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The Cinderella Trilogy on DVD: Cinderella | Cinderella II: Dreams Come True | Cinderella III: A Twist in Time

Cinderella: Platinum Edition DVD Review

Cinderella (1950) movie poster Cinderella

Theatrical Release: February 15, 1950 / Running Time: 75 Minutes / Rating: G

Directors: Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske, Clyde Geronimi

Voice Cast: Ilene Woods (Cinderella), Eleanor Audley (Lady Tremaine), Verna Felton (Fairy Godmother), Rhoda Williams (Drizella), James MacDonald (Gus, Jaq, Bruno), Luis Van Rooten (King, Grand Duke), Don Barclay (Doorman), Lucille Bliss (Anastasia), June Foray (Lucifer), Betty Lou Gerson (Narrator), Clint McCauley (Mice), William Phipps (Prince Charming)

Songs: "Cinderella", "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes", "Sing, Sweet Nightingale", "The Work Song", "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo", "So This is Love"

Buy from Amazon.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Page 1: Platinum Edition - Movie, Video and Audio, Bonus Features, Menus, Closing Thoughts
Page 2: Collector's Gift Set in Detail

After seven years of making fragmented "package" films to cut costs with the world at war, Walt Disney's 1950 release Cinderella marked a return to the format with which he launched the animated feature film -- the fairy tale. Loosely adapted from Frenchman Charles Perrault's late-17th century book, Cinderella tells the story of a spirited young lady who is reduced to being an overworked servant at the hands of her relentlessly cruel stepmother and unpleasant stepsisters.
News of a royal ball to which the attendance of all local eligible bachelorettes is sought gives Cinderella hope for a happy evening out and maybe more, for it is being thrown to find a handsome prince a suitable wife. But stepmother Lady Tremaine sees to it that only her daughters by birth, Anastasia and Drizella, go with the prospect of catching the prince's eye. Until, that is, the Fairy Godmother shows up, works a little magic, transforms Cindy's shredded dress into an elegant gown, and whisks her off to the dance.

Despite having a lovely night of waltzing with a charming stranger, the fact that the magic will wear off at midnight forces Cinderella to exit in a hurry, thus separating her from her newfound love and leaving only a glass slipper behind. I'm sure you know this much and the rest, and chances are you know it from Walt Disney's widely-seen and adored retelling.

With only that much to comprise the central plot, Disney's 74-minute feature (the DVD's new end credits bump it up to an even 75) would certainly need something more. To that degree, there are talking animal sidekicks, the oft-assumed "Disney fairy tale staple" which most truly exists in this film. Two mice, Jaq and the roly-poly Gus, are Cinderella's best friends and, along with their fellow creatures, are the only ones who seem to care about Cinderella (until later, anyway). Their chief nemesis is Lucifer, a pampered black cat with a mean streak. Throw in some slow-paced songs, a prolonged climax, and no shortage of animal antics, and you have a slight, but fondly-remembered classic that children of three different generations have now grown up with.

Cinderella starts her morning in a better mood than most, singing to agreeable blue birds. Lady Tremaine is one bad woman. What was Cinderella's dad thinking?!

Cinderella is credited with reviving the Disney studio, for its massive success assured that feature-length animated magic was not to be a short-lived phenomenon. I'm glad that audiences connected with it, because the format has given the world countless great cartoon films since. But, personally, I cannot see Cinderella as one of Walt's best creations. For me, Disney's first five films stand out for unique reasons -- Snow White for its well-realized launch of the format, Pinocchio for its captivating story, Fantasia for its innovation, Dumbo for its heart, Bambi for its realism -- but no aspect of Cinderella makes a lasting impression on me nor gives it a special place in the canon. The film just does not seem to do a great deal in its running time, nor does it provide a story, music, or animation which really resonate with me in any way above the studio's works which came before or after.

There's a good chance I might be the reason the film doesn't have this great effect over me like it does for others and other Disney films do for me. Maybe it's because I didn't grow up watching it regularly and being enchanted by it (I believe my current viewing tally is five) or maybe it's because I'm not a girl and can't relate to wanting to dress up in a pretty gown and go dancing. Maybe it's quite simply because there must to some degree be a lesser entity among all great things.

