There's no denying that Snow White and the Seven Drawfs is the first animated feature. A box office hit and a critical darling in 1937, it started an establishment of full length animated features to come. But when Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo, and Bambi were released, there's more at stake going on around the world entering World War II, and as a result, Pinocchio, Bambi, and to the greatest extent Fantasia flopped at the box office, with the exception being Dumbo.
In order to cut costs, Walt Disney created six package features, the first two being a goodwill tour of South America, along with two music-oriented films. The final two package films, Fun and Fancy Free and The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, came from interesting backgrounds as originally separate animated features. And then came Cinderella, Walt Disney's beloved classic is not only a return to full length animated feature, but a return to the classic fairy tale that was previously launched with Snow White. It was a big hit and many people loved it. Because of the success of Cinderella, Walt Disney used the successful profits to fund more live action and animated films, as well as exploring into new territories like television, as well as a little project called Disneyland.
Ever since then, Cinderella has become an iconic film for Disney Animation, for the castle being the symbol of Disney everywhere and for the titular character representing the face of Disney's long famously lucrative Princess franchise, not to mention its 2015 live action remake from director Kenneth Branagh. Now the question remains is what are my thoughts about it?
Everybody remembers the story, so I'll make it short. After the death of her father, Cinderella was forced to a life of servitude by her wicked stepmother Lady Tremaine and evil stepsisters Drizella and Anastasia. Her only friends are animals (mainly mice and birds). Then as a royal decree by the King, a ball is to be held in honor of the Prince and for every eligible maid is to attend in the matter of finding the right wife for the Prince. Cinderella wants to go, as long as she can get all of her insanely amount of chores done first. The mice and bird sewed together a lovely dress out of an old one and other materials for Cinderella to wear for the ball, but alas, it gets thrashed and ruined by her stepsisters.
Just when things are looking bleak, enter the Fairy Godmother who grants Cinderella a new dress complete with glass slippers, and not forgetting a coach from a pumpkin. From then on, Cinderella goes to the ball for a chance to shine and captures the eyes of the Prince who dances with her, and as all fairy tales do, they begin to fall in love. As you know, when the clock is about to struck midnight, Cinderella leaves in a huff leaving behind only a glass slipper, which serves as the only clue to finding the girl.
While I understand the acclaim and appeal of Cinderella and its impact on Disney Animation, but compared to the earlier and later Disney classics, it doesn't have a lot to stand out. Don't get me wrong, it has all the basic elements of the classic Disney fairy tale, but it lacks a kind of special something that makes Disney animated features stand out from the rest. For example, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was the launching pad of animated features, Pinocchio has a fully-fleshed out story and characters to care about, Fantasia offers animation and classical music melding together in innovative ways, Dumbo had a heart and emotion as well as a sense of playful fun, Bambi has offered a look on life and character development without ever needing a plot, and even The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad delivered atmosphere to both stories from The Wind in the Willows' Christmas-like warmth to The Legend of Sleepy Hollow's thrilling Halloween nighttime.
However at the heart of Cinderella is a story about a interesting and likable girl remaining strong, kind, and optimistic in the face of obstacles putting her down, but the plot is paper-thin that the animators have to add in some animal antics, mainly the Tom and Jerryesque confrontation between Jac and Gus and Lucifer, to help extend the time line. This is the same problem I had with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which also had similar issues with pacing. It wants to enhance the plot, but it feels padded out and they don't support the film as it wishes to.
Animation-wise, it feels very lacking. It's not that it's packed with lovely animated moments like Cinderella's magical transformation and her dance with the Prince (who is even more boring than the Prince in Snow White), but by looking back on the previous animated features, it looks and feels plain compared to the lush and multi-level animation of the first five movies.
Based on how I accused Cinderella of not being the best Disney animated feature, do I hate it? I like it, but not a lot, but as far as Disney animated features go, this one feels slight and less remarkable.
Although understandably the most watched and beloved of all Disney animated films, I still feel like Cinderella is one of Disney's weakest animated features ever made. It's lively, enjoyable, and engrossing as movies get, but it doesn't have a kind of spark that makes it stand out from the rest of the Disney animated canon.