Cinderella appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.37:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was a consistently appealing presentation.
Sharpness always looked strong. Very few signs of softness materialized, as the vast majority o the ilm appeared tight and concise. Moiré effects and jagged edges caused no concerns, and I noticed no signs of edge enhancement. As for print flaws, I detected no problems. The image was clean and fresh.
Colors appeared lush and full. The movie went with a fairly pastel palette that the disc depicted well. The tones seemed smooth and rich. Black levels seemed nicely deep and dark, and shadow detail was fine. Contrast was solid as well, as whites were pure and clean. Don’t expect any problems from this excellent transfer.
The DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundtrack of Cinderella proved less satisfying to me, largely because I don’t think it added anything to the experience beyond what we’d get from the original monaural mix, which also appeared here. The soundfield stayed pretty close to the center. Virtually all singing and dialogueemerged from the middle speaker, and most effects remained there as well. It was the music that expanded to the forward right and left channels, with surprisingly heavy reinforcement of the tunes in the rears.
At no point did I note any particularly discrete audio from the front or rear sides; the music in the speakers offered a mildly stereophonic impression, but I couldn't point out a single instance in which I heard a particular distinguishable sound from any of the non-center speakers. The side and rear channels simply echoed the music and didn’t issue clean stereo imaging.
Audio quality seemed fine for its age. Considering the era, speech sounded pretty natural and firm. The lines were slightly thin but not bad given the circumstances of the period. They lacked any edginess and were consistently crisp and intelligible. Music failed to demonstrate great range but seemed acceptably smooth and clear. I wouldn’t call the score and songs rich or vibrant, but they seemed pretty distinctive for material from 1950.
Effects followed suit and sounded clean but unexceptional. I noticed no distortion and thought they represented the original audio well. Cinderella didn’t use many effects anyway, so they were a very minor factor. Bass response seemed acceptable for the era.
Overall, this was a perfectly listenable track, but again, I didn’t understand what purpose it served other than so Disney could market it with a “new and improved” mix. Sometimes I like multichannel remixes, but this one didn’t do it for me. The way the music spread broadly to all five channels became a minor distraction, one that didn’t add anything to the experience. I listened to the 5.1 track for this review but in the future, I’ll definitely stick with the more satisfying monaural mix.
How did this Blu-ray compare to the original DVD from 2005? The lossless audio appeared a little richer, but don’t expect much from it, as the track was held back by the limitations of the source. On the other hand, visuals showed stronger clarity along with more dynamic hues and greater overall delineation. The DVD looked good but the Blu-ray looked great.
The Blu-ray includes most of the DVD’s extras and provides some new materials as well. We launch with a Personalized Digital Storybook. This acts as a “Second Screen” experience – a feature I can’t get to work on my Blu-ray player. It might be useful but I can’t provide details from my own observations.
A few new featurettes ensue. The Real Fairy Godmother runs 11 minutes, 50 seconds and offers comments from animation historian Paula Sigman Lowery, Mary Alice O’Connor’s children Joan-Patricia and John O’Connor, animation director Mark Kirkland, retired Walt Disney Company Community Relations VP Tillie J. Baptie, and art director/layout artist Ed Ghertner. The program tells us about Mary Alice O’Connor, wife of Disney artist Ken O’Connor and the real-life inspiration for Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother. This is a pleasant piece but not particularly fascinating, partly because it’s not as closely tied to Cinderella as one might expect.
Hosted by actor Ginnifer Goodwin, Behind the Magic: A New Disney Princess Fantasyland lasts eight minutes, 17 seconds and features Director Project Management Mark Kohl, Senior Concept Designer – Director Chris Beatty, Senior Concept Designer Ted Robledo, Senior Project Manager Tim Warzecha, and Director Creative Development David Minichiello. Here we learn about the major expansion to Disney World’s Fantasyland. As a major WDW fan, I’m happy to see this teaser, but make no mistake: the program’s just a long advertisement.
Next comes the 10-minute, three-second The Magic of the Glass Slipper: A Cinderella Story. It gives us a short film that focuses on shoe designer Christian Louboutin and his design of a glass slipper – or something like that. It attempts a lot of magic but delivers little beyond pointless self-indulgence.
An Alternate Opening Sequence fills one minute, 13 seconds. It mixes storyboards and audio to show an unused scene in which Cinderella discusses why she doesn’t run away from home. It’s nothing much but it’s fun to see.
For something from a different princess, we go to a new animated short called Tangled Ever After. It takes up six minutes, 29 seconds and shows us shenanigans that occur during the wedding of Rapunzel and Flynn. This offers some amusement in its quick running time – and I’m happy to see the original voice actors returned for it.
Two Deleted Scenes come next. We find “The Cinderella Work Song” (three minutes, 18 seconds) and “Dancing on a Cloud” (four minutes, 29 seconds). The domain also includes a 114-second introduction from producer Don Hahn. He gives us some background on the tunes and lets us know a little about them. “Song” presents concept art along with a newly-recorded take of the number, while “Cloud” uses the same visual presentation but offers the original demo version. Neither stands out as particularly compelling, but they’re worth a look.
A demo recording of the “Cinderella” Title Song lasts two minutes, 15 seconds. It sounds more like a dirge than a romantic opening tune. I’m sure a polished take would be stronger, but I can’t say this one seems like a loss. We also find an additional seven Unused Songs. Taken together, they fill 17 minutes, 48 seconds. Again, none of these stand out as very interesting, but it’s fun to screen them.
