Ask virtually any child over the age of five to tell you the story of Cinderella and they'll probably be able to have a good go. Unlike many fairytales, the 'bad guys' - or girls in this case - are as much figures of fun as they are sinister and there are few girls who, even if they aren't that keen on finding a handsome prince, wouldn't mind having a fairy godmother.

Disney's 1950 retelling of the Charles Perrault version of story is, in many ways, just about as traditional as you are going to get. Cinders is a patient and kind sort who, following the death of her father, has become a drudge at the hands of her unpleasant stepmother and sisters Drizella and Anastasia - who are more clumsy to look at and ugly by nature than outright grotesque. One day, it is announced that the King is to hold a ball - a ploy to marry off his son - and against the odds and thanks to friends and that fairy godmother, Cinderella manages to win the day and the heart of the prince. As with many of the Disney 'classics', however, it is not the central fairytale that provides much of the enjoyment but the cast of subsidiary characters.

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Here, the entertainment value is augmented greatly by the presence of mice Jacques and Gus - two pals of Cinderella - and their ongoing feud with fat and spoilt Lucifer the cat. The detailing of these animals and their friends is beautiful and the animators waste no opportunity to show off their skills for slapstick in scenes in which they outsmart their feline enemy (and, in all fairness, bulk out the story a bit). Younger kids will love the cuddly duo, while older ones will no doubt get a kick out of the rags to ball gown transformation that happens along to the catchy Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo. A Dream Is A Wish your heart makes may not have the catchiness of Snow White's One Day My Prince Will come, but it's not half bad and the scoring, in general, fits perfectly with the story.

It's not all action, and while there's plenty to keep the kids entertained, there are also nice poetic touches of animated artistry that will appeal more to adults, such as a scene in which a scrubbing Cinderella is reflected in a series of soap bubbles. The colour design, too, is cleverly used, with the warm pinks and light atmosphere of Cinderella's living quarters contrasting superbly with the bruised purples and greens and long dark shadows that grace her stepfamily's rooms.

This is a virtually all-girl affair. If you discount the animals, the only other male with much to say is the bumbling King, as the Prince is unscripted - a wise choice that helps keep the focus on the central character and dispenses with any of that unecessary mushy romance stuff. Despite her age, Cinderella is a pretty modern heroine. She might be a dab hand with a sewing needle but she is also pleasant, forthright, smart and brave. It's true that she is used to epitomise the fable of the "American dream" - work hard and you can make it - but surely that's the basis of all fairytales and there's little wrong suggesting that being kind to others is a worthy aspiration. In fact, the only line that really sticks out as anachronistic is when one mouse suggests Jacques and Gus "leave the sewing to the women".

Cinders may be heading into her fifties, but thanks to digital restoration she's looking as good as ever and still has a thing or two to teach about loyalty, friendships and holding on to your dreams.

Reviewed on: 13 Apr 2011
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Animated version of Charles Perrault's rags to riches story.
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Director: Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske

Writer: Charles Perrault, Bill Peet, Erdman Penner, Ted Sears, Winston Hibler, Homer Brightman, Harry Reeves, Ken Anderson, Joe Rinaldi

Starring: Ilene Woods, Eleanor Audley, Verna Felton, Rhoda Williams, James MacDonald, Luis Van Rooten, Don Barclay, Lucille Bliss, Marion Darlington, Mike Douglas, June Foray, Betty Lou Gerson, Earl Keen, Clint McCauley, William Phipps

Year: 1950

Runtime: 74 minutes

BBFC: U - Universal

Country: US


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