Glory be! We finally made it to Cinderella! It’s been an appropriately long time since I watched this one, and I’m glad we got through the odd and inconsistent 1940s package films to reach the golden, dreamy 1950s. Cinderella is in many ways the ‘number one’ Disney Princess, although Snow White is the first. If you check Google Images, Cindy is usually pictured at the center of the Disney Princess flying-v line-up. Observe:
While perhaps our modern sensibilities and craving for fierce, fearless ladies in leading roles may tell us that the earlier Disney Princesses are weak or wimpy, I’d like to encourage you all to remember that Snow White was fourteen years old and Cinderella was one of the most humble, dignified, good-hearted people on the planet. Let’s begin, shall we?
The Film: Cinderella (1950)
- At the time Cinderella was made, Disney was $4 million in debt. The film cost $3 million to make. The profits from the film, however, were enough to bankroll several later films, save the entire company from bankruptcy, and fund the initial work on building Disneyland. Also during the 2005 re-release, it made $64 million, selling 3.2 million copies in the first week.
- The story came from Charles Perrault’s fairy tale, which – for those of you playing along at home – is an Aarne-Thompson type 510A – “the persecuted heroine.” There are hundreds of variants of this type of story the world over, the oldest of which (dating back to 7 BC) is the story of Rhodopis, a Greek slave who marries the King of Egypt.
- This is rated one of the best animated films of all time by the American Film Institute.
- Live action reference was used to keep animation costs down – in fact, approximately 90% of it was filmed live.
- Cinderella marks the first time that Disney sought its musical composition from Tin Pan Alley – and you can tell. The music in this film is iconic, catchy, and unified in a way that previous Disney films are not. It was also the first film where Disney copyrighted and released the soundtrack under the newly minted Walt Disney Music Company.
- This film also features one of the pioneer examples of double track vocals long before it was used in pop music.
- Walt said later that the torn-up dress Cinderella wears was inspired by Salvador Dali, and the impeccable ballgown she wears is heavily influenced by Christian Dior, who was just becoming a worldwide presence in the fashion industry.
- Walt had two films in progress at once: Cinderella and Alice in Wonderland. Rather than schedule them himself, he challenged the production teams to race each other to finish and determine which film would release first.