As it is, I can certainly appreciate the film -- it's extremely watchable and has held up better than plenty of other studios' live action films from the '50s -- but I'm just not moved by it the way I am by Alice in Wonderland's wit, Peter Pan's imagination, Sleeping Beauty's visual beauty, or even The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad's winning atmosphere. Does that make me an anomaly among Disney fans? It seems like it, but then I have somewhat similar feelings, but and only a slightly greater connection to the much-loved Beauty and the Beast. So that's where I stand. I won't pretend that I am marveled by Cinderella and I can't vocalize entirely why that is. But I'd be a terrible critic if I weren't able to point out some things that do and don't work for me, so I'll proceed to briefly do that, if you haven't already skipped on to my critique of the DVD.

This shot says everything you need about these oft-featured supporting mice: Gus is chubby, while Jaq is a go-getter. Cinderella can't possibly stay out any later than midnight!

Most of the elements which make up Cinderella are fine but unspectacular. The two bounciest songs, the mice's infectious "The Work Song" and the Fairy Godmother's "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo", seem to fail me only on account of being overplayed. The others are surprisingly solemn but slightly more appealing, with "Sing Sweet Nightingale" being my odd favorite.
At its heart, Cinderella does have an interesting story of a likable girl overcoming her unappreciative obstacles. To compensate for the paucity of this tale, though, the film aims to divert early on with an excess of antics by animals whose presence is only paid off later. The lack of really interesting animation that feels important makes the affair seem especially thin and the proceedings lack a consistent hold on the attentions, especially for the modern viewer. Gags are called upon repeatedly to sustain interest when the simple plot does not move forward. Some of these are funny, including the fiery interactions of the Grand Duke and the King and the laugh-getting bits involving the mice and Lucifer, but they're not supportive of the film as a whole. Gus and Jaq may have our full support in the later portions of the film, but they are given too much time and not enough to do in their introductory sequences when they can only be recognized as the most sympathetic characters (along with Cinderella) on repeat viewings.

The animation relies heavily upon actual human movement, a fact this DVD points out with a glimpse of the extensive live action reference images used. While Cinderella seems believable and likable as a person, her stepmother wavers between too eerily realistic and just plain stiff, while her stepsisters are goofy caricatures. None of the design seems to coincide, and the intelligible animals appear to operate on a separate plane as well. As for the locations, most of the movie takes place in uninspired parts of the tangible domestic setting, where backgrounds are simply a color or two. The ballroom sequence and those immediately on either side of it do amplify the artistry and allow for the Disney animators to weave some indelible images, but too much of the film feels stagnant and drab, which I suppose is somewhat the point, but not an endearing one.

To its benefit, Cinderella does boast some potent sequences, and these are the ones you are most likely to remember even if you haven't seen it in a while. It's not easy to forget the mice and blue birds teaming up to make a suitable ball dress for their friend, nor the bell-ringing happy ending Cinderella is met with. Likewise, in case it's not clear, the film improves upon the themed short-compilations which occupied the Disney animators between Bambi and Ichabod and Mr. Toad. Those productions, particularly the two music-oriented ones and two with a Latin America flavor (pairs easy to confusedly reflect upon), do offer some creative artwork and tales amidst select vignettes, but their chief value is historical and artistic, rather than emotional. Cinderella most definitely restores a human touch that any film composed of unrelated segments would struggle to maintain.

The Fairy Godmother effortlessly weaves her magic. The mice and birds, on the other hand, have to work hard to achieve great things.

Dragging out the movie portion of this review would seem to be the literary equivalent of my complaint about Cinderella's narrative. Most audience members connect strongly with this film, which explains how much pressure there is for my review to do this longest-awaited animated Disney DVD justice and how carefully I try to verbalize my criticisms of the film so as not to raise the ire of its enormous following. Taken on its own, Cinderella is a colorful and fairly fun way to spend 75 minutes. Stacked up against the brilliance of the Disney studio's many other creations, however, I cannot help but acknowledge that it falls short, as the slightest of Disney's most beloved early classics.

Buy Cinderella: Platinum Edition from Amazon.com DVD Details

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio (Fullscreen)
Dolby Digital 5.1 Disney Enhanced Home Theater Remix (English, French, Spanish),
Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
Subtitles: English; Closed Captioned
Release Date: October 4, 2005
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $29.99
Black Keepcase with Cardboard Slipcover

