Walt Disney’s Cinderella played an important role in the history of the company, restoring it to a profitable studio after the financial losses from World War II. Without it, The Walt Disney Company might not be around today, let alone be the entertainment giant that it’s become in the past decade. It was recently selected by the Library of Congress for the National Film Registry, deeming it “Culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” And in celebration of its almost 70th anniversary, it returns from the Disney Vault as part of the Walt Disney Signature Collection, arriving on Digital HD on June 18th and on a Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital Multi-Screen Edition on June 26th.
Walt Disney’s adaptation of one of the oldest fairy tales in existence is still the most famous version of the story. Despite being adapted in the years that followed by the likes of Rodgers & Hammerstein, the Sherman Brothers, Leslie Caron, Jerry Lewis, Shelley Duvall, Drew Barrymore, Hilary Duff, and even Disney through live action adaptations (in 1997 and 2015), no filmed project has yet to dethrone the animated classic as the most recognizable version of the story. The inclusion of Cinderella as the focal point of several Magic Kingdom-style theme parks around the world has helped further connect the film and character to our subconscious association with Disney and the feelings that go along with it.
“A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes” is one of a handful of songs that Disney routinely uses as a sort of company anthem. The only other songs that have been used on an equal or greater level are “When You Wish Upon a Star” from Pinocchio, “Be Our Guest” from Beauty and the Beast, and “A Whole New World” from Aladdin. On top of that, the other songs in the film are memorable and iconic, with “The Work Song” introducing the Chipmunks sound years before Alvin wanted a hula hoop, and “So This is Love” is still one of the quintessential Disney love songs.
The Walt Disney Signature Collection release features just two new bonus features, one of which is a feature-length picture-in-picture story meeting commentary. The restoration and transfer is identical to the previous Diamond Edition, which many fans take issue with due to colors that feel oversaturated and the loss of some line art in select scenes. Coincidentally, the picture-in-picture feature includes a side-by-side of the transformation sequence with the original pencil animation against the current restoration, which reveals how much of the magic dust went missing during the 2005 restoration process from the Diamond Edition, which is still in use today. The supporting concept art in the same feature shows that in most cases, the color palette was intended to be more subdued than the current version. However, there are some concept art pieces where the colors are as bold and vibrant as this release depicts. But my take has always been that while the colors might not be accurate to 1950, they don’t detract from the enjoyment of the film. It’s still captivating and charming as it ever was.
This review covers all of the on-disc content in this release, as well as the digital exclusives. Fans only interested in the digital release can get it a week early on June 18th, while the physical release combo pack will hit shelves on June 26th, including exclusive packaging from Target and Best Buy.
- In Walt’s Words: The Envisioning of Cinderella (1:24:25) – Transcripts from story meetings with Walt Disney and his story team are brought to live through voice actors in this feature-length visual commentary that includes concept art, storyboards, pencil animation, behind the scenes photos, and script excerpts stylistically juxtaposed against the film as it plays. It includes many legends of Disney Animation, including Ward Kimball, Milt Kahl, and Ham Luske.
- Try This Trivia on for Size (4:48) – Stars of the Disney Channel series Sydney to the Max Ruth Righi and Ava Kolker reveal some fun facts about the film in an upbeat kid friendly style.
- Diane Disney Miller Introduction (1:16) – Filmed for the Diamond Edition from the Walt Disney Family Museum, Walt Disney’s daughter introduces the film and promotes her San Francisco museum.
- From Rags to Riches: The Making of Cinderella (38:27) – This Platinum Edition documentary features Disney Historians, luminaries, and archival animator interviews discussing the making of the film and its historical significance in the Disney story. The film clips in this documentary predate the controversial 2005 restoration and feature colors that are move familiar to fans who grew up with the film in the 20th century.
- The Cinderella That Almost Was (12:34) – Don Hahn reveals some storyboards and production artwork from previous attempts Disney made to adapt this story to animation.
- The Magic of the Glass Slipper: A Cinderella Story (10:03) – Christian Loubeton creates his take on glass slippers in this short film that includes animated mice helping him find inspiration.
- The Real Fairy Godmother (11:50) – Art Director Ken O’Connor based the Fairy Godmother on his wife, Mary Alice O’Connor, who was recognized throughout her community for her volunteer work and helpful spirit.
- Alternate Opening Sequence (1:13) – Storyboards for a different way the film could’ve opened.
- Storyboard to Film Comparison: Opening Sequence (6:49) – A laserdisc bonus feature that shows how the storyboards inspired the final film and also reveals a few intended differences for the “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes” sequence.
- Cinderella Title Song (2:15) – A demo recording of the film’s title song.
- From Walt’s Table: A Tribute to the Nine Old Men (22:09) – Joel Siegel hosts this Platinum Edition bonus feature about Walt Disney’s legendary team of mentor animators through a roundtable at the Tam O’Shanter restaurant with animators and directors who were mentored by them.
- The Art of Mary Blair (14:58) – Walt Disney’s favorite artist is explored in this short feature that leads into her work on Cinderella.
