Cinderella has faith her dreams of a better life will come true. With help from her loyal mice friends and a wave of her Fairy Godmother's wand, Cinderella's rags are magically turned into a glorious gown and off she goes to the Royal Ball. But when the clock strikes midnight, the spell is broken, leaving only a single glass slipper... the only key to the ultimate fairy-tale ending!
Cinderella comes to Blu-ray from Disney in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this dual-layer disc. It is presented in 1080p/24hz. I only received the 2-disc Diamond Edition and not the 3-disc Gold edition, but my understanding is that each edition uses the same Blu-ray disc for the film. The Gold edition’s only difference is that it comes with a third disc containing a digital version.
I think they may be using the same transfer that was used for the 2-disc DVD released a few years ago and then touched it up a bit for Blu-ray. Colours are far brighter, better saturated, and come off much cleaner with no noticeable compression noise. Blacks are rich and deep and whites look fairly bright without blooming.
Noticeable right off is that Disney has scrubbed away all film grain. I’ve noticed this with other releases, like Lady and the Tramp, and to an extent it does bug me but as long as it doesn’t have any severe negative effects on the image I can live with it for an animated feature. I didn’t notice any problems on Lady and the Tramp but I felt there were some minor issues here. Generally the image looks great, presenting sharp clean lines and finer details in the backgrounds. But there are moments, longer shots specifically, where the image can look a little smeared and blurry. It’s possible this is inherent in the source but it doesn’t look natural and looks to be more related to digital meddling.
I don’t recall any source damage appearing at all, so the clean-up job is nice. In the end the image is certainly pleasing and many will be happy but it ends up coming off like it was made on a computer rather than by hand.
The 7.1 DTS-HD MA surround track is fairly uninspiring but is serviceable. Dialogue is clear, music sounds as though it could have been newly recorded, and there is some wonderful range. But the surrounds are given little to do and the activity back there isn’t all that impressive. Music makes its way back there and there are a few noticeable effects during many of the cat vs. mouse moments that occur throughout (things crashing, cats growling, etc.) but it’s otherwise a fairly basic surround presentation. But quality wise it sounds excellent.
Thankfully for the purists Disney has included a 1.0 DTS-HD MA mono track. It apparently preserves the original theatrical presentation. It actually sounds like a lot of effort went into this restoration as well and we get a clean, flawless presentation, with some decent range and excellent volume levels. It doesn’t show its age at all.
Though I no longer have the DVD edition to compare with it looks like everything has made it over from that edition, and Disney has thrown in some new content though most of that content is disappointing.
First off you have the option to watch the film with a 1-minute introduction by Diane Disney Miller. It’s a pretty basic intro that seems to act more like an ad for the Walt Disney Museum. You also have the option to watch the film with “DisneyView”. This option fills in the black bars with artwork, I’m guessing to please those annoyed by black bars. I’m fine without it but I’ll admit the artwork looks fine, limited to just simple borders, and they at least seem to work with whatever is occurring with the film so they’re not overly distracting. When you select this option you get a quick bio about the artist, Cristy Maltese, before starting the feature.
There is also a Second Screen presentation, entitled Personalized Digital Storybook: Bibbidi-Bobbidi-You. I played with something similar on Disney’s Lady and the Tramp Blu-ray and found it a fairly impressive. Using either your iPad or computer you could run an app that would speak to your Blu-ray player over your network. While the movie played different storyboards, notes, or videos would play as the movie played, showcasing some behind the scene moments involving the making of the film, or even puzzles or games. I thought this was rather clever and you could also control the movie from your device.
I unfortunately couldn’t get this working for Cinderella, though had no problems with Lady and the Tramp (the only other title I’ve tried this with.) I do not own an iPad so I had to use my computer. I downloaded the app, which was simply a Java applet that runs in a browser window, and when I tried to get the computer and player to synch, after selecting the option from the menu, they wouldn’t do it. I’m assuming it’s a network issue and one I hope to sort out. There is also the option to synch audio, where I believe the app reacts to audio from the film, but this unfortunately didn’t work for me as the mic wasn’t picking anything up (I’m assuming it’s a lousy mic.) Though I couldn’t get this working I wouldn’t read it as being broken or buggy; it’s more than likely an issue on my end and I will try to get it working again later and update this review.
Under “Backstage Disney: Diamond Edition” you get all the features exclusive to this Blu-ray edition, which are all presented in high-definition. First is The Real Fairy Godmother, which is a 12-minute documentary about animator Ken O’Connor and how he modeled the Fairy Godmother after his wife, Mary Alice O’Connor. It looks at designs of the character and also of other aspects that related to the character. We also get a short bio of O’Connor and information about her charity work. I enjoyed this feature and is probably the best of the new features (though the others are so dire there’s no competition.)
Behind the Magic: A New Disney Princess Fantasyland is hosted by Ginnifer Goodwin, runs 8-minutes, and is nothing more than an ad for a new area being constructed for Walt Disney World. The new park recreates various settings from films like Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella and admittedly this looks fairly cool, but it sort of kills me that an ad can be considered a special feature.