VIDEO and AUDIO

As has come to be expected from the Platinum Edition treatment, the painstaking restoration employed ensures that Cinderella looks magnificent. It is presented in 1.33:1 fullscreen (the correct route taken for an Academy Ratio creation like this) and is literally as pleasing on the eyes as a brand new animated feature. This fact raises some questions about Disney's accurate touting of the film being "restored beyond its original brilliance." There is nothing about the transfer to suggest that this movie is 55 years old -- no print flaws (thankfully), but no grain either, merely digital perfection. Furthermore, the colors are especially bright, possessing a vibrancy one doubts was ever displayed even on its first day of theatrical exhibition. To complain about that would be tantamount to lamenting than an old book lacks an "old book smell", but the completely sterile nature of the picture betrays the vintage roots of the film (moreso than past digital overhauls of older films like Snow White and Bambi might have), an aspect that the included bonus features do not quite satisfactorily convey either. This reality may upset purists, but it is more likely to amaze those accustomed to worn-out videocassettes and one cannot deny that the presentation is a revelation, even on sequences with simple visuals (which can be said about much of Cinderella).

Soap bubbles rise as multiple Cinderella voices make "Sing Sweet Nightingale" a likable little number. Her ugly stepsisters don't perform the song as well.

In the audio department, the DVD follows suit in the Platinum tradition of offering two English language tracks -- something cleaned up which resembles the original theatrical soundtrack (Dolby Digital Mono) and a trumpeted, re-tweaked Disney Enhanced Home Theater Remix in Dolby Digital 5.1. Both are satisfying, and even purists will be glad that the default 5.1 track does not betray the original recordings. If the Enhanced Home Theater Remix achieves anything unique (and it's certainly not a wall-shaker like others have been), it is in the widening of the soundfield, especially noticeable in the music.
I'm sure much work was put into achieve something in both presentations that will only receive notice if it's errant (the booklet inside claims Cinderella's soundtrack had the most "hiss" remasterers Lowry Digital have ever had to overcome). As such, I can't think of much to elaborate on, and I don't think you will either, aside from the fact that Cinderella boasts crispness and fidelity you would not expect from most 55-year-old films.

Two very minor notes on changes from the original theatrical release: 1) The blue castle Walt Disney Pictures logo appears at the beginning of the film (as opposed to the RKO logo that initially launched the film), but fortunately the original score that accompanied that appears to have been untouched. 2) Some new "Restoration Credits" appear at the end of the movie, seamlessly matching the opening title screens in appearance. They include the names of individuals who oversaw the remastering process for DVD as well as some voice performers (like June Foray and Mike Douglas) who previously went uncredited for more than half a century. Modern audiences have come to expect post-feature credits, so there's little reason to object to the brief, consistent screens which now follow the film.

DISC 1 BONUS FEATURES

Disc One is as light on genuine special features as a Platinum Edition ever has been. There is no audio commentary nor even an "Inside Walt's Story Meetings" transcript recreation as there was on Bambi. The exclusion of any bonus audio is surprising and certainly disappointing for fans of the movie. After all, commentaries are now one of the most prevalent supplements and almost a prerequisite for any non-Spielberg film DVD. With the time it took Cinderella to come to DVD, the breadth of the campaign behind the release, and the number of individuals Disney rounded up to participate on Disc 2 who were either involved in production or are knowledgeable or participants, the absence of screen-specific discussion is more or less, inexcusable.

Cast members of the Disney Channel original series "Phil of the Future", "The Suit Life of Zack and Cody", and "That's So Raven" pool their vocal talents to needlessly put a new dance spin on "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes." The making of the Music Video is almost as long as the video itself, and yet it still packs in multiple screens to satisfy your Disney Channel star viewing needs. Former NFL quarterback Joe Namath hosts "Cinderella Stories presented by ESPN Classic" which has as much to do with Disney's Cinderella as you might suspect. (Nothing.)

Instead, we get two music videos. The first is the obligatory cover by the Disney Channel "Circle of Stars." That group title is well-deserved; the talent here is pretty remarkable, as you get such big names as "the little sister from Phil of the Future", "that Asian girl from The Suite Life of Zack & Cody", and my personal favorite, Raven (yes, The Raven). They butcher "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes" (3:45), turning it into a dance number, which they underscore with their arrogant gyrations and excessive camera-mugging.
Not to be one of those overly negative people, since it's a pretty harmless affair that will excite plenty of viewers, but it is kind of a lose-lose situation for the featured youths; if they make it bigger than the tween market presence they currently have, they'll look back at this and be embarrassed - and if not, this is one of their career high points. If this thought is on their minds, it sure doesn't look like it in "The Making of the Music Video" (3:19) which shows the entire gang (which has been heavily revamped from its last incarnation on 2003's The Lion King DVD) laughing it up at their "big, huge Disney party" and all the work that went into producing this new take on the enduring Cinderella song.

