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Originally released in 1950, Walt Disney’s Cinderella is now available on a two-disc DVD set with a restored and enhanced version that is pretty to look at. While the light-as-a-feather story may not appeal to adults, children should enjoy it. Many of the special features on the DVD are self-congratulatory and promotional, while others delve into Disney’s vaults to give an interesting look at how the company made its feature-length films.

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo

Picture and sound have been restored for this DVD
Picture and sound have been restored for this DVD

The filmmakers must have realized that most viewers would be familiar with the story of Cinderella, because the movie dispenses with character and plot development. All of the human characters are archetypes: Cinderella is pretty and kind, her stepmother and stepsisters are ugly and mean, the prince is given little to do but look handsome.

The animators are so good at this storytelling shorthand that there isn’t much story to tell. Instead, they bring in the mice. The mice in Cinderella’s house wear little peasant outfits and talk in high-pitch speeded-up voices. They and their bird friends help out Cinderella in her time of need. There are some lengthy sequences in which they bedevil the stepmother’s malicious cat, Lucifer. Their antics are as amusing as a Tom & Jerry short, but they do little to advance the plot until the end.

Even at only 74 minutes, the mouse subplot makes the movie feels padded. Young viewers probably won’t mind, of course. Adults may find that Cinderella makes for an enjoyable, inoffensive electronic babysitter.

DVD Extras

The most bizarre of the special features is on disc one. “Cinderella Stories,” hosted by Joe Namath, tells come-from-behind stories from the world of sports, such as Lance Armstrong and the 1980 US Olympic hockey team. It’s a clever idea for an extra feature, but it isn’t presented very well. Most of the segments have talking heads and still images with very little actual footage. The segment on Namath’s own 1969 Super Bowl champion New York Jets has no footage at all of the big game.

Amid the congratulatory features on disc two are some interesting tidbits that focus on lesser-known aspects of Disney studios and Cinderella. “The Cinderella That Almost Was” has notes from story meetings and concept art that shows ideas that were considered and discarded. A 1922 “Laugh-O-Gram” cartoon done by Disney in his Kansas City days features a flapper version of Cinderella. “The Art of Mary Blair,” is about the woman who did much of the early concept art for Cinderella and other Disney features and shorts. Her flat, modern style contrasted sharply with the more rounded look of Disney’s animated films of the time, but Blair’s designs and use of color did influence Disney’s animators.

Picture and Sound

Both picture and sound have been restored for this DVD release and meet Disney’s usual high standards. The original soundtrack is presented in Disney’s Enhanced Home Theater Mix.