Hey, guys! Been a while. Not my fault this time, swear. Last time I released one of these I said I was going to make this series into a collaboration with Plotstains (aka Doomed, for those of you who know him by that name), and… I did do that.
Basically how this is going to work is, we’re each going to watch the movie, post our own review on our respective blogs and if we find something worthy of discussion afterwards we will co-write a follow-up post and have it up on both our blogs as well.
At least, that’s how we figured out we want to do this so far. If we think of something else that works out better in the future, we’ll change it up as we go.
Movie Title: Cinderella
Release Date: February 15, 1950
Based On: Cinderella by Charles Perrault
I remember watching Cinderella, but I don’t have that many fond memories of it as a kid. It doesn’t really set off any nostalgia.
Maybe I should point out that I was never one of those little girls who wanted to be a princess. I grew up with three older brothers. I played with their GI Joes and He-Man figures. The whole Cinderella fantasy wasn’t something I was particularly drawn to. I guess that’s why, even though I watched it back in the day, this wasn’t a movie I picked out at the video store (remember those?) very often. If I did go for the fairy tale princess classics, I’d often favor Sleeping Beauty over this one, but… we’ll get to that one when we get to that one.
My Impression Now
I really, really like it. Not gonna lie. This was one of the movies on my list I thought I would have to force myself to sit through, and it’s funny how a lot of the criticisms I wanted to make here gradually died out over the course of my viewings. Though, of course, not all of them.
Let’s start with the positives, though. Cinderella has a lot more personality than what I was vaguely able to remember. And compared to Snow White, I see her character as a major step up in terms of… Being an actual character. She clearly has her own thoughts and feelings about her situation, she expresses impatience, aggravation, and other negative emotions towards her step family, even if only in private, and she comes across more as someone trying to cling to a silver lining than someone who is either oblivious or uncaring to their own situation. She’s hardworking, kind, optimistic despite how unfairly she’s treated, and those are traits I can actually sympathize with. As opposed to Snow White whose only predominant quality was being innocent to the point of stupidity.
Lady Tremaine was a very solid villain. By real world standards she is probably the most believable Disney villain I can think of, in fact. There’s something in the way she talks to Cinderella right from the start of the movie that is just terrifying if you try to imagine yourself growing up under someone like that. The voice actress does a fantastic job of sounding menacing without ever truly raising her voice, never making any direct threats. Everything in that relationship reeks of psychological warping and manipulation. From the moment Cinderella wakes up to do her morning chores to their very first interaction, it becomes more and more clear by the way she just goes through the motions; even when Anastasia and Drizella are complaining to her, that she’s been broken down. She’s optimistic in the sense that she looks for positives and chooses to hold on to them, but she’s also resigned to this being her life. It’s very subtle and very striking at the same time. And as a writer I can’t help but appreciate that depth I didn’t even know existed in this character. Snow White was a very innocent character and that was her whole schtick. She never changed from that. She had no emotional depth or growth to speak of, but Cinderella has the optimism of someone who is constantly trying to stay happy. And eventually, right before the Fairy Godmother shows up, she does fall into despair. In fact, in that whole section with her talking herself out of wanting to go to the ball to thinking she’ll actually be able to go, to then having it literally ripped away from her, she goes through a wider range of emotion than the entire cast of Snow White. And I think it deserves a lot more credit than it gets. You know, it’s a kid’s movie. It’s easy to overlook these things when you leave it on in the background so your kids will shut up for an hour.
Now let’s address some of the criticism I said I wanted to make going into this, and where I think Disney actually did a good job with this story, at least in making an attempt to justify some of the stupider parts of it. Not gonna say they absolutely succeeded, but they tried and I appreciate that.
During the ball they made an attempt to show that Lady Tremaine couldn’t get a clear look at the girl the prince was dancing with. They implied that the Fairy Godmother ‘let’ Cinderella keep the glass slipper after midnight rolled around, either because she knew what was going to happen later or just as a memory of the ball. There is a very brief moment of acknowledgment to the fact the slippers should have turned back to normal and didn’t.
The whole ‘trying on the shoe’ thing was the king’s idea as sort of a loophole to get his son hitched (more on that in a bit) and the Prince isn’t the one who goes try the shoe on the women himself. And that’s a big one. I was actually good this time in not looking up the original tale, but I have watched a fair share of reviews of low-budget fairy tale adaptations (just because I do that, not particularly in preparation for this lol) and they always, ALWAYS, have the Prince himself go around like a moron trying on the shoe on every woman he meets like he has face blindness or something. And I like how they tried to remedy this by having the king being like “Okay, so he’ll marry the owner of the shoe. Find someone to wear the shoe”. The king doesn’t care if it’s the right woman (again, I’ll get more into that in a bit), and the Prince isn’t there for the shoe fittings, so it’s possible he doesn’t even know this is happening at all. It’s a stretch, but… Yeah, alright, Disney. I’ll suspend my disbelief for you on that one. At least you bothered to pay attention.
