Cinderella Still One Of Disney’s Finest After More Than Six Decades

Courtesy: Walt Disney Home Entertainment

Walt Disney’s take on the classic fairy tale, Cinderella is one of the most important stories in the history of Hollywood’s vast arena of animated features.  It is also one of the most important movies in the equally storied history of Disney’s company.  Cinderella was for all intensive purposes, the movie that saved Disney Studios.  Don’t believe that?  Just watch the special features on the brand new upcoming Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack re-issue of this classic Disney story.

Disney Studios’ debut animated feature, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, was a hit.  But as noted in the bonus features of this new re-issue, the two movies that followed—Pinocchio, and Fantasia—paled in comparison to Snow White.  Yes, they were successful movies.  But they never reached the heights of Snow White.  Audiences learn here that until Cinderella came along in 1950, Disney had to rely on military training films for income.  It’s fitting that when Cinderella finally debuted in 1950, its very first musical number centered on dreams and wishes.  Cinderella sings that a dream is a wish your heart makes while you sleep.  When Walt Disney first started up his company, he had a dream; A wish if you will.  And fittingly, Cinderella helped to make Walt’s dream come true just as Cinderella’s dream came true.  As one of the figures interviewed notes, it is in its essence, a rags to riches story.  Take away the romance element of the story, and Cinderella really is an underdog story.  Taken from that angle, it’s a story that every viewer can appreciate.

Courtesy: Walt Disney Home Entertainment

The success of Cinderella can be attributed to a number of factors.  It’s not just that underdog/rags to riches story that makes it enjoyable.  It was the work that went into bringing the story to life that still makes it a success today.  From the animation itself to choosing voice talents to live shoots, the extensive bonus features included in this new re-issue show why despite all the knockoffs over the years, there is still only one Cinderella.  Audiences will be amazed to learn that before pen and pencil even hit paper, Disney actually shot a live action version of the story.  That live action shoot would become the model for Disney’s animators, the famed “Nine Old Men.”

Speaking of models, one animator even proudly displays his physical model of Cinderella’s carriage.  Anyone who has any interest in theater production will be in awe of how he came up with the model that would eventually become its own on-screen legend.

Along with discussions on live shoots and models, also included with this new re-issues is a discussion on Mary Alice O’Conner.  O’Connor was married to animator Ken O’Connor, who was charged with designing Cinderella’s fairy godmother.  It was Mary Alice who would be the model for the beloved figure.  The story of Mrs. O’Connor depicts a woman who was an exact fit for this iconic figure.  O’Connor gave of herself so selflessly throughout her life, expecting nothing in return.  She gave because she wanted to make people happy and took joy in seeing others take what she started and make something even greater from that start.  Anyone who is dry-eyed after watching this feature simply isn’t human.

The feature on Mary Alice O’Connor brings things right back to the feature focusing on choice of voice talents.  By now, audiences should see why Cinderella was, is, and always will be one of the most important works in the history of animated features.

Cinderella will be available Tuesday in a brand new Blu-ray/DVD combo pack in both DVD and Blu-Ray packaging.  Fans can order it online at http://disneydvd.disney.go.com.

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The Rescuers Is One Of Disney’s Masterpieces

Courtesy: Disney/Buena Vista Home Entertainment

The Rescuers was one of the last great animated features of Disney’s Golden era.  The real end of that era came in 1988 with the release of Oliver and Company.  So being that it came only months before the fortieth anniversary of the release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, it likely had a lot of pressure to succeed.  And succeed it did.  It succeeded in its story.  It succeeded in its art and animation.  And it also succeeded in its music.  All combined, these elements made for a movie that was not just a success close to one of Disney’s big anniversaries, but also came to be of the company’s most memorable masterpieces, too.

 Despite what some people allegedly seem to believe, the writers behind The Rescuers waste very little time setting up the story’s main plot.  Audiences are introduced to Penny—albeit indirectly at first—as she sends off a message asking for help from the side of an old riverboat.  It eventually makes its way to New York City where a mouse counterpart to the United Nations called the Rescue Aid Society has convened.  Both Bernard and Miss Bianca are quickly introduced.  And once they’re introduced to audiences, the reason for the story is revealed through Penny’s note.  In less than ten minutes, the main characters and the plot are both revealed.  The story holds solid through the course of its near hour and a half run time, too.  Whether audiences are seeing the story for the first time or the fiftieth, it’s a story that will keep audiences’ attention without fail.

The story alone makes The Rescuers a success.  But, another of the most noticeable factors about The Rescuers that stands out is its combination of art and animation.  The art and animation used in this work is very similar to fellow Disney classics the likes of 101 Dalmatians, The Jungle Book, and even The Aristocats.  As noted in the special features of other Disney films, much of the films’ backdrops were actually painted onto canvasses.  The Rescuers is no different.  The paintings used for the backdrops are stunning in their style and color.  This goes back to an argument noted in the bonus features of many of Disney’s recently re-issued classics.  That argument is on the topic of hand drawn art and animation versus today’s increasing trend towards CG based “animation.”  While the art and animation is similar to that of other classic Disney works, it still gave The Rescuers its own identity.  Having this old school style animation released once again for a new generation against today’s flood of CG based flicks helps to cement how much better that form of art and animation is and always will be.

The art and animation plays its own hand in making The Rescuers a timeless classic not just from Disney, but overall, too.  It’s just one more part of the whole that makes this movie a success.  The music behind The Rescuers also plays its own role.  Unlike so many of Disney’s classics, The Rescuers wasn’t a musical.  The music in this movie was only a backing element to help set the mood of the scenes.  But even in that backing role, it was successful.  Early on in the movie when audiences are first introduced to Penny as she drops her message in a bottle, the music does so much to help set the mood that she must have felt as she watched it float away.  Combined with the artwork of the dreary bayou, audiences are instantly pulled in to the movie from this moment.  It’s one of many moments when the music is perfectly placed to add an extra emotional push to the story.  When it’s added into the mix of the art and animation, and the story, the music behind the Rescuers goes that extra length to make it one of Disney’s greatest masterpieces.

The Rescuers is one of Disney’s masterpieces.  From the script to the art and animation to the music, everything that went into bringing this movie to life makes it a timeless classic.  Nearly ten years have passed since the last time that Disney released this classic to the masses.  Now, it’s being made available once again in a triple disc blu-ray/DVD combo pack, complete with both the original movie and its 1990 sequel, The Rescuers Down Under.  The combo pack is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered direct through Disney’s online store at http://www.disneystore.com

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