Cinderella is widely known as one of the most famous fairy tales of all-time and the 1950 Disney animated version is usually considered to be the most classic of all the numerous adaptations that have been made. Due to that, there have been an umpteenth amount of releases of this film on nearly every format imaginable from the usual DVD and VHS releases to less common formats like Laser Disc and Beta. Surprisingly, this is only the second time the film has been released on Blu-ray (in America at least) and it has been in the Disney Vault since early 2017. This time, Cinderella is being released as part of the Walt Disney Signature Collection. While only two of the bonus features included on this release are completely new, this release comes loaded with extras and is the first time Cinderella has been available on Blu-ray in about two and a half years.
You probably all know the tale of Cinderella already. Maybe 10-20% of the English-speaking world hasn’t seen at least one of the many adaptations of this classic fairy tale. Most of you have seen this version numerous times so I won’t be spending too much time on the film’s story or quality, as you probably care more about the video quality and bonus features included on this release. Still, a brief synopsis and review of the film will be provided in the next two paragraphs.
Dating back to 1634 (with some elements of the story appearing between 7 BC and 23 AD), Cinderella is the story of young woman who lost both her parents when she was young and was forced to work in her own home as a maid to her stepmother (Lady Tremaine) and stepsisters. All of these women are cruel to her, forcing her to do their cooking, cleaning, sewing, and just about everything else they need done. Her only friends are the local animals, especially the mice and birds that live around her property. Cinderella is also constantly dreaming of a better life and often sings about it. Meanwhile, the King of the area wants his Prince to settle down, get married, and give him some grandchildren. He has the Grand Duke organize a ball to find his son a suitable marriage partner and invites all of the eligible maidens in the area. Cinderella and her stepsisters are invited but Lady Tremaine does her best to sabotage Cinderella’s efforts to attend. Will she make it to the ball in time and will she get the life of her dreams?
Before I received Cinderella: Walt Disney Signature Collection for review, it had been so long since I watched this movie that I thought there were three wicked stepsisters and had no idea how long it took for this film to even get to the ball (over halfway through the movie). It must have been at least 15-20 years since I’ve seen the film. Upon finally re-watching the film, I declare it to be a good but not great Disney animated film that was amazing for its time but can’t really hold up to today’s Disney films. The highlight of the film is easily all of the scenes featuring Gus and the other rats. Almost all of the humor comes from them but unfortunately, after the first half of the movie the film shifts to the ball and the somewhat boring romance between Cinderella and Prince Charming. Other highlights include the two classic songs the film is known for (“A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes” and “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo”) and the mostly beautiful art and animation in the movie. However, some of the animation wasn’t yet perfected at this time and there are a few things that look a little off (like Cinderella’s awkward looking running animation and the much less detailed backgrounds than future Disney animated films would have).
As most of you have already seen this film numerous times, that’s all I’m going to write about the film itself. Most of you already know whether or not you love this film and are here for video quality and/or bonus features reasons only. I’ll start with the two new additions to the roster of special features: “Try This Trivia on for Size” and “In Walt’s Words: Enhanced Edition.” The trivia feature is about a five-minute extra hosted by two young Disney Channel stars that focuses on fun facts, trivia, and things you might have missed about the movie. Most of the things presented in this feature are pretty well-known by Disney fans though and this extra is more annoying than anything. The bigger and much more important new addition is “In Walt’s Words,” which runs the entire length of the film and is a “dramatic recreation” of the meetings Walt Disney and the filmmakers did to “find the story” of Cinderella. It’s almost a sort of historical audio commentary with the addition of photographs, concept art, readings of the animators’ notes and other text documents, and so on to make it even more in-depth and interesting. If you’ve read a lot of my Blu-ray and DVD reviews, you likely know that I’m not a fan of audio commentaries and rarely watch them. “In Walt’s Words” is actually quite interesting and one of the most informative ones I’ve watched. It’s especially interesting to hear Walt’s thoughts and insights into the production of the film and this is easily the best of the two new extras included in this release.
The rest of the extras included in this release are carryovers from other home video releases of Cinderella (many of them date back to the DVD release and are in standard-definition while a few are presented in HD). They include:
- Diane Disney Miller Cinderella film introduction (1:16)-A very brief introduction by Walt Disney’s daughter which mostly just shows off parts of the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco and some of the Cinderella items in its collection.
- From Rags to Riches: The Making of Cinderella (38:27)-A lengthy featurette first made for the 2005 DVD release covering the making of the film. Even though this is in standard-definition, it is still an absolute must-watch for all Cinderella and Disney fans.
- The Cinderella That Almost Was (12:34)-Another meaty featurette about what Cinderella could have looked like if different choices were made. It includes looks at the treatments, storyboards, and other materials in the Disney vault. Another very interesting watch for those curious about the history of this film.
