Genre: Animation, Fantasy, Musical
SOME SPOILERS MAY APPLY!
Conflict Man/Woman vs Society, Woman vs Woman
Overview: A lowly house servant of her wicked Stepmother is allowed one enchanted evening that could forever change her life
What I Like About the Film:
Cinderella is not my favorite Disney movie, but as a young boy, I don’t think it was targeted for me. (Though, I think it‘s completely fine if you‘re a boy and love this movie.)
Cinderella has excellent animation for its time, and minus the stupid animal songs, a beautiful musical score. These things alone should keep it relevant in film history.
Again, Disney has taken a familiar fairytale character and rebuilt it in their image. Of course, the Disney versions of Prince Charming, Cinderella, and the Fairy Godmother are the standard by which most other films and stories appeal to now.
What I Dislike and Some Analysis
I know it is made for children, but the talking animals bit used as comic relief really irritates me. (So, some of the animals can talk, but not all of them?) At least in Bambi, all the animals could talk.
I’ve also called out Cinderella for being a terrible role model for young women. Though I think that is a bit harsh and I’ve reconsidered some of this. The fact is that Cinderella is a hardworking, gentle, and beautiful soul with a lovely singing voice, but she is stuck in a terrible situation with her wicked stepmother and stepsisters.
Since the stepmother controls the financial and living situation, it’s not as though Cinderella can go to the courts and demand better treatment and be broken free of this cruel enslavement by her family. Her father is dead, her only support are animals for the forest. What would she say to the authorities? “Talk to the mice and the birds. They will set me free.” She could wind up in a terrible mental institution or prison. She could genuinely rebel but likely would wind up homeless. Oh, she could poison/murder all of them, but that would certainly alter the “if the shoe fits” premise, wouldn’t it? I suppose she could even commit suicide, but that’s just horrific.
She is a 19-year-old woman who according to this society really should be focusing on a man and having children. She has next to no power in this world and the only options appear to be institutionalized, imprisonment, homicidal rage, suicide, or hopeless enslavement. She doesn’t any good options, and I suppose this is the best she can get for the time being.
So she gets the luck of having this wonderful character, the Fairy Godmother to come to her rescue and give her one enchanted evening. Everything about her is stunning and she impresses Prince Charming. So much so that he wants to marry her, but as luck will have it. Things will literrally fall apart at Midnight and she flees.
Now one could argue, she could have stayed and shared her story with the prince and his high-society friends. However, she would have been seen transforming from this magnificent belle of the ball to a common house servant in mere seconds. She would have likely murdered or imprisoned for being a witch at worst. At best, she is seen as nothing more than a servant who is out of line and has no business having any affiliation with the prince.
The best chance Cinderella had was to flee. She had that moment, she planted the seeds that may or may not break her from that accursed living situation, but she had to go.
Cinderella follows an archaic storyline, and I think you don’t have to praise Cinderella for her actions. However, it is the society which should be vilified most in this situation. She was stuck in a bad place, and the only hope she had was someone rich and powerful coming to rescue her. The animation is beautiful, the songs equisite, and the characters memorable. Cinderella is affable enough that I’d let my child watch it.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)