Walt Disney had a tough time selling cute cartoons about talking animals during World War II, but in 1950 the story of a hard-up girl who "dared to dream" revived his fortunes. Disney's Cinderella is arguably the best loved adaptation of Charles Perrault's 17th-century fable in which a mistreated stepdaughter wins the heart of a prince. Over half a century later, it still stands as a testament to the magic and wonder of traditional animation over computer generated imagery.
Some Day My Prints Will Come...
Two discs are packed with songs from the film, including those that didn't make the final cut. A couple of deleted scenes are actually musical set pieces (presented as storyboards), one of which finds Cinderella dancing on clouds with Prince Charming. Although it didn't meet the needs of the story, Walt used it later for an adaptation of Perrault's Sleeping Beauty (1959).
Mr Disney was a very hands-on producer as revealed in The Cinderella That Almost Was. Archivists dig up all the old storyboards and transcripts from Cinderella production meetings, opening a window on 30 years of development (during which time the story went through many permutations). Apparently Walt turned it into something of a game show, awarding $500 for visual gags to spice up the action. Still, he remained a judicious storyteller, telling his team, "There's a time when you can gag a thing and times when you have to carry a certain sincere feeling if you want the story to hold."
The surviving members of Disney's key animation team along with voice artists Ilene Woods and Mike Douglas, plus film experts (including Pretty Woman helmer Garry Marshall) reflect on the making of Cinderella in four-part documentary Rags To Riches. "I badly needed the money," says Douglas, who provided the singing voice of Prince Charming but was ditched in favour of the mellifluous William Phipps for the spoken dialogue. Naturally the songs are one of the major talking points because of the inventive way in which they served the plot.
From Walt's Table pays tribute to Walt's "nine old men" - his trusted workforce of (actually very young) animators - some of who are still around to reminisce. Their protégés, like The Incredibles mastermind Brad Bird, share lessons they learnt from the likes of Milt Kahl, Ward Kimball and Ollie Johnston (who made the ugly sisters "a bit too ugly"). Female animator Mary Blair obviously wasn't part of this boys club, but was so influential she gets her own 15-minute featurette. She's credited for "colour and styling", but some go as far as to say that, "Cinderella is the quintessential Mary Blair film." In any case the artwork showcased here is stunning. (These can be viewed separately in one of nine concept art galleries).
Film buffs will relish lots of vintage material like a reel of Laugh-O-Grams from 1922 representing Walt's earliest telling of the Cinderella story. Meanwhile younger viewers can enjoy interactive tips on how to be a princess in the Games & Activities section. In fact, this Special Edition DVD would be a wish come true for any little girl.