- The Magic of the Glass Slipper: A Cinderella Story (10:03)-A short film with both live-action and animated elements produced for the first Blu-ray release (and thus is actually in HD) about a real-life French shoe designer named Christian Louboutin. It’s fine but nothing special or anything you absolutely need to watch.
- The Real Fairy Godmother (11:50)-A featurette produced for the Diamond Edition release that is unsurprisingly about the Fairy Godmother character and the person she was based on (Mary Alice O’Connor, the wife of a Disney animator).
- Alternate Opening Sequence (1:13)-Through rough sketches and a voice actress reading the lines, a possible alternate opening sequence is brought to life.
- Storyboard to Film Comparison: Opening Sequence (6:49)-A comparison of the storyboards (the Cinderella portions are actually acted out in live action by an actress) to the final product.
- Cinderella Title Song (2:15)-The original demo recording of the main theme song.
- From Walt’s Table: A Tribute to the Nine Old Men (22:09)-A tribute to the legendary animators that helped build the Disney animated dynasty, this includes a round-table discussion with other industry vets (including Brad Bird) many of whom were mentored by one or more of the Nine Old Men. This doesn’t have that much to do with Cinderella but it is a very interesting discussion about animation and some of the legends of the art form.
- The Art of Mary Blair (14:58)-Another older featurette from the DVD release, this time about Mary Blair, an artist on many Disney classics. This is also more of a general all-around featurette rather than one about Cinderella but Disney history buffs will like all of these.
- Behind the Magic: A New Disney Princess Fantasyland (8:17)-An HD look at the renovation of Disney World’s Fantasyland hosted by Once Upon a Time‘s Ginnifer Goodwin. As a Disney theme park buff, this is actually one of the most interesting featurettes in this set for me. Unfortunately it was shot in the early days of construction so you don’t really get to see too much of the land outside of the concept art though.
- Cinderella, the Original 1922 Laugh-O-Grams version (7:24)-The 1950 animated film wasn’t the first time Walt Disney adapted Cinderella, he also did it in a much-shorter format back in 1922 for his Laugh-O-Grams series. The entire short film is included here and boy is it weird.
- Excerpt from The Mickey Mouse Club (January 24, 1956) (3:55)-This extra features the actress who played Cinderella for the storyboarding (Helene Stanley) performing a brief scene from the film for a group of Mouseketeers.
- Radio Programs from the ’40s and ’50s
- Theatrical trailers
Unfortunately, several bonus features from prior DVD and Blu-ray releases fail to make an appearance on this release. While most of these are pretty unimportant extras, there are a few disappointing subtractions; most notably the lack of the deleted scenes and unused songs. Most of the other features that have been ditched have nothing to do with Cinderella in the first place. Still, if you decide to upgrade your copy you might need to keep your older version as well if you care about those deleted extras.
Nothing is said about a new transfer or any remastering so I’m going to assume that the video and audio quality on Cinderella: Walt Disney Signature Collection is more or less the same as the previous Diamond Edition release (I only owned the DVD version before I got this copy for review so I can’t confirm this assumption). However, outside of the fact that it isn’t in widescreen (due to it being animated instead of filmed) the film looks more or less perfect on Blu-ray. Colors are sharp, all of the film grain is gone, and there are no real issues to report on whatsoever. This release is one of Disney’s “multi-screen edition” releases, meaning both a DVD and digital copy are included as well so you can watch the film anywhere.
Cinderella is obviously a classic but at least in my opinion, it doesn’t have the amazing storytelling or great animation that today’s films have (especially today’s Disney and Pixar movies). It’s still a very good film and was clearly great for its time, but I think rating wise it is more of a 4/5 type of film than a masterpiece at this point (though the great video quality and extras warrant a bump to a 4.5/5). For those who already know they love the film, the decision on whether or not to purchase mostly comes down to whether or not you already own the prior Blu-ray release. Outside of the pretty great (and lengthy) “In Walt’s Words” feature, almost everything here is the same as the Diamond Edition so if you already own that release you might not need to upgrade. It is a nice addition but I’m not sure if it is worth upgrading for just two new bonus features, only one of which is a substantial addition. If you don’t own the prior Blu-ray release, it is absolutely worth upgrading your DVD to this release though. The video quality is excellent (just like the Diamond Edition) and there are plenty of great extras to watch. Highly recommended for those who don’t already own the film on Blu-ray.
Cinderella: Walt Disney Signature Collection was released on Blu-ray + DVD + Digital on June 25, 2019.
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We would like to thank Walt Disney Pictures for the review copy of Cinderella: Walt Disney Signature Collection used for this review. Other than receiving the review copy we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation. Receiving the review copy had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.