Bippidi. Boppidi. Booyah.

Cinderella (1950)

Soundtrack/Score/Music: 7

Story/Screenplay/Narrative: 8

Characters/Characterization/Voice-Acting: 6

Art Direction/Design: 7.5

Themes/Archetypes/ Artistic Interpretation: 8.5

From Wiry:

Do we really even need to do a summary for this one? The Cinderella story is up there in an elite crowd of fairy tale well-knowedness with the likes of "Red Riding Hood" and "The Lambkin and the Little Fish." Well, maybe not the latter. The Disney version is especially notable because it has entered the cultural mindset as a definitive version of the tale, and yet it's easy enough to find alternate takes. There's the Rodgers and Hammerstein telemusical, not to mention the (oh) thousands of variations throughout pretty much every culture.

It's really the details that vary. In this version, Cinderella's father is not around. She instead has the company of various household rodents and birds. She goes about her daily chores, abused by her stepmother and stepsisters. On this particular day, a ball is announced for all eligible maidens. The stepmother tries to prevent Cinderella from going by imposing heavy chores and a dress code, but Cinderella's faunic friends form fabric discarded by the stepsisters into the necessary gown. The stepsisters, thinking Cinderella had stolen from them, rend the dress asunder and leave her crying in the garden as they head off to the ball. Then there's some bippidi action and we've got pumpkin carriages. Cinderella makes it to the ball and dances with a gent she somehow fails to realize is the prince. Yadda yadda slipper, yadda yadda stepsisters can't fit. What's interesting in this version is Lady Tremaine (that's the wicked stepmother, y'all) realizes Cinderella is the lady in question and actively blocks her. In many other versions, the stepmother just wants to hide this scuzzy maid, but here, Lady Tremaine first locks Cinderella and, when mousy plot devices fix that, she trips the footman (ha!) carrying the slipper, causing it to shatter. Fortunately, Cinderella, the coy minx, kept its brother. Suck it, Tremaine.

I think it's really impossible to argue that the Cinderella story is anything other than iconic. We can't really fauly source material here, though I've sort of always been bothered by the fact that any interpretation requires Cinderella to be a soggy blanket with no self-esteem who is too nice to ever challenge her oppressors. Ah well. The biggest Disney addition here is definitely the animal aspect. While one could make the argument that the battle between the mice and Lucifer is the Cinderella/Tremaine struggle make physical, but RM correctly pointed out that it's really just tarted-up Tom and Jerry. The mice themselves are cute, memorable, and probably some of the better annoying animal sidekicks in Disneydom, but the time spent with them really ought to have been used to flesh out the major plot players, like the neglected prince or the stepsisters.

I should disclose that I recently watched the Rodgers and Hammerstein Cinderella from 1997. The Brandy one. And while a lot of people have issues with this version (like colorblind casting, which, if that's your biggest beef... you're an idiot), I think there's a lot it does better than Disney. For starters, it spends more time with the actual characters instead of dallying in animal slapstick. Second, and this isn't particularly fair but oh well, the music's better. The numbers other than "Bippidi Boppidi Boo" and the micey "Work Song" have not aged particularly well, though I do enjoy them as far as vanilla ballads go. Honestly, I think what the Disney version has going for it most is that everyone knows it and likes it well enough for it to hang around on so many "top" lists. It's hard to find fault with it without sounding like a grump, but it's hard not to compare it to other versions and wonder why it's so definitive when it misses so many opportunities.

From RM:

Looking at this film artistically is a very interesting experience. Some of the character design is very beautiful, and some of it looks like it's from a Goofy cartoon (the classic "Yah-hoo-hoo-hooey!" falling sound is even in the film). However, the film's attention to artistic detail is very impressive. Architectural attention to detail is better done in later films, mostly Beauty and The Beast, which is of a similar time-frame and design, but it is still very prettily done in this film.

What I take away from this film is likability, and the lack of it that I get from this movie. We've gotten 1/3 of the way through the canon at this point, and I can't honestly say I like this movie more than The Jungle Book. I acknowledge that it is better, in the way that I acknowledge that David Byrne is better than Toni Basil, but I'd still rather hear "Hey Mickey" before "Dream Police". Perhaps that makes me a fool. Perhaps I am. Perhaps it is simply the utter dearth of human male characters under the age of fifty for me to identify with. Perhaps I'm just repressing my own sad history with wicked stepmothers. I can't tell anymore.

Final Grade: B

Current Rankings:

1.) The Lion King
2.) Sleeping Beauty
3.) The Hunchback of Notre Dame
4.) Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs
5.) Peter Pan
6.) Cinderella
7.) Lady and The Tramp
8.) The Great Mouse Detective
9.) Pinocchio
10.) The Jungle Book
11.) The Black Cauldron
12.) Mulan
13.) The Three Caballeros
14.) Treasure Planet
15.) Saludos Amigos
16.) Fun and Fancy Free


It is probably the most definitive because it provides the best example of what that story is really about ... being a meek and martyr-like woman until God rewards you with a man!

:) Just to offer up the necessary bitchy feminist comment.

October 15, 2008 at 2:39 PM  

Newer Post Older Post Home