Now on to what I actually didn’t like about this one. My personal criticisms after watching it three times now. First and foremost… The mice are extremely obnoxious. EXTREMELY. And they didn’t bother me as much as a kid, I think, because I watched this dubbed in Portuguese, and the way they talked wasn’t that annoying in the dubbed version. But I swear, I was rooting for Lucifer to murder the little bastards the entire time. And I hate that they sorta move the plot in a way, because it’s their fault Cinderella had Anastasia and Drizella’s things added to her dress; the mice scavenged them. They have to be the ones to come and unlock the door so Cinderella can come out and try on the shoe… So you kind of have to put up with them. And I was not amused. At all.
The Prince is a plank. I don’t get why everyone loves to complain that the heroines in these early Disney movies lack personality and always need rescuing. I mean, yeah, Cinderella wasn’t a badass, but she was a character with a personality. With a name. The Prince is “The Prince”. The freaking dog can get a name (it’s Bruno), but the guy Cinderella is supposed to marry? Nah. He’s not important. Screw him.
I posted on my Twitter recently that no one ever takes into account the time period these fairy tales were written or take place in when they make criticisms to the insta-marriage relationships in these early Disney movies, but… Honestly… It feels a lot more jarring watching this a third time with a more analytical mindset and seeing all these little nuances in a character just to then watch them supposedly fall in love with a cardboard cutout. It almost undoes all that character depth when you really think about it and that’s just a shame in my opinion.
The king is an asshole. That’s all I have to say about it really. I mean, I could sort of sympathize with him growing distant from his son and wanting the joy of grandchildren before he dies, but he clearly doesn’t give a crap about his son in that process. Like, he hears that he’s in love (instantly, but whatever) and he’s determined to find this woman and make her his wife, but he just.. Doesn’t think that’s at all important. He just wants his son to make a baby and whoever he has to bone to make that happen is good enough for him.
I actually have some fond memories of the music in this movie. Though it’s not from watching the movie. It’s from these VHS tapes I had as a kid called Disney’s Magic English and they were, you know, English lessons. They came with a book and a VHS, my mom would get them at the news stand every week for me. And they had activities and sing-a-longs. And one of them had the Sing Sweet Nightingale section from Cinderella and I freaking loved it. I thought it was just so pretty and I… Still think that. A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes is equally memorable to me for that reason.
HOWEVER. I do not like Bippity Boppity Boo. It’s equally memorable, but not pleasant to me. It will not leave my head and I hate that. Even as a kid, I hated that. I… I want to be harsher on it, because of this, but honestly… It’s a great song. It’s a great song that hinders my enjoyment quite a bit, but it’s still a great song. Damn it.
Overall song rating for Cinderella: 7/10
Racist Moment Spotlight
I couldn’t find one. If you can think of any… Let me know in the comments.
I like this movie. I didn’t think I was going to like it this much. And I was surprised with how much I had to actually say about it. I enjoyed it on my first time viewing and I actually found some depth in it once I sat down with a more critical eye as well, which was an unexpected bonus. I mean, even if I want to say I’m looking too deeply into this, it made me think. It inspired something. If you recall Bambi… I had very little to say about it. It was a story that happened and then other than it was visually stunning for the time, there wasn’t much to pick apart there. It was the fastest review I ever produced. Ever. So I can’t say that you can inject meaning into anything if there wasn’t something already there to find. I don’t believe that if you really want something to have substance you can just make it happen. Not if you’re genuinely looking at it with a critical eye. So I need to give this movie credit. It’s not as visually stunning as some of the previous entries. It’s not as unique or interesting as Pinnochio or Snow White, but I enjoyed it more. I enjoyed Cinderella as a character more than Snow White, and the parts that irritated me were a lot less irritating than the issues I had with Pinnochio, so… My ranking as of now:
- Snow White
So that’s it guys. If you want to read Plotstains’ Cinderella review check it out on his blog. Give him a like and maybe leave a comment shaming him for being the reason I’m so late with this one. 😛
Next up is Alice in Wonderland. I have my reservations about that one, but… Cinderella surprised me. I’ll try to keep an open mind.