- Behind the Magic: A New Disney Princess Fantasyland (8:17) – Ginnifer Goodwyn hosts a tour of the “upcoming” New Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom park at Walt Disney World, a promotional piece that was more relevant in 2012 on the Diamond Edition release and one that has little to do with Cinderella.
- 1922 Laugh-O-Grams: Cinderella (7:24) – Walt Disney’s first version of Cinderella was made in Kansas City and was set in the 1920’s as a modern fairytale.
- Excerpt from The Mickey Mouse Club with Helen Stanley (3:55) – The live action reference model for Cinderella meets the Mouseketeers and recreates “The Work Song” sequence.
- Radio Programs
- Village Store Excerpt (2:35) – Ilene Woods promotes the upcoming film with a radio appearance shortly after being cast in 1948 by singing “When You Wish Upon a Star.”
- Gulf Oil Presents (5:25) – Ilene Woods recounts her casting process for Cinderella in a 1950 radio interview.
- Scouting the Stars (4:25) – Another promotional visit by Ilene Woods
- Theatrical Trailers
- 1950 Original Release Trailer (0:24)
- 1965 Reissue Trailer (2:21)
- 1973 Reissue Trailer (1:26)
- 1981 Reissue Trailer (1:32)
- 1987 Reissue Trailer #1 (1:57)
- 1987 Reissue Trailer #2 (1:25)
- The Art of Cinderella – Seven themed galleries full of still images available individually or in slideshow mode.
- Concept Art – 30 images
- Character Model Sheets – 10 images
- Story Sketches – 20 images
- Live-Action Reference – 10 images
- Pencil Animation – 10 images
- Behind-the-Scenes – 10 images
- Feature Stills – 20 images
- The Songs of Cinderella – Jump straight to the songs in the film.
- “Cinderella” (1:21)
- “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes” (1:08)
- “Oh, Sing Sweet Nightingale” (1:34)
- “The Work Song” (1:39)
- “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo” (0:45)
- “So This is Love” (1:29)
The following bonus features from previously releases were left off this time around. Most of them weren’t extremely relevant to the film, but some are troubling omissions, such as deleted scenes and demo recordings.
- Platinum Edition
- Disney Channel Circle of Stars Music Video of “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes” (3:45)
- The Making of the Music Video (3:19)
- “Every Girl Can Be a Princess” Music Video (2:23)
- Cinderella Stories Presented by ESPN Classic (34:00)
- Deleted Scene – “The Cinderella Work Song” (3:20)
- Deleted Scene – “Dancing on a Cloud” (4:35)
- Cinderella and Perry Como TV Excerpt (6:45)
- Unused Song Demos (17:20)
- House of Royalty Game (17:17)
- Princess Pajama Jam (2:00)
- Still Frame Gallery with 400 images
- Diamond Edition
- Personalized Digital Storybook: Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo Second Screen Experience
- Tangled Ever After (6:29)
The Diamond Edition’s transfer is repeated here in this Walt Disney Signature Collection release without any changes or improvements. You can choose between the standard pillarbox viewing mode, or Disney View to fill the black sides with themed artwork. This particular restoration is known for having oversaturated colors and missing animation lines when compared to a standard definition laserdisc transfer from the 1990’s. Any dreams for a new restoration more faithful to the 1950 release will have to wait for another wish your heart makes.
The primary audio mix is a 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. Score fills the rear channels, but dialogue and sound effects remain in the center channel, striking a nice balance between the original mono release and a home surround sound system. Other audio options include the original mono mix, plus French and Spanish 5.1 surround tracks.
Packaging & Design
Cinderella comes in a standard sized Blu-Ray case with disc holders on both sides of the interior for the Blu-Ray and DVD disc. Fans were quick to point out that the glass slippers used in the artwork replace the heart in the center with a bow for some reason. The embossed slipcover features holographic accents to create a dazzling effect. Inserts include a code to redeem your digital copy through Movies Anywhere (also redeemable for points through Disney Movie Rewards) and a flier for Disney Movie Club.
The main menu features scenes from the film set inside the glass slipper, which has a square tongue instead of the film accurate heart. The disc opens with ads for Toy Story 4, The Little Mermaid Walt Disney Signature Collection, and an anti-smoking PSA starring Cruella DeVil.
Cinderella ushered in a second golden age of Disney animation and deserves its place in the National Film Registry, as well as a title in the Walt Disney Signature Collection. The inclusion of a new feature-length In Walt’s Words picture-in-picture commentary is a nice touch, but the lack of care with the restoration and transfer is bound to leave diehard fans feeling bitter towards this release.
Alex has been blogging about Disney films since 2009 after a lifetime of fandom. He joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and covers films across all of Disney’s brands, including Star Wars, Marvel, and Fox, in addition to books, music, toys, consumer products, and food. You can hear his voice as a member of the Laughing Place Podcast and his face can be seen on Laughing Place’s YouTube channel where he unboxes stuff.