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Review - Walt Disney's Cinderella (DVD-2005)
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Cinderella (DVD-2005)

Walt Disney Home Video

Reviewed by Dennis Kwiatkowski

Whenever the Disney studios release one of their animated classics on DVD, it is more than a video release. It becomes an event—and deservedly so. Available now on DVD for the first time is Disney’s fairy tale from 1950— the magic-filled Cinderella.

When the Disney studio undertook to produce Cinderella it was a huge gamble. Although Walt had an enormous hit with the groundbreaking animated feature, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, his following masterworks Fantasia, Pinocchio and Bambi—each lost money upon release, due to cost factors and wartime realities. At the time of Cinderella, the studio was $4 million in debt. If Cinderella had flopped, it would have doomed feature animation at Disney. Fortunately, however, the film was a hit--a huge hit. Its reputation over the years, like that of many of the Disney classics, has occasionally varied and yet, like any fine work of art revisited, Cinderella improves with age.

In 2005, Cinderella holds up better than at any time during the decades since its initial release. Said to be one of Walt Disney’s all time favorites, it’s completely enchanting, featuring exquisite, marvelously expressive animation—especially in its seamless blend of animal and human characters. Part of this may be due to the use of live action motion-study tracing for some of the animation. The film’s story flows effortlessly and the songs are beautifully integrated. The plot’s unfoldment is both cinematic and elegant, and the film features first rate direction, humor, and an infectious musical score of inspired songs. If you haven’t seen Cinderella recently, look again. You will be most pleasantly surprised.

The picture and sound restoration on this disc alone justifies obtaining this special edition set. The stunning picture image, without grain, courtesy of Lowry Digital Images, and the restored and cleaned up soundtrack result in the film’s looking and sounding better than ever. The viewer even has a choice between the Disney Enhanced Home Theatre surround sound mix or the film’s original monophonic soundtrack. Both of them sound great.

Extras in the set include a wonderful new Making of Cinderella documentary, two deleted scenes, seven unused songs, storyboard-to-film comparisons, games and activities for the kids, music videos, trailers and much more! There is also vintage television material such as a splendid Perry Como TV excerpt, treasures from the Disney vaults, background on Iline Woods, who was the outstanding voice choice for Cinderella, radio promotional programs, a tribute to color stylist Mary Blair, and a deeply touching tribute to Disney’s Nine Old Men. Even the House of Royalty feature for the kids, imagining what its like to be a princess (and featuring one of those cloyingly precocious kid actresses) is so enthusiastically produced that it is hard to turn it off.

Cinderella’s songs were written by Tin Pan Alley musicians, secured by Disney to compose hit songs that would help insure Cinderella’s financial success. The songwriting team of Mack David, Al Hoffman and Jerry Livingston came up with A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes, Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo, So This Is Love, and The Work Song, all of which became immensely popular and achieved radio Hit Parade status.

Walt Disney’s artistic vision was such that, though he often employed different lyricists and composers for his films, the resulting songs sounded as though they could have been written by Disney himself—that is they all had a sound, a feeling and a musical sense that is the hallmark of the studio--unmistakably Disney. It is on abundant display in Cinderella, as you can hear for yourself.

Walt Disney Home Entertainment’s Cinderella, magnificently restored, provides another Disney candidate for DVD release of the year. It is a most worthy addition to any film library.

2005 Dennis Kwiatkowski/ Celluloid Dreams

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