Cinderella (1950)
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Cinderella (1950)

Blu-ray

DVD

The studios love it when they can re-release a title in a new format. The title has already recouped its budget and there is a demonstrably proven audience anxious to repurchase something already in their collection. In many cases it might just be a fiduciary decision on the part of the distributors but occasionally the reasons are ones that even the most jaded and can understand and support. One reason is the new release embraces new technology significantly enhancing the viewing experience of the audience. In such instances the improvements in the video and audio quality is sufficient to warrant another investment. The film reviewed here is definitely within that laudable category; Cinderella. Of course I’m referring to the 1950 animated classic from the leader in such films, the Walt Disney Studios. Starting in 1939 with the theatrical release of ‘Snow White’, the first feature length animated film. This created an innovative new way of telling stories and a revitalization of classic fairy tales. The original folk tales used as the basis for these gentle tales generations of mothers have used to lull their children to sleep began as horrific stories better suited to the filmmakers that devised such torture laden flicks as ‘Saw’. One of the greatest contributions Walt Disney made to family friendly entertainment was to redirect these stories of enchantment and turn them into movies laced with themes of good triumphing over evil, love concurring all happily ever after endings. The Disney Princess quickly became a beloved archetype firmly infused into our collective social consciousness and an integral component of popular culture. Throughout the decades many characters have fought evil armed with innocence, intrinsic goodness and unbound love but few have carved out such a memorable and enduring place as Cinderella’. This girl relegated to the ashes, or as it were, fireplace cinders, rose up to find happiness and her place in the highest echelons of their society. Culturally it is a story of class struggle but for the millions of children spanning three generations this is the ultimate story of betrayal, excitement and true love. The most recent release of this treasure is in Blue ray as part of Disney’s on going high definition Platinum Edition series.

At the heart of the story is Cinderella (voiced by Ilene Woods), the only child of a widowed member of the local peerage. Her father marries the unabashed social climber, Lady Tremaine (Eleanor Audley) who has two daughters from her previous marriage; Drizella (Rhoda Williams) and Anastasia (Lucille Bliss). Normally their mother’s dedication to her daughters would be admirable but in the instance it has plunged over the line of rationality to obsession. This film became the origins of the literary staple, the evil step mother. In the world of Disney mother’s typical die off and the demise of Cinderella’s leads to her falling under the maleficent control of the evil step mother. The original story had the step mother mutilating the feet of her daughters to win their place as princess but in usual Disney fashion this psychotic aspect of this character’s persona. The story is exceptionally well known; the step sisters treat Cinderella with utter contempt sabotaging her opportunity to attend the royal ball and met Prince Charming (voiced by William Phipps/Mike Douglas –singing). With a little help from Cinderella’s enchanted Fairy Godmother (voiced by Verna Felton) and the magical assistance from the little animals about, the young woman is soon ready for the dance. Another staple of a Disney Princess movie include a pair of adorable mice, Jaq and Gus. Mirroring the human adversaries the lovable rodents must contend with the step sister’s cat Lucifer (June Foray. It bears noting the vocal talents utilized here. Mike Douglas was a successful singer and host of the first hosts of a popular day time talk show on television. June Foray has voiced a myriad of TV cartoon characters most notably in the cult classic ‘Rocky and Bullwinkle’’ series. One thing that has to be said about the company Walt Disney created; he took great care to attract the most creative people around.

This film represented the return to feature length animated movies after an eight year hiatus imposed by World War II. This was also was a time when Broadway musicals were gaining new popularity and greater scope through movies. Several of the songs included in this movie became hit songs most notably the fairy godmother’s signature song, Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo’’. Another song that became a signature piece for Disney is A ‘’Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes’, a poignant tune that has become part of our culture. For most of us this movie was a fondly remembered part of our childhood. I remember my parents taking me to see it and recall the look of wonderment and the face of my daughter the first we sat down as a family to watch it on video tape. Many families mark the generations with what Disney movies they introduce their children too. This high definition Edition will make sure several more generations to make this film a part of their favorite memories of childhood.

The video here is up the standards set by this Platinum edition. The depth of the color palate is better than ever, matching even the glorified recollections of the film. This was made long before computers and their modern tailor made programs to animate a movie. Remember that each second of screen time requires 24 individual cells or drawings that are 109,440 frames of film to present this film. Behind that number are thousands of sketches drawings and concept paintings to get to what made it on screen. Each frame had to be hand crafted and colored by an army of talented artists carefully making sure the results are consistent as far as color, shading and realism throughout the movie.

Transferring this print to high definition is nothing less than spectacular. The colors are energetic completely devoid of edge effects, grain or any other artifacts. It is certain that watching this on your home theater you are experiencing something richer, more robust and entertaining than anyone has ever seen. The audio is equally impressive. Included is a newly remixed 7.1 DTS-HD Master that fill the room with a crisp, clear soundstage. There is also a theatrical audio track that emulates the tendency to center the audio widely used in the fifties. This is a treasure that has earned it place in every collection.

Tangled Ever After Animated Short
Never Before Seen Alternate Opening Sequence
Personalized Digital Storybook: Bibbidi-Bobbidi-You
Behind The Magic: A New Disney Princess Fantasyland
The Real Fairy Godmother

Posted 10/06/12

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