Monday, April 05, 2010

Cinderella (1950)

Regarding the mice in Cinderella, let me just make the following observation: it would be one thing if they just wore clothes as a matter of course. Nobody would think anything of it. But here's the thing: they don't. Gus is a newcomer, and when he's introduced, having been caught in a trap (yes, the evil stepwomen use non-kill mousetraps. JUST ACCEPT IT), he's bare-ass naked, the way God intended. He only gets dressed when Cinderella orders him to. All I'm saying is, the fact that she seems to feel a compulsive need to dress the local vermin in miniature people-clothes does not speak well for her mental stability. Seriously, the first words out of her mouth upon hearing that there's a new mouse around is "well then, he'll need a suit and jacket, won't he?" or words to that effect. You can't tell me that's normal.

Boy oh BOY the talking mice are awful. Saccharinely cutesy in the worst way possible, best manifested in their vomitous habit of referring to our heroine as "Cinderelly." Their horrible, squeaky voices would be bad enough if they were not given two horrible songs to sing (one is just a reprise of "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes," which is just mediocre under other circumstances, but the mice really give it that extra push). Gus, especially, is such an ideal candidate for natural selection in action. I can't tell you how much I hate that idiot. I suppose the only good thing about him being allowed to continue to pollute the gene pool is that it should only take a few generations (and mice breed like mice, I am given to understand) for the entire population to get so utterly stupid and useless that Lucifer can slay them all with one mighty swipe of his paw.

GAH! I'm done with the mice now. DONE, I say! Lucifer the cat is, at any rate, a great character, full of leering, over-the-top EEEE-vil. And he doesn't talk! Why couldn't the mice manage that? The evil stepmother, Lady Tremaine, is also a good villain--a pure, stone-cold bitch. Quite majestic in her awfulness.

On the other hand...I dunno; maybe I'm oversensitive here, but I find the evil stepsisters Troubling. By which I mean: They're ugly! They're stupid! They're spoiled! They're talentless! They're simpering! They fairly radiate with the filmmakers' contempt. I know a fairytale--let alone a Disney version of a fairytale--cannot help but draw in rather broad strokes, but *I* cannot help but detect some not-all-that-veiled misogyny here, which I do not find very pleasant to watch. Under the circumstances, it's probably a good thing that, this being a Disney film, the whole foot-mutilation thing had to be excised. Disney really didn't need another, more gruesome, opportunity to heap yet more abuse on their whipping girls.

Also, Goll E. Jeepers--of course, you've got to expect the romances in Disney princess movies to be pretty simplistic, and for the princes to be little more than cardboard cutouts, (even if this is to some degree ameliorated in the more recent examples of the genre), but for some reason it struck me a whole lot harder here than it ever did in Snow White or Sleeping Beauty. I think it's because, in addition to the prince being a big, fat nothing, the fact is ground in our faces by the fact that he sees Cinderella, instantly falls in love, and is confidently expected by the king to propose to her that very night. I dunno, man...even by fairytale standards, this strikes me as a bit much.

So no, I didn't particularly care for this movie. Yeah, I dug Evil Cat and Evil Stepmother, but that's about it. Okay okay, I guess the Fairy Godmother's song is kind of all right too. But that's all! What has to be fully half the movie is taken up with the mice's allegedly comic dicking around, and most of the rest is concerned with the awful romance. What exactly is there to like?

One possibly-interesting observation I'll make, though: this is only Disney's second princess movie, but there is a huge design gulf between Cinderella here and Snow White in the first. As far as I've been able to tell, these Disney Princess direct-to-DVD things don't seem to include the latter, and it's very easy to see why: I like Snow White a lot, but the character has this sort of zaftig, fuzzy look that is just a completely different aesthetic than any of the other princesses have (the fairy in Pinnochio is similar). You can pretty easily picture all of the others belonging in the same world, but Snow White you really can't. It would be tremendously jarring to see her in the same movie as her sistren(?).

Anyway, now I've seen every Disney Princess movie, so here are my fairly-predictable rankings:

1. Beauty and the Beast
2. The Little Mermaid
3. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
4. Aladdin
5. The Princess and the Frog
6. Sleeping Beauty
7. Cinderella
8. Pocahontas

As for Mulan, it's a fantastic movie, but the title character is not in any sense a "princess," or any kind of nobility for that matter, by birth or by marriage, in spite of what Disney apparently wants you to believe.


Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. pontificated to the effect that...

Bonus fun fact for duck comics fans: the two main mice, Jacques and Gus, used, for some damn reason, to live on Grandma Duck's farm, in one of those bizarre-yet-surprisingly-common crossovers that Disney to which Disney was given.

2:07 AM  
Blogger Kaitlyn pontificated to the effect that...

Are you going to be posting your thoughts/reviews of the rest of the movies, or have you already?

I really enjoy these.

If I were Cinderella, I'd have stolen some money from step-mom and escaped long ago.

Also despite the movie and the YA tag, Ella Enchanted is a really good version of the Cinderella story, including an explanation for why she doesn't tell them to STFU and run off with a hunky stable boy (besides the time and possibly the idea that female obedience is ideal... oh boy) - she's cursed to obey everything. She does run away, and is caught, but happy ever after! And makes sure her stepsisters are taken care of. It's quite sweet.

A darker take is "Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister" by the same man who wrote Wicked. (I first read Confessions on Sept 11th... and got extra credit in English because it was so long.) Cinderella is not the hero, but the stepmom is pretty vain and wants to get to the top of society. Except it's set around the time of the tulip boom in Holland, so they lose everything everything and the Cinderella character must work.

Both offered more nuanced portrayals of Cinderella and her step family, the latter moreso, of course.

Eric Idle narrates the movie version of Ella Enchanted, but that's not worth suffering through it! And Confessions was made into a TV movie with Stockard Channing as the stepmom.

10:01 PM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. pontificated to the effect that...

Glad you like them. I've written about a fair few of them already--Pinnochio, Lady and the Tramp, The Aristocats, The Jungle Book, that horrible Lion King sequel (which probably shouldn't count, but still...), The Great Mouse Detective, briefly. There are obviously many more I hadn't, but I'm only five movies away from having seen all forty-five 2-D, theatrical Disney features. Might be awhile before I finish, because I'm kind of busy with other things and there appear to be no good rental places in this podunk town, but when I do, there will undoubtedly be various retrospectives and top and bottom ten lists and hopefully-fun things of that nature.

Wikipedia tells me that in Disney's direct-to-DVD sequels, the redheaded stepsister becomes non-evil. And also less ugly, natch, because you know. Woo, as our least-favorite duck would say.

12:32 AM  
Blogger Kaitlyn pontificated to the effect that...

That is an interesting goal/accomplishment!

I set two movie goals recently and did both of them. I made it through The Ten Commandments (somehow) so I could be a true American (or something, the dehydration from the 5 hour walk through the desert went to my head). And this week, my goal was to leave my comfy dorm and heating pad and watch a movie at the UC. (Good Hair - much better than TTC and shorter!)

And you forgot - you did a post on Song of the South.

After you do this, you could go to your admins and ask about doing a short class on children/disney films. We get some interesting one semester only courses at the upper class level.

Or not, because then it would become work. But I just signed up for an upperclass english class called "children's lit" and thought of signing up for a UD course on film. Combine the two!

12:13 AM  

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