The second music video is "Every Girl Can Be a Princess" (2:23), a new song currently making a number of appearances on CDs from Walt Disney Records, "performed by Cinderella" (though it doesn't sound like Ilene Woods, then or now, because it's sung by Susan Egan of Hercules) and uncredited mice. It's sort of a catchy tune, in spite of the generic message. The video features clips of Cinderella and her fellow Disney princesses Ariel, Jasmine, Belle, Aurora, Pocahontas, and Mulan. Alas, those wanting a peak behind this curtain get no such making-of short here.

On this first disc, we also get "Cinderella Stories Presented by ESPN Classic", a 34-minute demonstration of corporate synergy run amok. On its own merits, this is an intermittently engaging and well-produced documentary on triumphs in sports. But it has nothing in the slightest to do with Cinderella despite the oft-used titular phrase and feeble attempts by host Joe Namath to draw parallels. The former NFL quarterback introduces individuals who found victory against the odds. Pretty much every popular organized sport is covered in the ten vignettes, from the Super Bowl win by Namath's Jets and Kirk Gibson's chain-pulling World Series homer to cyclist Lance Armstrong's conquering of cancer and the 1980 US Olympic team's Miracle on Ice. Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Mia Hamm, and the tennis-playing Williams sisters are thrown in to fill the female role model quota. I'm betting a majority of people buying Cinderella on DVD weren't exactly clamoring for more than a half hour of athlete heroics. I can appreciate the time and effort that went into creating this (all of the relevant talent was brought in for new interviews), but it was misguided. A quick note to all studios: when putting a widely-beloved 50+-year-old film on DVD, keep in mind that the majority of fans would rather have extras that have something to do with the film (like say, an audio commentary) than programming from a cable sports network you happen to own.

Of course, before moving onto Disc 2, it should be mentioned that there are plenty of sneak peeks for other Disney properties to be found on Disc 1, including some never-before-seen previews that may arouse or repel you. At the start of the disc are automatically-playing spots for Lady and the Tramp: Platinum (the next and seventh in the line, due in February), Chicken Little, the long-off direct-to-video Cinderella III (which merely dubs over dialogue and uses video effects on matted shots of the original film), and Disney Princess: A Christmas of Enchantment (offering more dubbed-over film scenes). As usual, these can be skipped and accessed from the Sneak Peeks menu, which also holds a scene from Bambi and the Great Prince of the Forest (which has since been renamed Bambi II) and additional promos for The Little Mermaid (next October's Platinum Edition), Kronk's New Groove, Pooh's Grand Adventure: The Search for Christopher Robin, Toy Story: 10th Anniversary Edition, Cars (the "danggum" teaser which is oddly vertically stretched), and Walt Disney World's "Cinderellabration." Finally, for those who like previews which can lead to instant gratification, there is a 52-second preview for Disc 2 available directly from the first platter's menu. It's especially good they put it here, since otherwise the casual viewer might just assume the second disc's supplements are just as flimsy as Disc 1's.

Don Hahn, producer of contemporary Disney hits and misses, introduces the two deleted scenes. Hahn also acts as your host for "The 'Cinderella' That Almost Was" in the Backstage Disney portion of the disc. Cinderella performs some psychedelic self-multiplication in the deleted sequence "The Cinderella Work Song." Perry Como and Cinderella (Ilene Woods) introduce the songs from the film to television audiences in this priceless excerpt.

DISC 2 BONUS FEATURES

Disc Two's extras are divided into four sections. First of these is Deleted Scenes, which holds two substantial sequences introduced by contemporary animation producer Don Hahn. Both excised segments are musical numbers and are in the mode of Disney's well-intentioned equivalent to the live action concept of a deleted scene. This means neither offers any unused animation; instead, a mix of color and black & white storyboards and concept art are edited together and set to the songs (one of which is an original demo, the other is newly-recorded from old sheet music). In "The Cinderella Work Song" (3:20), the overworked protagonist imagines herself multiplying (a la the brooms in Fantasia's "Sorcerer's Apprentice" segment) to get her tasks done in time for the ball. "Dancing On a Cloud" (4:35) has overtones of "So This is Love" (the song which wound up replacing it) and its imaginative imagery takes Cinderella and her Prince into the clouds and other magical places the mind can concoct. While the two scenes feel on the slow side and likely won't inspire wishes they were completed, they are, of course, highly interesting to see.

