Walt Disney deserves its reputation for making magic on a regular basis, starting with the black and white shorts of the 1930s all the way through their current hits on their cable channel. They’ve managed to spread the supernaturally wonderful touch to cartoons, films, television, theme parks, and tons of merchandise. The joy is looking back, seeing the progress as Disney and the Nine Old Men, the master animators, learned the tricks of the trade, refining them and then owning them, setting them apart from all.
The 1950 release, Cinderella, is one of those films where all the elements come together. It possesses a classic story, told with verve and humor, coupled with fluid animation and memorable songs. Disney has spruced the film up, debuting it this week as part of its Diamond edition series of films.
Watching this classic feels fresh thanks to the restoration efforts. The songs sound better, the characters feel funnier, and you grin happily all the way through. The fairy tale was nicely adapted as the young girl found herself trapped in her role as scullery maid to the wicked stepmother and her homely, but favored, two daughters. She makes her wish to attend the ball and is greeted by the lovable but somewhat daffy Fairy Godmother. There’s the ball, the price, the dancing, and the glass hoe left behind as the clock strikes twelve. It’s all there, well-paced and crafted, with natural movements to the humans, saving the exaggerated antics for the anthropomorphized mice that were Cinderella’s friends from the outset.
You root for Cinderella, hiss at the step-mother, and giggle at the slapstick. It’s all done well and is a perfect family film that endures.
One of the highlights of Disney’s Diamond releases is seeing how much improved the video image is and Cinderella does not disappoint. The high-definition restoration is amazing, with bright colors and sharp clarity, making the film all the more magical. Accompanying the improved look is amazing sound, which enlivens the overall experience.
Disney rarely skimps on the extras for these special releases and once more, this disc comes chockfull of goodness. The Blu-ray and DVD come nicely packaged in an embossed case but that’s just starting the fun. There are tons of extras that show the history of the film, the filmmaking process, and the usual assortment of excellent featurettes taking us into the magic behind the screen. Thankfully, the Classic Backstage Disney section repurposes all the content from previous editions.
“The Real Fairy Godmother” (12:00) is fascinating in that it is a tribute to Walt’s wife, the inspiration for the supporting player. Daughter Diane Disney Miller appears here along with an optional video introduction to Cinderella. A new Tangled short appears in “Tangled Ever After”, which was in theaters with the last rerelease of Beauty and the Beast but acts as the lead-in to the Cinderella.
In a nice bit of cross-promotion, Snow White, that is Once Upon a Time’s Ginnfer Goodwin, takes you on a tour of the revamped Fantasyland at Disneyland, as “Behind the Magic: A New Disney Princess Fantasyland” (8:00) emphasizes the Princesses that have proven a marketing juggernaut. More promotion can be found in the focus on designer Christian Louboutin in “The Magic of a Glass Slipper: A Cinderella Story” (10:00).
For Blu-ray fans, there’s the DisneyView option, spotlighting the art of Cristy Maltese, in case those black bars on the sides bother you.
If anything is less than stellar, it’s the Disney Second Screen, accessed via your mobile device or computer, lacking the usual breadth of secrets from the Disney Vault.