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20 Weeks of Disney Animation: ‘Cinderella’

In 1950, Cinderella was released. After the package films of the wartime era, Walt Disney returned to the formula he perfected with his early films such as Snow White and Pinocchio. He went back to the classic fairy tale, though of course giving it the usual Disney twist. It is worthy to note that of the two best known versions of the tale, the Grimm version and the Perrault version, this movie is based on the latter, which is considerably less dark.

Read: 20 Weeks of Disney Animation: ‘The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad’

Upon its release, Cinderella became an instant classic. It kicked off the next era in Disney animation, what is now known as the “Silver Age” and lasted until Walt’s death in 1966. This is one of the most watched and most loved Disney classics, and it is easy to see why. The humor, the beautiful music, and the wickedness of the stepmother tie the movie together into a well rounded film for all ages. In fact, in 2018 Cinderella was added to the National Film Registry. Every year they pick out a few films that are deemed to have had a significant cultural impact and Cinderella joined that list which includes other Disney classics such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Dumbo, Bambi, The Lion King.

The imagery in this film is quite unique and set it apart from the Disney films before it. Animator Mary Blair used her designs to give this film its distinct look and the concept art that she created for Cinderella is stunning.

Of course, it is difficult to think of Cinderella without thinking about its magical soundtrack. Classic songs such as “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes” and “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo” are sewn into the fabric of our culture and are known throughout the world, whether one is a Disney fan or not.

Live-action remake: In 2015, Disney released a live-action remake of Cinderella directed by Kenneth Branagh and starring Lily James in the titular role. This movie greatly expanded on the original, making Cinderella a fully fleshed out character and making her backstory more interesting. Also, we learn a great deal more about Lady Tremaine, which makes her a much improved character and a more effective villain.

Cinderella in the theme parks: There is, unsurprisingly, a lot of Cinderella in the theme parks. She appears in numerous parades, live performances, and firework shows. She can also be regularly seen walking around the parks and interacting with guests. In addition, her castle is the one represented in Magic Kingdom and Tokyo Disneyland rather than Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. As for attractions, Tokyo Disneyland used to offer the scary Cinderella Castle Mystery Tour before it being replaced with Cinderella’s Fairy Tall Hall in 2011.

Sequels: Two sequels to Cinderella came out via DisneyToon Studios. The first, Cinderella II: Dreams Come True, was released in 2002 to great success. However, it is Cinderella III: A Twist in Time that is a generally considered a better film and has gone on to become a favorite among Disney fans. For a more in-depth discussion of either of these sequels, you can check out my articles here and here.

Cinderella on the stage: Disney’s Cinderella has an interesting history on the stage. Though never adapted for Broadway like Beauty and the Beast or The Little Mermaid (likely due to the version by Rodgers & Hammerstein), stage versions of the story does exist. One such property is the Disney stage show Twice Charmed, which plays for guests of the Disney Cruise Line. Interestingly, not only does this show share almost the exact plot as Cinderella III, it also shares one of its songs, “At the Ball”, which is sung by Jaq and Gus.

Another version is Disney’s Cinderella Kids which is a 30-minute musical designed for schools and young students to perform. This has all of the classic songs from the film and is available through Disney Theatrical Licensing.

One unique continuation/spin-off of Cinderella comes in the form of a novel which is to be released by Disney Publishing in 2021. This novel, part of the new “Meant to Be” banner is a reimagining of the story meant for the 21st century by writer Julie Murphy. For more information on this adult novel, check out Skyler Shuler’s article on the subject here.

Walt Disney’s Cinderella is currently available for streaming on Disney+.

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