Continuing the Disney Princess Retrospective, let’s move on to every little girl’s dream come true: Cinderella from Cinderella (1950)
We know the classic fairy tale of Cinderella and we’re familiar with our protagonist. Cinderella’s a young woman who’s forced to become a servant by her bitter stepmother, Lady Tremaine, and her spoiled stepsisters. Although she’s treated so cruelly, she tries to remain optimistic and kind. She dreams that someday her wishes of happiness would come true. One day, every bachelorette is invited to go to a royal ball for the Prince, and although she’s too busy cleaning to prepare her ball gown, her mice and bird friends help her out and fix up her gown. Unfortunately her stepmother allows her sisters to destroy her dress. Losing her only chance to go to the ball, and her one night of happiness, she loses all hope… and that’s when her Fairy Godmother comes in. The Fairy Godmother gives her a pumpkin carriage and a beautiful ball gown for her to go to the ball. There the Prince notices Cinderella and love sparks between them. However, because the magic only lasts till twelve o’clock, she runs back before the Prince can find out her name. All she leaves behind is her glass slipper, and the Prince attempts to look for the girl who fits the slipper.
Cinderella’s voiced by Ilene Woods (who I believe has such a warm and beautiful voice) who was made a Disney Legend in 2003. Henry Stanley was the live action model for Cinderella AND later Aurora.
Here we have a very similar story and character to Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, like having a woman being jealous of a young woman’s charm and beauty, although it takes its approaches differently. Again we have the criticism that the female character does nothing in the story, and again I’m defending her. HOWEVER, I personally think Cinderella is a much better character than Snow White. Cinderella was updated on her backstory and motivation compared to Snow White. Snow White just so happened to be virtuous, while with Cinderella we can sort of understand why she’s the way she is. We know that the father was “a kind and devoted father” (as narrated in the film), so it’s probably him who influenced her to be virtuous and kind, unlike her stepsisters who were raised the wrong way by their mother. And ever since the father’s death, Cinderella’s been treated horribly. In my perspective, Cinderella wants to return to the happiness she had when she was younger, which is why she’s a bit of a day-dreamer. Her struggle comes from the battle of what she dreams of and the circumstances that try to work against that dream. I ended up caring for what happens to Cinderella, not just because I feel pity for her, but because she’s a genuine character with an interesting mentality. Cinderella’s motto both in the film and in the original fairy tale is to stay virtuous and kind, and soon she’ll be rewarded in life. Like Snow White, Cinderella’s kindness is the reason why she has animal friends. The circumstances may have prevented her from having friends as a child, but Cinderella found a different way to have friends. Thankfully, these animal friends were able to support her during the roughest times, and in the end help her fix up her ball gown. So again, kindness was a HUGE strength for this character. Something else that set her apart from Snow White, aside from her determination, is her incredible patience. Her stepmother and stepsisters humiliated her, abused her, and treated her like she was worthless in her own freaking house. I don’t think I’d be able to handle it; I wouldn’t bear to be in such a place. But amazingly, Cinderella doesn’t allow these things to get the better out of her. Cinderella works at her hardest, and tries to look at things in a different light. Like when she’s cleaning the floor of the front hall, she changes her work into something pleasant by singing a tune.
One particular scene says everything about her mentality. The dog and cat relationship in the film kinda parallels to Cinderella’s relationship with her stepfamily. Even when that darn cat Lucifer is being nasty to the dog Bruno, Cinderella tells Bruno not to chase the cat and says that one way of doing so is this: “Learn to like cats. No, I mean it. Lucifer has his good points too. For one thing he… well, sometimes he… hmm… there must be something good about him”. She knows that this cat is a bastard, and easily does acknowledge that once in a while, yet she tries to think of him differently. If she were whining and complaining all the time, that wouldn’t solve her problems at all. And if she kept a negative outlook, it’d be MUCH easier for her to give up and lose hope. She knows that if she fought back now, she’d be kicked out of her own house in an instant. Cinderella may be a dreamer, but this fact alone tells us that she is realistic to some extent. So that’s an attribute I truly admire from Cinderella: her attitude and outlook. She’ll do what she can to make her dreams possible and her hope intact, but in order to do so, she has to be optimistic. Believe me when I say that changing your outlook on life and attitude with yourself will make a difference. I know this for a fact in my own experience, so I BEG you to take this seriously. I am emphasising what I’m about to say:
This is why more optimistic people consider themselves lucky: their positive attitudes leads them to achieve more, because they believe so much that something good will happen. This is why we watch movies and other entertainment, especially things like comedy and fantasy: to remind ourselves of the more wonderful and lighter aspects of life. I may not truly understand people who suffer from depression, but I at least know that they tend to see the worst in life and/or have a low self-esteem. This is what often causes them to be more sensitive to harsh words and have more trouble moving forward, unlike an optimist who’d let these things pass by and would have less trouble with things like these. Cinderella might not be lucky, but just having positivity might be enough to keep you standing even in a hopeless situation.
