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.
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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