Three Radio Programs arrive as well. We hear excerpts from “Village Store” (aired 3/25/48, two minutes, 35 seconds) and “Gulf Oil Presents (1950, 5:25) plus “Scouting the Stars (2/23/50, 4:25). “Store” is the most interesting since it comes from the same day Ilene Woods won her role. She gets congratulated and croons “When You Wish Upon a Star”. “Oil” also focuses on Woods. She tells a sugary version of her casting as well as her work on the film. She also performs “A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes”. Finally, “Stars” offers even more of Woods’ tale. All three are enjoyable to hear.
“Backstage Disney” launches with From Rags to Riches: The Making of Cinderella. The 38-minute and 27-second documentary includes archival footage, movie clips, and comments from film historians John Culhane, Christopher Finch, John Canemaker, animators Andreas Deja, Marc Davis, Mark Henn, Ollie Johnston, Ward Kimball, Frank Thomas, Milt Kahl and Glen Keane, composer Richard M. Sherman, film critic Joel Siegel, filmmaker Garry Marshall, voice actors Ilene Woods, Lucille Bliss and Mike Douglas, and University of Alabama Professor of Musicology Dr. Daniel Goldmark.
The program examines the selection of the story, the status of Disney Studios at the time of its production, the animators called the “Nine Old Men” and their work on Cinderella, the use of live-action reference material, the voice cast, and the movie’s score and songs. “Rags” deals with its topics in a somewhat scattershot way. Really, it’s four separate connected featurettes and not one well-integrated documentary. That said, it offers a nice collection of notes. The discussion of the animation is excellent, and I also rather like the look at the actors and the way we see the progression of audio in Disney efforts. There’s a lot of good stuff on display here.
Next we find The Cinderella That Almost Was. This 14-minute and 18-second program recreates notes for production meetings conducted between 1946 and 1948. Hahn introduces and narrates it as we go through a history of the project. We also hear from Culhane, Davis, Johnston, Siegel, Kimball, layout artist Ken O’Connor, and quotes from story meeting transcripts recorded in the Forties. We hear about a mix of elements considered for the film but not used. The featurette provides an entertaining and informative view of different paths the story might have taken.
We learn more about the legendary animators in From Walt’s Table: A Tribute to Disney’s Nine Old Men. Hosted by Joel Siegel, the 22-minute and nine-second show presents remarks from Deja, Keane, Henn, Hahn, producer/director John Musker, director Brad Bird, and producer/director Ron Clements. We also get some archival clips from the Nine Old Men themselves.
The main participants sit together at a round table in a restaurant where Disney and the Men used to lunch. They chat about the Disney films that were early influences and their initial experiences with various Men, facets of their work, and many memories of the Men. We learn how they directly and indirectly impacted the modern animators and get a fine look at the Disney legends. It’s a warm and engaging discussion.
After this comes The Art of Mary Blair. A 14-minute and 58-second featurette, it includes comments from Keane, Henn, Canemaker, Deja, Culhane, Sherman, Disney Animation Research Library director Lella Smith, director Pete Docter, DisneyToon Studios production art director Frederick Cline, art director Michael Giaimo, costume designer Alice Davis, and production designer Lou Romano. We learn about her early life and interest in art, how she ended up at Disney and her work at the studio. The show covers facets of her creations and offers an appreciation for her art. We get a nice look at all that she did for Disney and learn more about how much she influenced various productions and other artists.
A Storyboard to Film Comparison presents elements for the “Opening Sequence”. It runs six-minutes and 49 seconds as the piece presents the art in the top left of the screen and the movie in the bottom right. This becomes a fun way to check out the two stages, especially since it also includes some photos of the live-action reference elements.
For a fun archival feature, we get the 1922 Cinderella Laugh-O-Gram. It goes for seven minutes and 24 seconds. Obviously it presents a much simpler version of the story along with very crude animation. It includes some bizarre scenes like jitterbugging bears and makes a strange choice in that both Cinderella and the Prince look like they’re about 10 years old. It’s fun to see as a historical curiosity, but I doubt you’ll want to watch it twice.
The disc heads into the homestretch with an Excerpt from 1/24/56 Mickey Mouse Club. In this three-minute and 55-second clip, Helene Stanley – the live-action reference for Cinderella – chats with the Mouseketeers and acts out a scene from the flick. She recruits the ‘Teers to play the most annoying mice in the history of the world. This makes for another mildly interesting oddball piece but it’s not anything stunning.
Finally, the disc presents a collection of Trailers. This domain features the original 1950 ad along with reissue promos from 1965, 1973, 1981 and 1987. Note that two trailers accompany the 1987 re-release. The 1950 trailer is a bit of a disappointment, as it’s a very brief teaser, but the others are good to see. I like to watch trailers from over the years as they demonstrate how the art of advertisements changes in various eras.
The disc opens with ads for Peter Pan, Wreck-It Ralph and Secret of the Wings. These also show up under Sneak Peeks along with promos for Sofia the First, Disney Parks, Brave, Finding Nemo, Planes and the Cinderella sequels.
A second disc provides a DVD copy of Cinderella. This delivers a retail product with a few extras.
What did the Blu-ray drop from the 2005 DVD? We lose some games, still galleries, music videos and a clip with Perry Como and others. I don’t mind the omission of the games and videos, but it’s a shame the other elements get the boot.
Cinderella would deserve a special place in animation history simply because it revived the fortunes at Disney. However, it’s more than that, as the flick is still as charming and winning now as it was 62 years ago. The Blu-ray delivers excellent visuals along with adequate audio and a reasonably interesting set of supplements. I wish we got more extensive bonus materials, but I still feel pleased with this nice release.
To rate this film visit the Special Platinum Edition review of CINDERELLA