Back to Cinderella, it’s only later in the story that her stepsisters physically destroy her chance of going to the ball that she finally breaks down. Her Fairy Godmother then needs to come in to help her at her lowest point. It’s only until she gave up that her Fairy Godmother came in the picture. Whether the stepsisters didn’t destroy her dress and her Fairy Godmother hadn’t come, Cinderella truly earned that night at the ball.
Disney himself has stated that Cinderella was his favourite fairy tale, because he could relate to her: he worked his hardest until he was rewarded in life. You see? Cinderella CAN be an inspiration and role model even to the most successful people!
Now here’s when I call bulls**t, because then there’s that criticism about Cinderella waiting for a prince to come. To those people: THAT IS SO NOT TRUE! I mentioned this before, and I’ll mention it again: Cinderella was NOT waiting for a prince to come and rescue her. Did you fall asleep at the beginning of the film? The narrator says that through all the horrible things that happened to Cinderella, “Cinderella remained ever gentle and kind. For with each dawn, she found new hope that some day her dreams of happiness would soon come true.” EXACTLY! She never mentions wanting a prince at the beginning. When the opportunity to meet the Prince comes to her doorstep, she’s more interested in the chance to experience at least one night happiness that she hasn’t felt since she was little, and NOT because there was a prince. The prince happened to fall in love with her to the point that he wants to find her and marry her. So the prince, although not necessarily a real character, is an essential element of the story, because he is the closest thing to the father that Cinderella lost. That doesn’t mean Cinderella’s main goal is a man.Cinderella’s main has always been happiness. It just so happened to be in the form of a prince: their love for each other was her ticket out of her horrible life. Arguably like Snow White, she earned the prince’s love through her gentle nature. I only wish the film had actually focused on the prince instead of focusing on the King and his valet. It would have been more powerful.
Although I can understand that in a more critical analysis, people would interpret that the fairy tale is says that a woman’s idea of happiness and reward will always be a man, which… yeah, I can sorta see why, but honestly I see Cinderella who’s trying to keep hoping. If they switched the prince for something else in the original fairy tale, like riches or something else, the character and her message would have remained the same.
From another of Disney’s most beautiful films from the classic era, Cinderella is an inspiration to us all, proving that dreams really can come true even in the most difficult times. Out of the first three Princesses from the classic Disney era, Cinderella’s my favourite, and she ends up being one of my personal favourite Disney Princesses. Yep, I love Cinderelly.
OH! Speaking of, when people think of a Cinderella film, they either think of this version or the Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella. If you haven’t watched the Rodgers and Hammerstein version of Cinderellawritten for television in 1957 and starring Julie Andrews in the leading role, go check it out. The music is fantastic and I LOVE listening to it. Musical theatre fans are probably very familiar with this musical, and other people might have seen this. They made two remakes of this, one from 1965, and another Disney version in 1997 which I’m sure some people have seen. The 1997 version features a multiple-ethnic cast, including notable celebrities such as Brandy as Cinderella, Whitney Houston as the Fairy Godmother, the marvellous Bernadette Peters as the stepmother, Whoopi Goldberg and Victor Garber as the King and Queen respectively, and Jason Alexander as the Prince’s butler and valet. I think my generation is familiar with the 1997 version already (I could be wrong), but if you haven’t, go check them out. Any of them.
Just bringing this up to recommend it to you.
In my next article, we’ll be looking at the sleeping beauty herself: Aurora.