“Cinderella” is the quintessential Disney classic but it is certainly not the best. I find that the film’s reputation exceeds the effectiveness of its storytelling; still, the beautiful animation pales in comparison to the film’s importance in changing the landscape of the Disney company forever. Following the commercial failures of “Bambi” and “Pinocchio,” Disney was $4 million in debt. It is hard to imagine a world without Disney’s theme parks and animated features but, without “Cinderella,” the company would have likely fallen into bankruptcy and forever shelved its plans for Disneyland. Thankfully, the critical success of this film led to proof that animated features could be lucrative in the film industry, the completion of Disneyland in 1955, and the company has been at the head of the film and entertainment industry ever since. The significance of Disney World’s Cinderella Castle goes beyond a park icon because it stands as a reminder that dreams can come true… even when a company is deep in debt. The film’s iconic Disney moments have cemented its place in film history, from the animals fixing up the dress to the Fairy Godmother’s song and the fitting of the glass slipper. It has three songs that have remained popular for over 60 years (“A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes,” “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo,” and “So This Is Love”). The music is perfectly integrated into the story, from “Bibbidy” being the spell that transforms Cinderella into a princess, to “A Dream” working as a part of her opening conversation while establishing one of the main themes of the film. This is one of the best fairy tale stories and the animation is absolutely marvelous. The voice acting is great, particularly Ilene Woods as Cinderella (I could listen to her sing “So This Is Love” all day), Verna Felton as Fairy Godmother, and Eleanor Audley as Lady Tremaine (though she’s much scarier as Maleficent). Mickey Mouse even makes a cameo as his "voice" (Jimmy MacDonald) provides the voices for the high-pitched mice. So what is wrong with “Cinderella”? The entire thing feels rushed. Cinderella barely has one dance to establish an important connection with Prince Charming before midnight, there is little time between the ball and the arrival of the Grand Duke, and the ending (Cinderella’s return to Prince Charming/the wedding/the closing of the storybook) is condensed into a few minutes. Moreover, I’m shocked that the Fairy Godmother, one of the most famous Disney characters with one of the most popular songs, is in the film for less than 5 minutes. We've seen the Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo scene replayed so many times that it is easy to forget that it is Fairy Godmother's only scene! Yet there is plenty of time for Gus Gus to drop and stack his food multiple times and Lucifer earns more screen time than Lady Tremaine. I suppose that this story is less complex than that of “Sleeping Beauty” or “Aladdin,” but I wish that I got to enjoy the important moments without feeling so rushed and that the writers would focus more attention on the main characters than the mice. “Cinderella” is one of the first films that come to mind when someone mentions Disney and, while I don’t find it to be one of the best Disney films, it certainly is one of the most memorable.
[Pictured: Classic moment, wish that it had more time to develop]