Cinderella is, perhaps, Disney’s most enduring animated feature. Though Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs predates it in terms of princess movies, Cinderella has had an even more lasting effect on children around the world. So, this 1950 film finally being released on Blu-ray is cause for celebration simply because of its event-like status. By itself, Disney’s so-called Diamond Edition of Cinderella on Blu-ray is an excellent upgrade from the two-disc DVD, a sparkling transfer from old to new. If, however, you’re hoping for an extremely in-depth look at the film unlike what you may have seen or known in the past, you may be let down a bit.
The colors and designs of Cinderella are heightened and made more stunning in this high-definition transfer. In particular, the size and scope of the two main settings, the mansion where Cinderella toils as the chief servant to her evil stepmother, Lady Tremaine, and her selfish stepsisters, Anastasia and Drizella; as well as the palace where Cinderella has her love-at-first-sight dance with her true love, Prince Charming, are emphasized impressively. The scenes, for example, where Cinderella makes her way through the palace and then sings “So This Is Love” with Prince Charming, are jaw-dropping. The level of animation depth and talent is monumental in these sequences, as in the rest of the film. If you haven’t seen Cinderella in a few years, you may be surprised at how swiftly it moves, at how funny it can be, and at how beautiful it looks. Though Sleeping Beauty would, in 1959, provide an artier version of a similar story, Cinderella isn’t without ample charms.
Regarding the Diamond Edition Blu-ray’s special features, it’s important to applaud Disney for porting over those features that originally appeared on the two-disc DVD. As such, there are tons of special features here, from deleted musical numbers to a roundtable with present-day animators discussing the film’s impact. However, as much as it’s worth praising Disney for including these features, there are only a few features specific to the Blu-ray. Each has their own allure, depending on the kind of person you are.
Animation buffs will be fascinated by the alternative opening, unearthed thanks to work from the folks at the Walt Disney Archives; children will love the Tangled Ever After short, released for the first time on Blu-ray; and everyone may be intrigued by the “Real Fairy Godmother,” profiling the wife of Disney art director Ken O’Connor, thought to be the true inspiration for Cinderella’s fairy godmother. (Another Blu-ray-specific feature, called “The Magic of the Glass Slipper,” is basically watching shoe designer Christian Louboutin look for inspiration in designing real-life glass slippers in conjunction with this release, with a strange mix of animation and live-action. It’s well-made, but you have to wonder who the audience for it really is.) However, these—and an eight-minute glorified ad for Walt Disney World’s coming Fantasyland expansion, hosted by Once Upon A Time’s Ginnifer Goodwin—are it. No commentaries, no serious retrospectives, and so on. If you already have the DVD, the most serious reason to get this upgrade will be the film itself, not its supplements.
Again, the DVD features are far more engrossing for any amateur Disney historians, animation buffs, and the curious. From deleted musical scenes, many of which would be utilized in slightly different form in films like Sleeping Beauty and Beauty and the Beast, to old radio programs, these supplements have the love, dedication, and care that the Blu-ray features ought to be filled with. (One detriment: as the DVD features weren’t formatted for HD, they’ll either stretch on your HDTV or black bars will appear on the left and right side of your screen.) If, however, you don’t have the DVD, these features will make up for the Blu-ray’s lack of new material despite not being in HD.
Frankly, most people don’t need to be convinced one way or the other on buying Cinderella on Blu-ray. Most of you probably already know whether you want it or not—if you own other classic Disney films like Snow White, Fantasia, Bambi, and Dumbo on Blu-ray, you won’t be surprised to learn that this 1950 animated feature’s transfer is similarly excellent. Disney is rightfully well-regarded for their transfers of old films to the new format. But if you’re hoping for a reevaluation of the film via detailed special features that you’ve never seen before, either pray you’ve never seen the DVD features or you’ll be left disappointed. Still, this classic is worth a buy in HD just to see how glorious Cinderella’s night at the ball can truly look.
— Josh Spiegel