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  • Writer's pictureCollin Souter

Week # 17: "Cinderella"

(Originally published on 4/28/22)



Run time: 75 min.

Release Date: March 4, 1950.

Where/when I first saw it: Arlington Theater, 1981

How I watched it today: Blu-ray, Sunday morning

“Cinderella” arrived as a reset for Disney studios, a means to get back to basics and do what worked so many years ago before they got sidetracked by WWII. After a series of package films, WWII propaganda shorts and experiments with live-action merged with animation that yielded mixed results, Disney and his team went back to the simplicity of the “Snow White” era and started over with a last-ditch effort to regain the magic that had eluded them during this period. It was do or die time.

It resulted in a glorious payoff for the studio and “Cinderella,” despite also being a bit uneven, still works today. The part that stands out the most today is the design and the mannerisms of the Stepmother. So evil, so cold, yet so refined and subdued, making her even more of a chilling monster than the Wicked Queen of “Snow White.” It grounds the film in a way, but not so much that we can’t buy the playful animal characters as well. There’s somehow room for both, even if it’s a bit lopsided toward Lucifer the cat and the mice it tries desperately to kill.

Even as a kid in 1981 when I saw it in the theater, I couldn’t help but notice how long it took before the actual story of “Cinderella” began to take shape. There was a lot of “Tom & Jerry” going on on screen. When the film ended, it seemed pretty abrupt to me back then and still does today, really. The film triumphs most when viewed through the lens of Disney’s history and how important the film was at the time. It saved the studio and it’s not hard to see why, especially after sitting through the eight or so films that preceded it. The color, the heart, the music, the humor, the effortless simplicity of it all was what brought audiences out in the first place and “Cinderella,” at its best, plays to that notion remarkably well. That suspenseful sequence toward the end of the mice trying to carry the key up the stairs to save Cinderella is a testament to that and serves as a reminder of why the film has endured.


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