Music & More holds a host of vintage broadcasts and demos, most of which are ported from Cinderella's deluxe 1995 CAV laserdisc. First is "Cinderella and Perry Como" (6:45), a newly-released excerpt from the early years of the crooner's television program. In this 1950 episode, songs from the film are premiered and performed by show host Como, his regular backup singers The Fontane Sisters (who briefly dress as mice), and guest Ilene Woods, the voice of Cinderella. It's perhaps the most exciting of the archival material presented, and there's even an appearance by Donald Duck.

You'll also find the original demo of the "Cinderella" opening title song (2:10), plus seven more demos (17:20) of songs that weren't used in the film (including the previously-heard "Dancing On a Cloud"). Most are catchy enough and would have been interesting to experience set to visuals, which they are not. A number of the tunes are upbeat and bouncy; in other words, they feel like they would be at home in Alice in Wonderland or among the abandoned demos on its bonus disc. The more wistful ones are semi-reminiscent of Sleeping Beauty. All are pretty old-fashioned (both in style and the mildly rough quality of the recordings), but their inclusion is a good thing.

Finally, aural nostalgia is delivered in three excerpts of radio program appearances made by Ilene Woods. The first, "Village Store" (2:35) from March of 1948, offers the news that Ms. Woods has been cast as Cinderella for Walt Disney and follows up with her singing "When You Wish Upon a Star" from Pinocchio. The other two, "Gulf Oil Presents" (5:25) and "Scouting the Stars" (4:20), both from 1950, feature Woods recounting how she got the part, singing "A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes" and talking about her background. As is the case in many vintage entertainment programs, these interviews are clearly being read from a script, but that only adds to their old-fashioned charm.

Alyson Stoner (a.k.a. "Sally") tries some yoga with real-life princess Catherine Oxenberg in the surprisingly substantial (and hardly related) "House of Royalty" 'activity.' Design your dream room (or gown or palace) in the fun DVD-ROM extra "The Royal Life." The Disney Princess DVDs get a taste of their own medicine, as one of their "original" features - the "Princess Pajama Jam" - is recycled here.

Three entries can be found under Games & Activities, though only two offer DVD-Video material. First is "House of Royalty" (17:55), which amounts to a three-part commercial for the Disney Princess consumer mentality. Alyson Stoner (Sally from the Disney Channel's DVD-promoting interstitial series "Mike's Super Short Show") is our host, as a young girl who gets a wardrobe, room, and personality makeover care of flamboyant Target designer Isaac Mizrahi, the gang from Buena Vista's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition", and Yugoslovian princess Catherine Oxenberg, respectively. Heavy on style and short on substance, this is the type of fluffy piece where the camera is always moving, music is always playing, and no shot lasts longer than five seconds. While some viewers may be held captive by the eleven-year-old host's discoveries about drawer stencils, curtsying, and the people who teach her how to "look", "live", and "act" like a princess, I was more moved by how this has nothing to do with Cinderella, despite her occasional background cameo (in doll form).

Next is "The Royal Life DVD-ROM Design Studio", which is previewed on the disc, but as implied in the title, requires a computer with a DVD-ROM drive. If you're equipped with that (and most should be nowadays), you'll enjoy the opportunity to design a palace, a gown, and a room fit for a princess (you). The Gown Designer one even lets you import a picture of yourself, with mixed success. The interactive fun this section provides is not groundbreaking, but it is definitely enough to make the highlight of its section and is, believe it or not, the activity most closely themed to the movie at hand.

The last activity is the "Princess Pajama Jam", which is taken directly from Disney Princess Party: Volume 2 (as any astute Disney DVD aficionado will tell you). While some of the activities on the Princess Party discs are actually inspired, this is not. It's merely a 2-minute montage of "Disney princess" film clips with a narrator providing vague directions in a half-singing voice. Unless your idea of fun is to "smile like Belle, smile real well", you're not in the target demographic and will probably want to give it a pass.

Ilene Woods happily reflects on voicing the title character of "Cinderella", but although she has helped promote this DVD, her only interview footage comes from 1995. "The Cinderella That Almost Was" provides a look at storyboards from sequences that didn't quite cut it. An impressive roster of contemporary (read: late '80s/eary '90s Renaissance) Disney talent pays tribute to their predecessors, "Walt's Nine Old Men."

