Blu-Ray Review: Cinderella

I know this will be considered blasphemy in Disney circles, but I’ve always found Cinderella slightly overrated.  It seems to me that if the exact same film was released at the exact same time from a different company, it wouldn’t have become the classic that it is.  This isn’t to say that I don’t like the movie, it’s just not in the same ballpark as the other Disney “classics.”

However, I understand that I am in the minority.  No matter how simplistic or bland I may find the film, most people hold it in the same regard as Sleeping Beauty, Pinocchio, etc.  This shocks me as the animation feels a little bit more generic, the music slightly more forgettable (with the exception of Bibbidi-Bobbidy-Boo, of course) and the characters slightly more two-dimensional than I’m accustomed to.  That being said, given the film’s extreme popularity, it was a given that Disney would release an exemplary Blu-Ray of the film as part of their “Diamond Edition” collection.

If you’ve never seen one of these sets, they are spectacular.  Not only does Disney always put together a fantastic selection of extras, they clean the films up in such a way that they look practically new.  Every frame is digitally restored to perfection, creating an exquisite image that looks better than any home release to date.  Regardless what you think of the actual film, there is no denying the artistry behind these restoration projects.

Regarding this release specifically, the Diamond Edition includes both the Blu-Ray and a DVD.  While the DVD doesn’t have all of the bonus features, the film still looks perfect.  I always recommend these releases to everybody, even if you don’t have a Blu-Ray player.  That way, there will never be a cause for double-dipping when you are ready to upgrade.

As for the extras, this might not be the most comprehensive set to date, but that doesn’t meant that there isn’t plenty of material worth exploring.  Right off the bat, you can watch the film with an introduction from Diane Disney Miller, Walt’s daughter.  She briefly discusses the film and even shows a clip from Walt’s original attempt at the story with a short animated film from the 1920s.  Personally, I didn’t even know this short existed, and it was a fascinating piece of history to start the presentation with.

For the younger kids, you can also sync the film up with your iPhone, iPad, PC or MAC for an interactive experience called “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-You Interactive Storybook.”  This is an entertaining way to view the film with all sorts of opportunities to interact with the story itself.  Kids can move characters around, pop bubbles, etc.  Honestly, I didn’t spend much time with this myself, but if I were a child I know I would love it.

The extras themselves include a look at the inspiration for my favorite character from the film, the Fairy Godmother.  Mary O’Connor, wife of Disney animator Ken O’Connor, was the key to unlocking the design of this supposedly complicated character.  It seems so obvious in hindsight, but as several pieces of concept art attest, the animators had a great deal of difficulty pinpointing exactly what look they were going for.  This feature is not only a look at her contribution to the character, but also a tribute to her life and the great charity and volunteer work she performed.  It’s a great look at a seemingly wonderful woman.

Other extras include a behind-the-scenes look at the new Fantasyland being built at Walt Disney World, hosted by Once Upon A Time’s Ginnifer Goodwin.  A cynical person might think this is just an extended commercial disguised as a bonus feature; however, I was still really excited to get this sneak peek at what I’m sure is going to be an amazing experience.

Rounding out the extras are an alternate opening sequence pieced together from discovered story sketches, a short film entitled Tangled Ever After, inspired by the film Tangled, all of the original DVD extras (which include deleted scenes, radio programs, etc.) and more.  As somebody fascinated by the history of film, and especially Disney animation, I loved the little pieces of concept art and behind-the-scenes footage provided.  However, it didn’t feel quite as comprehensive as other sets.  Still, the material they did include is fantastic, and while this might not be my favorite of the animated Disney classics, I find this to be a completely worthwhile set that I am happy to add to my collection.

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