Cinderella (1950), by Albert W. Vogt III

After watching all the Rocky/Creed films, what more logical selection would there be to follow them than Disney’s original animated classic Cinderella (1950).  As I have indicated in reviews of other examples from the golden age of Disney animation, their magic is almost entirely lost on me.  For instance, when I go to the Magic Kingdom and I see the title character’s castle (which is misleading, as we shall see), I wonder how a besieging army would attack it.  One could write that off as being simply my own random, weird thoughts.  And yet I have found articles online that have speculated on the same notion.  Anyway, it and its like have the wonderful advantage of being short, comfortably under an hour and a half in length.  This is perfect when you have other things going on later in the day and, like me, you want to squeeze in a quick review before attending to more important matters.  For me, this will be Mass, and that trumps everything.

Once upon a time, yada, yada, yada. . . .  You know the drill, though one could argue that Cinderella invented the drill in this case.  I suppose this review will help you understand what I am getting at, particularly if you know the tropes around which I am dancing.  La da dada di, dada dum. . . .  So, a young Cinderella (voiced by Ilene Woods) is born to a wealthy father.  Her mother passed away at some point.  When?  Who knows?  Anyway, dad, not wanting to be alone, marries Lady Tremaine (voiced by Eleanor Audley).  She has two daughters of her own, Anastasia (voiced by Lucille Bliss) and Drizella (voiced by Rhoda Williams).  Things are okay until dad dies, and this is when Lady Tremaine becomes the evil stepmother.  As time goes on, Cinderella becomes less a part of the family and more a servant.  She is forced to live in the servant’s tower where her only companions are the birds and rodents to which she sings and talks.  She even makes outfits for them, which she gives to every new member of the colony that shows up inside the house.  As such, the tiny creatures all adore her.  Anyone else behaving in this manner would be examined in a clinical setting, but this is Disney, so it is meant to be cute.  I will hand it to the girl, though, as a practicing Catholic.  Cinderella handles her ridiculous stepsisters and diabolical stepmother with aplomb.  There are other people in this kingdom, namely the King (voiced by Luis van Rooten), who do not take stress as easily.  His source of angst is his son, Prince Charming (voiced by William Edward Phipps, singing voice by Mike Douglas).  The King desires that his son and heir find a bride, and I suppose it is kind of sweet that the main reason he cites to his majordomo (voiced by Luis van Rooten) is that he wants grandchildren.  Aw.  Since Prince Charming is returning that day, the King has his majordomo arrange for a ball to be had that night, and to be attended by every maiden in his land.  Surely, with all these charming ladies in attendance, Prince Charming would find the right woman to marry?  No pressure, right?  Cinderella brings the news of this royal order to her stepmother as soon as it comes, risking Lady Tremaine’s wrath to deliver it. Upon hearing that all eligible maidens are to attend, Cinderella presses her luck by insisting that she be included since she does fit the description.  Over her Anastasia and Drizella’s shocked objections, Lady Tremaine says her stepdaughter can go, provided that she finishes all her chores and has something suitable to wear.  This last part is tricky since the one suitable piece of clothing she has needs a lot of alteration.  This is when the rodents step in, collecting any extra material from the unwanted items downstairs.  Unfortunately, when Cinderella miraculously appears on time for the coach to take them to the ball, her stepsisters notice the bits that they had said they did not want and turn on Cinderella with fury, tearing the dress to shreds.  They then leave with Lady Tremaine as if nothing happened.  Cinderella is devastated.  As she sobs in the garden, her grief materializes her Fairy Godmother (voice by Verna Felton).  After comforting Cinderella a bit, she turns a pumpkin into a coach, the mice into the horses, the horse into the coachman, and the dog into a footman.  Finally, the Fairy Godmother makes a beautiful, glittering gown out of Cinderella’s rags, and it is off to the ball.  She is late to the party, and Prince Charming is despairing of the various women presented to him, including Anastasia and Drizella.  In fact, he looks completely past them because at that moment, Cinderella enters the room.  He immediately goes to her, and, of course, it is love at first sight.  So into it is she that she forgets the Fairy Godmother’s final instructions: that the spell that created her appearance ends at midnight.  The clock strikes at the appointed hour and she hurries away without giving her name, or learning Prince Charming’s true identity.  She does, however, leave behind one crucial clue: a glass slipper.  This is found by the majordomo.  Because Prince Charming has his heart set on the wearer of said footwear, the majordomo spends the following day going about the kingdom looking for the right person.  When they get to Lady Tremaine’s estate, she realizes that it is Cinderella they are looking for when the girl adopts a dreamy look as the previous night is discussed.  To prevent any happiness from creeping into Cinderella’s life, Lady Tremaine locks the girl in her tower as the majordomo tries to get the shoe on Anastasia and Drizella’s foot.  The struggles and ultimate failures provide enough of a distraction for the rodents to steal the key from Lady Tremaine’s pocket.  Once freed, Cinderella is able to make it downstairs just in time, and even brings along the other slipper when the first one breaks thanks to Lady Tremaine.  And Cinderella and Prince Charming live happily ever after.

I am sorry, but I could not resist the classic ending of a classic story as classically told by Disney with Cinderella.  There is nothing wrong with it, but it is a big yawn for me in a lot of respects.  I mean, Lady Tremaine and her daughters are mustache twirling villains.  Put simply, they are the worst.  Their only motivation is to be cruel, and regardless of my Faith, I cannot understand this behavior.  Another aspect I have trouble understanding is this Fairy Godmother business.  My Faith does tell me to like the notion of believing in your dreams no matter how hard life might get.  That is a beautiful testament, and it works in a number of ways.  It speaks to God’s call.  If you believe in your heart that God is telling you to do something, it will withstand anything.  Yet, the Fairy Godmother is problematic.  I understand she is not meant to be God, and yet she had god-like abilities.  Faith is not some kind of magical, wish granting magic.  The things that Cinderella wants are pure enough, and the way she endures her trials makes what happens to her sweeter.  At the same time, there is no sense of an overarching plan, which is what Faith can provide.  Cinderella is not surrendering to a higher power so much as just wishing things are different.  This is understandable, but shallow.  Could God do what we see in this movie?  Yes.  What is missing, though, is a larger purpose.  Then again, I guess that is not the point.

Okay, now that I have gotten this review of Cinderella written, it is time to go to Mass.  I will pray that if I am blessed with a rags to riches story of my own that it will be done in service to God’s will.  In the meantime, there is nothing wrong with watching this movie if you want something to which to fall asleep.


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