Cinderella Blu-ray Review
As usual with their 1.33:1 transfers, Disney have been kind enough to include an option that allows you to view the film with specially commissioned painted borders that tie-in, thematically and aesthetically, with the settings and locations of the scenes as they unfold. I would certainly recommend doing this. The blending and patterns fit right in with the image and help to create a more captivating overall picture to peruse.
The image, itself, which has been encoded via AVC, is smooth and clean, sharp and clear. You didn’t suspect otherwise, did you? Not even for one second. There is no damage, no wear and tear, and the film totally belies the fact that it was made sixty-two years ago. It looks gorgeous, folks.
Personally, I think that Snow White and Bambi are possibly the most visually interesting of the early Disney pictures that have come to Blu-ray, but there is nothing lacking in this presentation of Cinderella. The image is vibrant and resplendent and beautifully entrancing from start to finish, with colour saturation so majestic and fresh and lustrous that you kind of want to place dust-sheets on the carpet in front of the screen to catch any drips. The pinks and pale blues are the sort of sheens that are new to this offering, and they look fantastic. But the thicker, deeper elements of the spectrum are equally as hypnotic.
The primaries are certainly bold and vivid, and they can be quite vivid and eye-popping when contained to the smaller details – like the natty little clothes that Cinders has made for the mice, or the green of Lucifer’s malignant eyes, say – and the reds seem to burn a little bolder and more seductive than anything else. The palette is rarely submerged in the deepest shadows, and the vistas are invariably light, bright and airy. This is not a complaint, and it is worth pointing out that although Cinderella is not a film that would necessarily benefit from oozing, thick black shadows, there are some sequences bathed in evocative midnight blues and ominous silvery-greys that look equally as smooth and fancifully lacquered. But this is more memorable for its surrealistic images of magic transformations and romantic dancing, scenes that occur in a delightful star-spun glens and a melting-pot of oranges, pinks and yellows. It is a story for little girls and their whimsical fantasies of what love and romance should be … and this is perfectly reflected by a transfer that spreads pastoral shades across the screen without a single blemish, and knows exactly when to burst forth with senses-caressing colour.
Like Sleeping Beauty, there is something of less “organic” feel to the visuals than say, Snow White or Pinocchio or Bambi which seem to drip still-wet colours and splash themselves across the screen as though invisible artists’ hands are creating them before our very eyes. The look here is detailed and glossy to the point where, as intoxicating and lush as it is, it can seem overly bright and smooth to some people, and possibly less fluid as a result. One person I viewed this disc with said that the image looked quite artificial and digital – and I suppose that this was because it looks so smooth and clean. Fear not, there is plenty of texture and depth to the picture, and the live-action movements work very well against the sumptuous backgrounds, creating a flow to the film that is a delight to watch.
The lines are fine and smoothly rendered, with no flickering or aliasing to mar our appreciation of the artistry. Object delineation is always sharp and clean. Backgrounds betray no evidence of banding and fast-action is blissfully free of smearing.
This is an immaculate transfer that brings the fairytale visuals to gleaming, scintillating life. A very strong 9 out of 10, folks … nudging a 10, in fact.
It is nice that Disney lavish such attention on their heritage, but granting Cinderella a lossless 7.1 mix, in DTS-HD-MA flavour, is perhaps gilding the lily quite unnecessarily. If there was much that could be exploited in this vintage sound-design to make this development worthwhile then it would be a different story. But there isn’t. This is an unutterably, unapologetically, unashamedly limited mix that stretches across the front without much in the way of elaborate depth or vigour, and does not offer anything of note that the surround channels get to handle.
However, even if granting this a 7.1 track seems like fanciful overkill that merely panders to what Disney assumes modern home-theatre enthusiasts all crave from their freshly purchased BDs, then its delivery is still sure to please both the purists as well as those who believe they are actually getting more for their audio-buck. There is no escaping the fact that the original elements are restricted, restrained and somewhat contained within a much smaller sonic environment than, say, The Princess and the Frog, Tangled or the latest Tinkerbell adventure, which all enjoy liberal wraparound effects, but the score and some of the songs swoon with smooth choral backing – Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo really bounces and wobbles with lollopy fun – and the fast-action and chaos during the cat-and-mouse scenes provide energy and some directionality across the front.