Last but certainly not least, we reach the beloved Backstage Disney part of the disc, which delivers two pages worth of listings for genuine making-of or film-related material. The first four entries are for the disc's most substantial featurettes on Cinderella's production and the people behind the movie.

"From Rags to Riches: The Making of Cinderella" (38:25) is a thorough retrospective, which is divided into four segments on production, animation, voice cast, and music. There's plenty of new interview footage with the Disney animators seen elsewhere on the disc like Andreas Deja and Glen Keane, as well as footage from 1995, shot for the making-of piece that accompanied Cinderella the last time it was released to home video.
The latter is especially useful since most of Walt's "Nine Old Men" have since passed away. New comments also come from longtime Disney songwriter Richard Sherman, Mike Douglas (the singing voice of Prince Charming), Lucille Bliss (the voice of Anastasia), and oft-printed TV film critic Joel Siegel. Each segment is individually available if you don't want to "Play All" and each goes into sufficient detail on things like which each of the supervising animators contributed to the picture and where Cinderella fits into the Disney canon. It may seem a little overly filled with constant praise and having the entire 1995 making-of featurette alongside the new material might have been a little more comprehensive. Nonetheless, it's the best supplement of the set pertaining directly to the film.

Hosted by modern Disney producer Don Hahn, "The Cinderella That Almost Was" (14:16) covers concepts and characters envisioned for Disney's film that were abandoned somewhere along the path to release. As with "Inside Walt's Story Meetings" on the Bambi DVD, some comments by the studio's namesake from production meeting transcripts are brought to life, and artwork shows some of the casualties, like Clarissa the turtle. There's a little bit of overlap with the Deleted Scenes section, but I imagine this featurette will be one to which any fan of the film turns to in satisfying curiosity and learning of elements that "almost were."

"From Walt's Table: A Tribute to Disney's Nine Old Men" (22:00) gathers some of the most esteemed figures in modern day Disney animation at Burbank's Tam O'Shanter pub. ABC film critic Joel Siegel (who has already let down his guard as a Disney fanboy) acts as host to the impressive roster: Don Hahn, Brad Bird, Glen Keane, Mark Henn, Andreas Deja, John Musker, Ron Clements. They all sit at the very table where Walt and his animators regularly ate and talked about current productions. What ensues is a mostly gripping and unrestrained discussion of the individuals that made up "Walt's Nine Old Men" -- the core group of Disney animators, many of whom worked on Disney films from Snow White to the end of their lifetimes. Members of the contemporary gathering recall working with their talented predecessors as well as the movies, characters, and scenes that inspired them to become involved in animation. Archival interview footage of the Nine Old Men supplement the present-day reflections. While you need to have an interest in animation to be as amused with the swapped stories as the featured group is, if you are, this may be the highlight bonus feature of the DVD. It's the complete opposite of fluff, since its fly-on-the-wall approach gladly enables you to peer in on what appears to be a passionate and unabashed chat about the people behind beloved Disney classics. It's worth noting that this featurette has little direct connection to Cinderella, aside from the fact that it is one of only three films that all Nine Old Men worked on.

An excerpt of television footage is briefly seen in "The Art of Mary Blair." That's not a storyboard, but one of several live action reference stills in the Storyboard-to-Film Comparison of this opening scene. Can the music and this the best way to navigate the galleries. Here, concept art for the character of Cinderella is browsed.

"The Art of Mary Blair" (14:56) profiles the art director/color stylist who made numerous contributions to Disney animation from the early 1940s through 1953 and later to Disneyland's "It's a Small World" boat ride attraction. Despite the fact that being a career woman was an anomaly in her age and that her compelling images often differed heavily from the studio's recognizable (and more realistic) depiction of people and places, Blair nonetheless had a great deal of influence on short and feature-length cartoons like Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, The Adventures of Ichabod & Mr. Toad, and of course, Cinderella. Her story is told and contributions praised, as several comparisons illustrate her impact and modern animators reflect on her unique and inspiring work. Though the subject is not solely linked to Cinderella, this entirely new featurette is one of the more interesting pieces on the disc.

"The Storyboard to Film Comparison" (6:46) is more interesting than it sounds, namely because this split-screen feature of Cinderella's rising from the beginning of the movie does more than showcase sketches that resemble the final artwork. It also illustrates how carefully the imagery was choreographed from live action footage, depicted by black and white stills of actress Helene Stanley acting out the part of Cinderella. Naturally, the storyboards and reference photos are almost perfectly timed to the continuous clips from the film's opening.