The Magic of the Glass Slipper: A Cinderella Story is a 10-minute short film revolving around Christian Louboutin and the design of a glass slipper that, as far as I understand it, was designed in collaboration with Disney and was done so for this release. I don’t know if I fully understand the purpose of the piece and found it painful to sit through, as it presents Louboutin looking for inspiration, with the help of animated characters and Cinderella stand-ins, in his design.
We then get a presentation of an alternate opening for the film. As other features mention on this disc the project went through many fits and starts, with many different versions. This opening, presented with rough drawings and storyboards and newly recorded voice acting, seems similar to the opening we get at first except Cinderella is immediately bombarded with chores from her step sisters. It runs only a minute and is interesting to see if nothing else.
Back to the main menu we then get the 6-minute short film Tangled Ever After, which I’m pretty sure played with Beauty and the Beast when it played in theaters this past year as I recall seeing it in the theater. Presented in 1080p/24hz and in 7.1 DTS-HD MA, it’s a cute little piece involving the main characters from the film Tangled getting married (I haven’t seen all of that film so I’m only somewhat familiar with it.) Without giving too much away it involves a missing wedding ring and the frantic pursuit to retrieve it. More Looney Tunes in nature I thought it was a rather fun little film, probably the highlight of the special features.
We then move on to some of the stronger material from the old DVD, found under the section “DVD Features.” We first get 2 deleted scenes with an introduction by producer Don Hahn who briefly talks about how scenes get cut from animated films (usually before they’re actually animated.) The two scenes, presented with rough art and/or storyboards are two musical sequences, Cinderella’s “Work Song”, which would be replaced by a similar one sung by the mice, and then “Dancing on a Cloud”, which would be replaced by the dance sequence we get near the end of the film. Interestingly this scene would have been more fantasy-like. This entire feature runs 10-minutes.
We then get some more music material, including a demo version of the opening title song and then 7 unused songs, running 2-minutes and 18-minutes respectively. We then get 3 excerpts from radio programs that sound to be promotional materials tied in with the film. These run 12-minutes total.
Next up is another sub-section, “Classic Backstage Disney”, which first presents the 38-minute documentary From Rags to Riches: The Making of Cinderella. Like most of Disney’s making-ofs from back in the day it’s fairly solid doc covering all areas of the production, also touching on the dire straits the studio was in during the war. There was a lot riding on this film and if it had failed the studio probably would have went into bankruptcy. The piece gathers interviews with various historians (which somehow includes director Garry Marshall and critic Joel Siegel) and current Disney employees who talk about the production, going over the design, the long history of developing the story, the music, voice acting, and so on. We also get archival interviews with some of the animators that worked on the film. Though I’m sure it sugar coats things and doesn’t cover every aspect it’s a good documentary and worth watching.
Another feature hosted by Don Hahn, The Cinderella That Almost Was, is a 14-minute segment about the many different versions of the film that developed over the years before Disney was able to finally make it. Digging through old notes, storyboards, sketches, concept art, and more, Hahn shows the many ideas that never made it to the finished film, along with very different plotlines and so on. It’s actually rather fascinating to see what the movie could have been, and I was also surprised that one version of the film actually made Prince Charming a far more significant character.
From Walt’s Table: A Tribute to the Nine Old Men is a 22-minute segment hosted by Joel Siegel, featuring a round table discussion with many of the current (in 2005 or so at least) animators who mentored under them, mixed in with archival interviews with the “nine old men” themselves. It looks at their work and their influences and is a nice little tribute.
The Art of Mary Blair is also a nice tribute to a specific artist, whose concept art and style heavily influenced quite a few films. It looks at her various work from Cinderella to Peter Pan and It’s a Small World. The feature runs 15-minutes.
We then get a storyboard-to-film comparison for the opening sequence. Running 7-minutes it is similar to other features of this type found on other discs, presenting the finished film in the lower right hand corner of the screen and the storyboards in the top left corner. We then get Walt Disney’s original 1922 Laugh-o-Gram version of Cinderella, running 7-minutes. This version presents a roaring-twenties version of the story, and it has some elements that would make it to Disney’s feature-length version. Though the animation and style is very crude it’s a fascinating inclusion and one I’m actually impressed made it to the special features.
The section then concludes with a 4-minute excerpt from The Mickey Mouse Club where the kids get a visit from Helene Stanley. We then get 6 theatrical trailers, the original 1950 trailer, and then re-release trailers from 1965, 1973, 1981, and then two from 1987.
The remaining items are ads, one for digital copy (which actually doesn’t come with this edition and is only included in the 3-disc Gold Edition of the film) and then a shameless ad promoting 3D.
Disappointingly, other than maybe the inclusion of the short film Tangled Ever After, the new content is pretty much a bust. But thankfully Disney included all of the features from the old DVD, which are stronger and far more interesting to go through.
The transfer was a little problematic but quite nice overall. I think I'm maybe just bothered by the "computer" look to it. The new supplements are disappointing, save for the short, but thankfully the strong features from the DVD made it. In all, it's still a nice edition and one I give a high recommendation to.