture the imagination and defy its age, even when that age and the conventions of the era are counter to the desires and aspirations of the modern woman. Cinderella, imperfections and all, is proving to be as timeless as the countless versions of the story that inspired it.
Cinderella Blu-ray, Video Quality
Cinderella, like many other Golden Age Disney animated classics that have come to Blu-ray, arrives with a stunning 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 video transfer free of encoding imperfections or, really, any major preservation or restoration flaws to point to. Major being the key word. Much like other Disney animated presentations before it, grain has been removed from the image in the pursuit of a different kind of perfection; carefully, judiciously and without any debilitating injury to the original animation, yes, but removed all the same. I'd typically be the first to rail against such dramatic grain removal, unless it was removed at the specific behest of the filmmaker, but in rare cases like these, it doesn't bother me as much. Why? Presenting Cinderella as it might have appeared had it been assembled anew from the original animation cels strikes me as another way to potentially present the film faithfully in something approaching its purest state. There's a legitimate debate to be had, though -- is a classic animated film at its purest state when completed or when completed on film, thus granting it a more traditionally filmic temperament? (Especially since the process, and the ensuing adjustments, color and contrast tweaks, and other leveling changes sometimes lead to disparities when compared to previous presentations of the film. See this in-depth thread for more information and specific examples.) That said, both sides of the argument have merit. For the purposes of this review, let's agree to disagree, purists and revisionists alike, and focus, by and large, on the technical quality of the presentation at hand.
Soft pastel hues, rich primaries, gorgeous blues, lush greens and inky blacks come together to embrace a truly enchanting image, full of life and color. Contrast is dialed in vividly and consistently, and substantial flickering or fluctuations aren't in play. The animation hasn't been severely impacted by the restoration either, minus the thin, brightly hued line art that's been lost or subdued in equally bright blue or white swaths of color. Every line is clean (although often only as sharp as the source elements allow), every color fill is stable, every hand-painted background retains its bristled brush texturing, and significant ringing, aliasing and other such eyesores don't creep into the image. There also isn't any notable print damage or blemishes, artifacting or banding, or more detrimental issues. If I didn't have to address the complete absence of grain (and some of the aforementioned alterations, minor as each one arguably is), this would in fact be the easiest video analysis I've written all year. Purists, particularly those poring over screenshot comparisons, won't be quite so impressed, but most everyone else will be completely satisfied when they see Cinderella's Diamond Edition makeover. Your opinion will mostly be dictated by the camp you call home.
Cinderella Blu-ray, Audio Quality
With regards to audio, Disney caters to both purists and revisionists with two lossless options: a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround track and a single-channel DTS-HD Master Audio presentation of the film's original mono mix. It's the best of both worlds, and both worlds sound terrific. The mono mix is faithful to a fault, just as some audiophiles will prefer it and, without any issues, there's virtually little to comment on. Dialogue is clean, clear and perfectly restored, effects and music have ample room to breathe, and nothing sounds crowded, cramped or corralled. The 7.1 remix has more on tap, of course, but still pays tremendous respect to Cinderella's sound design while retaining the aural personality of an early '50s animated fairy tale. Voices are again distinct and revitalized, everything from chirping birds and scampering mice to bursts of magic and fleeing maidens is given proper lossless support, and music and other ambient effects have been spread around the eight-channel soundfield intelligently and without incident. (And without amping up rear speaker activity or LFE output to the point of being aggressive.) It's a whole new Cinderella... and yet it isn't. Ultimately, both tracks are excellent, both experiences have something to offer, and both work hand in hand to make for an audio package with something for everyone.
Cinderella Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Cinderella Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Chances are you weren't waiting for a review of Cinderella to decide whether or not to add it to your wish list or cart. Chances are you already knew exactly what Disney was capable of, what the studio would most likely deliver in a coveted Diamond Edition, and what effort would be invested in creating a definitive Blu-ray release of the film. All I can really offer is confirmation. Cinderella shines on Blu-ray thanks to a gorgeous restoration and video transfer, two excellent DTS-HD Master Audio tracks (a 7.1 remix and a lossless presentation of the original audio), and a host of special features, including every pertinent extra from the past and a few new goodies for your viewing pleasure. An in-depth Picture-in-Picture track would have been appreciated, as would a newly produced retrospective, but there's little to complain about and even less to worry over. Cinderella is primed for your coveted animated classics collection. All you need do is give it the home it deserves.
Cinderella: Other Editions
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