Classic Intel: Cinderella - TV Review

'Arguably the first "Disney Princess", an archetype - and later franchise - which the studio continues to develop and expand upon to this day'.

The imminent release of Disney's live-action remake of Cinderella in the first half of 2015 feels like a welcome opportunity to revisit the 1950 original, undeniably one the studio's most important animated features. Disney needed a hit at the time of Cinderella's release, and the financial success of the film at the time allowed Disney to finance many of its productions throughout the 1950s as well as commence the building of the original Disneyland. And, although Snow White came before her, the film's title character is arguably the first "Disney Princess", an archetype - and later franchise - which the studio continues to develop and expand upon to this day.

With hindsight, there's no real surprise that Cinderella was a success, being as it is a musical retelling of a traditional fairytale done in Disney's inimitable, highly polished style. The songs here are true classics, from Cinderella's (Ilene Woods) beautiful introductory number "A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes" to the now infamous magical-spell-cum-nonsense-verse "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo" sung by the Fairy Godmother (Verna Felton). Even the less well remembered tunes, such as "The Work Song" performed by the mice, are undeniably charming.

Cinderella also gets the balance between narrative and entertainment just about spot on. The film continually allows itself to tell the simple but universally known tale of Cinderella's abuse by her stepmother - Lady Tremaine (Eleanor Audley), a classic Disney villainess, heartless and calculating in a manner clearly foreshadowing iconic wicked queens such as Sleeping Beauty's Maleficent without ever slipping into the over-the-top caricature of the likes of Cruella De Vil - and stepsisters. Ample room is also allowed for the more slapstick style of comedy played out by the various animals featured throughout the film, most memorably Lady Tremaine's cat, Lucifer, and the mice Jaq and Gus (both voiced by Jimmy MacDonald).

The biggest problem with Cinderella is its remarkably brief running time. At only seventy five minutes long, there are elements within the film which feel much slighter than you'd like them to be. Outside of Cinderella and Lady Tremaine, very few characters receive much development, with the royal court suffering the most. Prince Charming (William Phipps) is barely seen outside the ball scenes, and even then he's given very little opportunity to become anything more than a generic handsome gentleman, making the love between him and Cinderella feel equally underdeveloped. Even the iconic Fairy Godmother only turns up for a single sequence to sing her song and cast her spells before disappearing as quickly as she arrives, so that the story can continue at its generally rapid pace.

Even considering its transience, there's more than enough of excellence here to warrant Cinderella's status as a Disney animated classic sixty five years after its original release. Whether or not Kenneth Branagh will be able to recreate the pure charm and magical entertainment of this film through his direction of 2015's live action remake remains to be seen, but he certainly has a high bar to aim for in creating a film which can stand side by side with the original.

By Ben Broadribb. Ben is a regular contributor to Film Intel, having previously written at Some Like It Hot Fuzz. He is normally seen in the wild wearing t-shirts containing obscure film references. He is a geek, often unashamedly so. He's also on and Twitter.


  1. When are you going to review Frozen?

    1. Hi Anonymous, here's a link to my review from May last year: Frozen review