The surrounds pick up the score without any fuss, but I noted little else emanating from them. There certainly isn’t any diagonal activity or panning effects to speak of. However, it is certainly worth pointing out that the track does feel quite spacious at times, which satisfyingly opens-up the story, and allows for a fuller appreciation of the music which adds some nicely specific instrumentation.
But, happily, Disney’s disc also includes a DTS HD MA 1.0 channel track that appropriates the “Original Theatrical Mix”. Now, this definitely sounds different from the expanded mix, and many may well prefer it. Dialogue and music are still very clear and crisp, and the track has a fair degree of energy, but you may suddenly feel that the greater space and separation afforded the surround mix provides the edge.
So, the 7.1 aspect may be unnecessary, but this is the track that I preferred. All in all, this gets a 7 out of 10.
This Diamond Edition of Cinderella comes with all the bonus features that could be found on its previous collector’s release on DVD, as well as some choice new material. There is a version of this BD that actually comes with a DVD as well, and even a triple-movie gift-pack that includes the two sequels.
There is a Disc Intro from Diane Disney Miller, a gaggle of Deleted Scenes and an Alternate Opening, as well as Unused Songs and Radio Programs and Theatrical Trailers.
Under the banner of Backstage Disney, we get The Real Fairy Godmother, Behind The Magic: A New Disney Princess Fantasyland and The Magic of the Glass Slipper: A Cinderella Story.
It’s great to see the unused ideas and the bits that Disney ditched, but perhaps of most interest to the target audience is Tangled Ever After, a dazzling 6-minute short that fills in the helter-skelter and zany details of what really happened on the wedding day of Flynn Rider and Rapunzel in Disney’s smash-hit 2010 caper, Tangled. With full hi-def and lossless presentation, this looks and sounds tremendous, and it is a worthy little addition to a wonderfully told yarn. As the two heroes of the story stand at the altar about to say their vows, fate conspires to toss their rings into oblivion and, via the bizarre gravity-defying laws of animated physics, somehow contrive to go on a madcap tour of the kingdom with Maximus, the loyal horse, and Pascal, Rapunzel’s comedy-chameleon (everyone should have one!) anxiously pursuing them on a wild and exuberant mini-adventure. This is good fun and highly entertaining. My kids love Tangled and they adored this enjoyable little footnote … but wished that it went on for longer.
A good selection.
Cinderella was at the cusp of changing styles and attitudes at the House of Mouse. The more ambitious era of boundless invention and innovation was behind the studio, and they were about to embark on a more productive, though less accomplished Silver Age. Cinderella was, therefore, something of a gateway to a new phase and, as such, it combines elements of both periods – the fairytale ethics and immaculate visuals of the classics, and the slapstick and frivolity of much of what would come. But its unparalleled distinction is in adhering to the greatest dream-come-true of all little girls – that of being whisked out of the dull and the dreary by Prince Charming. The dream does not go beyond that “happily ever after” finale to the cynical land of regret and doubt and that, folks, is where the true magic lies.
Cinderellaencapsulates the last staging post between make-believe romance and the reality of what comes after the sunset. It is quintessentially and uniquely a girl’s story … and yet it is still one that we can all enjoy.
Disney doesn’t screw around with their transfers and Cinderella looks and sounds fantastic on Blu-ray. Trust me, looking this good, Cinders shall go the ball!
And nor have they short-changed fans in the extras department, with a rich gathering of features and additions to wade through. The inclusion of Tangled Ever After is splendid and the icing on the cake, and at least it wasn’t put out as a standalone short or, worse yet, used as a bargaining chip to make parents rush out and purchase another even more “special” edition of Tangled – which they could so easily have done.
Each new Disney animated BD is a treat and this is no exception.
You’ll have a ball with our Cinders!
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