I’ve never seen this movie, but I kind of have. When I was a kid, Sunday nights meant The Wonderful World of Disney. Often, that show was just clips from classic Disney movies. So without ever watching the movie beginning to end, I have seen key scenes many times and knew the story beat by beat. Which is why there weren’t too many surprises in Cinderella.
In case this review is ever stumbled across by aliens, I’ll do a quick plot synopsis. But I’m sure even most people who’ve never seen the movie are pretty familiar with its broad strokes. Cinderella is the young daughter of a widower nobleman. Thinking she needs a mother, he marries a local bitch with two bitch daughters. After the untimely death of her father, the true bitch colours of the three broads are revealed and Cinderella spends the next decade or so as their servant.
In the local castle, a king dreams of grandchildren and laments his only son’s lack of desire to settle down. Sick of waiting, he forces marriage on his son by arranging for every girl in the land to attend a ball at which the young prince will choose a bride.
Back at Cinderella’s house, her animal friends help her make a pretty enough dress for the ball and she thinks she might actually get to have a fun night. Seeing that she looks like a bit of alright, her jealous step sisters destroy her dress and Cinderella accepts her fate, crying in the garden.
When her Fairy God Mother arrives, Cinderella is given everything she needs for a night on the tiles. A pumpkin is turned into a beautiful carriage, her mice, horse and dog friends are turned into stallions, a coach driver and footman, and she’s dressed in a gorgeous ball gown, complete with glass slippers. That catch? It will all turn to shit at midnight. And it does.
I know it’s a fairy tale, I know it’s a kids’ movie, I know its escapist fluff, but a couple of things stood out to me, as an adult, seeing Cinderella for the first time. Firstly, what’s with the high mortality rate in this kingdom? Both Cinderella’s parents die young, seemingly of natural causes. And the king’s missus is also dead with no real explanation. Maybe the king should worry less about marrying off his son, and more about the health and living conditions of his subjects.
Secondly, I have to imagine feminists hate this movie. Cinderella is technically the protagonist, but as a little lady, she’s completely powerless. The second she loses her father’s protection, she’s totally helpless. And she remains that way until the prince decides she’s hot enough for him to rescue. Not a real strong message for young girls.
I can’t say I found Cinderella all that great. The animation is nice enough, but the story is just too simple, too sentimental and too obvious in every way. Maybe I needed to have seen it as a kid to have some sort of nostalgic affection, but even then, I can’t imagine my five or six year old self being a fan of a sappy romance either.