Fans of DVD galleries will be pleased to know that Cinderella's hold nearly 400 still frames to explore. They are broken down into Visual Development (the biggest single gallery), Mary Blair Art, Character Design (divided into 8 short galleries by character), Costume Design, Storyboard Art, Layouts and Backgrounds, Live Action Reference (which expands upon the glimpses seen in the split-screen comparison), Production Photos, and one of my favorites, Publicity. This goldmine of artwork can be viewed in two ways: as an understandable laziness-friendly slideshow (for each gallery) or as navigable still frames for those who want to control their perusal. Pressing "Mute" is pretty much essential to enjoying the thumbnails route, as the short, looped "So This Is Love" instrumental that accompanies every page will otherwise quickly drive you mad. It would have been wise to either vary the music or, better yet, lose it altogether. As for the artwork itself, it is neat as always to see - some of it is more interesting than other, but by now, you already know your favorite types and whatever your method to approaching this section (browsing all, some or none), it's not likely to let you down.

The 1922 Laugh-o-Gram "Cinderella", Walt Disney's first adaptation of the fairy tale. Helene Stanley is happy to sign autographs for the star-struck Mouseketeers. One of several included theatrical trailers which promotes a return engagement for "Cinderella."

We then get a chance to see Walt Disney's first take on the subject matter with his silent, black and white short Cinderella (7:23), one of a handful of cartoons in the Laugh-o-Grams series which came to theaters in 1922 and represented some of Walt's first contributions to the world of animation. Though highly dated and rather beat-up, it is undoubtedly interesting to see this short, which tells us of Cinderella's plight and redemption. Among the revelations this tighter adaptation makes is that Cinderella's only friend was a black cat, the prince is a "wonderful fellow" who kills bears, and the ball was held on "Tuesday Friday the 13th." While this is definitely worth a viewing, as with some other of the most primitive cartoons, it requires greater audience efforts to stay engaged than the Disney films which would follow.

Next is an excerpt from a 1955 episode of "The Mickey Mouse Club" (3:55) in which Helene Stanley, the live action model for Cinderella and portrayer of Davy Crockett's wife Polly, interacts with some Mouseketeers, recreating a scene from Cinderella. It is brief, but brimming with the old-fashioned fun that pretty much any sequence from Walt's dated but charming variety series delivers. That makes this one of the few good pieces of vintage footage included on the disc.

In a nice touch, a healthy serving of six theatrical trailers (accessible individually or with a "Play All" feature that totals 9:14) from over the years is presented. They range from the very brief 1950 spot to the longer previews for "Christmas surprise" return engagements in the '60s through '80s which spout out phrases like "the most enchanting story ever told." While they're not in the best shape and aren't the most remarkable trailers (almost all make use of the same few clips), their inclusion is welcome and unfortunately stands in direct opposition to the majority of Disney DVDs today.

"Dreams Come True", the very last listing on the set, is only a 90-second public service announcement, which informs you of the great charitable things that the Walt Disney Company does on a regular basis.

There's the glass slipper and that's about as exciting as Disc 1's Main Menu gets. Disc 2's Menu is even less animated. A look at the substantial list of Unused Songs which are ported over from the film's 1995 laserdisc release.

MENUS and PACKAGING

Following the elaborate menus that have adorned past Platinum Editions, Cinderella's selection screens seem pretty simple and boring. After a brief animated introduction, Disc 1's Main Menu (boasting 5.1 sound) takes you on a looped journey in the Duke's carriage - as he (seen only in the window's reflection) and his company (the legendary glass slipper) go in and out through a few locations. Submenus are accompanied only by score selections and the most minimal of animation (typically only a brief transition). Disc 2 takes the same approach, but features Cinderella's enchanted carriage - score selections are abound, but only sparkles are animated from the Main Menu and some transitions. If you'd like something even simpler, both discs offer a text index which pretty pointlessly list some the bonus features headers with no animation or music at all, only to take you to the same place.

As has been the Platinum Edition norm for three full years now, Cinderella is housed in a standard-width black keepcase inside of a cardboard slipcover which opens up in front to provide an overview of the DVD's major selling points. While the front and back of the slipcover replicate the front and back of the DVD cover as usual, you can rest assured that this "opens like a book" slipcover does so via velcro, unlike the many copies involved in the sticky goo Bambi fiasco last March.

