The war was over, the country was feeling pretty good about itself and Walt Disney was ready to dive mouse-ears-first back into the full length animated feature business. After experiencing mixed levels of success adapting lesser known tales such as Pinocchio (1940), Dumbo (1941) and Bambi (1942), Disney went back to the ink well using his first and most successful formula – a well-known fairy tale about a girl, her step-mother and a prince. Ergo, with Cinderella, Disney would enjoy his biggest success since the afore-alluded-to Snow White. Perhaps a story driven by the wishes of a young girl and an old man was the perfect kind of feel-good story to resonate with America's re-discovered optimism.
Relegated to a life of indentured servitude and relentless emotional abuse by the hand of her step-mother/sisters, Cinderella still “with each dawn, found new hope that someday her dreams of happiness would come true.” Sure, Cinderella's unbridled optimism is a very attractive quality but her yearning for happiness is decidedly vague and unfocused. She knows she wants something but what is it? I guess when your “heart is grieving” as much as Cinderella's is, it could be any bit of hope that comes along – like getting invited to a royal ball where she could have a dance with the Prince! Then, it was during their inevitable rendezvous that her wishes crystallized... in song - “so this is love... and now I know. So this is the miracle that I've been dreaming of.” As it turns out, Cinderella's dream of happiness she had way back before she even knew there was a ball to go to or a handsome prince to dance with was LOVE! Can dreams and wishes you didn't even know you had retroactively come true? I guess when a “dream is a wish your heart makes,” happiness can be as simple as whatever makes you happy!
On the contrary, the King has a very specific wish. As a lonely old man watching his only child “grow farther, farther and farther away,” he wants nothing more than “to hear the pitter-patter of little feet again.” In fact, it's his wish for grandchildren that literally gets the “ball” rollin' and, in turn, ultimately leads to Cinderella and the Prince's own “Happily Ever After.” The King is the proverbial straw that stirs the drink! And, in tales regarding royal offspring, it's an uncommon thing to have it driven by anything other than a cold and detached power move to establish legacies and/or carry on bloodlines. Sure, both Snow White and Cinderella have their respective Prince Charmings but there is nothing more “charming” than a king, in the twilight of his life, yearning for the simple pleasure of rough-housing with a couple of snot-nosed, ragamuffin grandkids. Forget Prince Bland; all hail King Charming – the true star of Cinderella!
If the King isn't the protagonist of the story, he is definitely the catalyst. Cinderella is sweet, kind to animals and has a lovely singing voice but she's just a dreamy young woman of indeterminate age who was ready to find happiness wherever it presented itself. Since A Waltz Through Disney doesn't recognize straight-to-video, money grab sequels as canon, we'll never know if Cinderella and the Prince were able to conceive or if the King lived long enough to give his grandchildren piggyback rides. But that's where we can take a page from Cinderella's ever-optimistic song book and realize that “if you keep on believing, the dream that you wish for will come true”... maybe, but only if there's a king with the kind of resolve to throw a royal ball on a day's notice that nets his son's “soul” mate (pun INTENDED!) who would then go on to provide the royal vessel for his grandchildren.
On a more whimsical note...
Like Snow White, Cinderella opens with a non-animated, live action storybook.
Brown dresses with baby blue blouses must have been all the rage for chore-doing step-daughters.
Talk about missing the mark. After his wife's death, Cinderella's father remarried with the sole intent of providing her with a mother's care.
With a view of the castle from her tower window, it's hard to say if this implies that Cinderella had allusions of royalty all along or if this imagery was just a literary device.
Speaking of foreshadowing, Cinderella could also hear the gong of the clock from her room and even went so far as to call it a “killjoy.”
The three books that the King swipes at in frustration are untitled works by Homer, Plato and Rabelais.
Cinderella names the fat little mouse found trapped in a cage “Octavius” but shortens it to “Gus” - a nod to Octavius who would then become Caesar Augustus.
Who names a cat “Lucifer”? Shouldn't this have tipped off Cinderella's father to the fact that Lady Tremaine was evil?
Since, in the original tale, the name “Cinderella” was mockingly given to her because of how she would curl up next to the fireplace to stay warm resulting in being covered in cinders, it's curious that Disney didn't at least give her a scene with a fireplace.
When you think of Cinderella, you remember the love story but, with all the scenes involving the games of cat and mouse between Gus, Jaq and Lucifer, the majority of the movie plays like an elongated “Tom & Jerry” cartoon.
The scene where Drizella and Anastasia rip apart Cinderella's dress might be one of the most violent and degrading scenes in any Disney movie. Dare I say, it even feels a bit rape-ish.
All the ever-optimistic Cinderella had to do to get some magic in her life was give up. No sooner than she uttered the words “Nothing left to believe in, nothing,” her Fairy Godmother appeared to pick up the pieces.
For Cinderella's entourage, the Fairy God Mother would turn a pumpkin into the coach, Major the horse into a coachman, Bruno the dog into a doorman and Gus, Jaq and the rest of the mice into horses. This had to leave Major wondering why he just couldn't have stayed a horse.
Did the Fairy Godmother create the midnight deadline to protect against the young lady losing her maidenhood? It's magic's version of a girl not shaving her legs or wearing granny panties before going on a date.
It's a nice nod to Goofy when the Duke bellows his trademark “ya-hooey” scream.
The Prince “loves her, won't rest till he finds her.” Except for the fact that he sends the Duke to actually find her.
Cinderella's foot is less than half the size than that of her step-sisters' and about the same length as the Dukes index finger
Did Lucifer die when falling from the tower window or did he land on his paws... like a cat?
As the lead horse for Cinderella's wedding carriage, Major the horse finally gets to be.... a horse!
Cinderella is commonly marketed and appears as a blonde in a light blue dress but is that even accurate? In the movie, she looks like a strawberry blonde in a silver dress.