Thursday, October 4, 2012

Cinderella on Blu-ray: Evil Moms and Talking Mice

If the mice can talk with Cinderella, why can't the bluebirds? Or the dog? Or the cat?

Are mice multilingual? Do they possess an intellect and social development beyond that of other animals? Do they really like to wear little hats, shirts and shoes?

And where did they learn to sew so well?

These are questions that have puzzled me for years. Seriously, watch Cinderella--available for the first time on Blu-ray this week--and see if you can figure it out. I mean, I get the whole pumpkin coach and glass slipper thing. Bibbidi, bobbidi, boo--that's very simple, really. Fairy Godmother, hello!

The thingamabob that does the job
But...Lucifer the cat can only viciously purr and hiss. Bruno the dog, well, he doesn't do much but chase the cat--when he's not sleeping. Jaq and Gus-Gus, however, have regular conversations with the little cinder girl. Yes, they have speech impediments, but you can still understand them, kind of. What the hell does "zug-zug" mean, anyway?

Rodent evolution aside, Cinderella was Walt Disney's masterful return to fairy tale form following the studio's financial struggles during World War II. It was a make-or-break film that turned out to be a huge financial success. While not as ambitious or elaborately detailed as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Pinocchio, it was still a beautifully animated film (Mary Blair's color styling is exquisite) with likable characters and the meanest bitch of a villain ever to inhabit a Disney film. There's a cruelty to Cinderella's evil stepmother that doesn't exist in other Disney villains who are motivated by greed or vanity. Lady Tremaine mistreats Cinderella and forces her to work as a scullery maid simply because she can--and that makes the stepmother the most evil of all.

Disney packages the Blu-ray release with a number of bonus features previously seen on the 2005 Platinum Edition DVD (in general, the bonus features from this earlier version are far more extensive and satisfying). Best among the new material is "The Real Fairy Godmother," a profile of the inspiration for Cinderella's Fairy Godmother, Mary Alice O'Connor. The wife of long-time Disney layout artist Ken O'Connor, Mary Alice was a passionate champion of charity work and community service programs. She eventually became known as the "Fairy Godmother of Burbank." "The Real Fairy Godmother" is a touching tribute to a woman who devoted her life to helping others with more than just a wave of a magic wand.

Disney has excelled at bringing it's classic animation library to Blu-ray, even when they've been skimpy with the bonus features. Still, if you're a completist adding to your Disney Blu-ray collection, Cinderella is a no-brainer addition. It looks and sounds beautiful.

Now, if they could just explain about those talking mice...

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