Inside the case, you'll find a sweepstakes form to win a Disney World vacation or less remarkable girl-oriented Disney Princess merchandise. The twelve-page "DVD Guide" provides the typical Platinum Edition booklet material: scene selections, supplement overview (which shows where the set's priorities are by devoting a full page to "House of Royalty"), and the usual Platinum line mission statement and date revelation. There is also the second issue of Disney DVD Insider publication, which features The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe on the front cover. More than half of it is advertisements (and lines are blurred when it comes to the "articles"), but there are also some valuable $3 Gift Card coupons (including one for the "NEW 2-DISC SPECIAL EDITION" of Tarzan which has sneakily lost its announced second disc). It's a nice thing to have for free, but I'd at least like to think that readers of a site like this will find little value in it.

Though neither finds out who the other is, Cinderella and her handsome stranger have the perfect night. If the shoe fits...might as well wear it.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

On the merits of the film and the bonus features, I think Cinderella is the weakest Platinum Edition DVD Disney has released to date. But don't let that make you fear its long-awaited digital treatment is a great disappointment; this is far from the case. Many hallmarks of the 2-disc sets in Disney's top-rung DVD line are again present here, most satisfyingly, the drastic and dutiful restoration of one of the studio's most beloved animated classics.

While Cinderella has made Disney busy on its largest home video promotional campaign yet and tying in thousands of consumer products with the release, a bit more attention should have been given to the DVD itself. Though the package does deliver the dazzling film presentation one expects, its behind-the-scenes material feels somewhat lacking. The content ported from the laserdisc remains worthwhile, but among newly-produced supplements, only the retooled making-of documentary and brief piece on abandoned concepts have particular relevance to the film at hand. The featurettes on Mary Blair and Walt's Nine Old Men are both highly interesting, but either could be placed on the discs of other Disney productions from the '40s through '60s which would be more representative of their subjects' finest work. For the lack of an audio commentary in favor of flimsy synergetic inclusions, it also loses some points.

That said, this is still a DVD that is highly recommended -- were it released five years ago or dealt a less ubiquitous marketing strategy, the complaints would likely be more difficult to file. As it is, fans may see room for improvement after such a long wait, but the general public will undoubtedly flock to (and be satisfied in) the simple but enduring fairy tale that resurrected the Disney studio and gave the animated film the new life it has enjoyed to date.

More on the DVD / Buy from Amazon.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Buy the Cinderella: Collector's Gift Set
Buy the Cinderella Collector's Gift Set from Amazon.com

Contains Platinum Edition DVD, numbered film frame, hardcover DVD
Companion Book, and sketches by animator Ollie Johnston

Page 1: Platinum Edition - Movie, Video and Audio, Bonus Features, Menus, Closing Thoughts
Page 2: Collector's Gift Set in Detail

Related Interviews:
Ilene Woods (voice of Cinderella) and producer Don Hahn talk with UltimateDisney.com
Frank Nissen (director of Cinderella III: A Twist in Time) discusses the challenges of making a sequel to a classic

Related Reviews
Other Platinum Editions:
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: Platinum Edition
Beauty and the Beast: Platinum Edition
The Lion King: Platinum Edition
Aladdin: Platinum Edition
Bambi: Platinum Edition
Lady and the Tramp: Platinum Edition
The Little Mermaid: Platinum Edition

Sequels:
Cinderella II: Dreams Come True (Special Edition)
Cinderella III: A Twist in Time

Disney in the 1950s:
Alice in Wonderland: Masterpiece Edition
Sleeping Beauty: Special Edition
Peter Pan: Special Edition
Darby O'Gill and the Little People
Davy Crockett: Two-Movie Set

Related Preorders
Upcoming 2-Disc Disney DVD Sets:
Lady and the Tramp: Platinum Edition
Toy Story 2: Special Edition
Walt Disney Treasures (Wave 5):
Disney Rarities, Celebrated Shorts (1920-1960s)
The Chronological Donald, Vol. 2
The Adventures of Spin & Marty
Elfego Baca & The Swamp Fox

Related Pages:
More on Disney's Platinum Collection
More pictures from the Cinderella DVD
Pictures from the New York Cinderella DVD Premiere
Cinderella in UltimateDisney.com's Top Animated Classics Countdown
Lady Tremaine in UltimateDisney.com's Top Disney Villains Countdown
Cinderella in UltimateDisney.com's Top Disney Heroes & Heroines Countdown
UltimateDisney.com's Top 100 Disney Songs Countdown (featuring "Sing, Sweet Nightingale", "Cinderella", "So This is Love", and "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes")

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Reviewed October 4, 2005.