Cinderella (1950)

(First-through-fiftieth viewings, Toddler-watching, On Blu-Ray, March 2014) I must have watched Cinderella a few times as a kid, but watching again with my daughter is like seeing a new film… especially when toddler-watching it a few dozen times in a row. As I should know by now, animated Disney movie have amazing power to remain just as enjoyable today as they did upon release a long time ago (a baby born on Cinderella‘s premiere day would be months away from retirement as I write this): the toe-tapping musical numbers, clean direction style, charming animal sidekicks and heart-warming finale have all survived nearly intact and have been re-used in countless other movies since then. Cinderella is one of the classic underdog stories, of course, and this version basically codified Perrault’s fairytale into the sanitized form that most people have now learned. (I have a non-Disney “Cinderella” puzzle book within reach, and despite the adorable anime drawing style, nearly all of the background details are inspired by the Disney version.) The animals remain one of the enduring assets of the film: Cinderella herself barely shows any personality (although I do like the glimpse at her exasperation at hearing the castle bells toll upon waking up) and the antagonists are too caricatured to be taken seriously. (On the other hand, there’s a pretty good gag involving the cat blowing out a candle.) But ask my daughter: we’re really watching for the animals and the musical numbers: “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo” remains the standout sequence of the film, even though “The Work Song” is a solid second, and “Sing, Sweet Nightingale” remains curiously hummable, especially in its horrid version. Otherwise, I still think the film ends too quickly… but that’s often a relief when going through another round of “this is the last time we watch it today, OK? The last time.”

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