Cinderella (1950)

The Setting
This story takes place in a far away land, in a tiny kingdom that is peaceful and prosperous. One that is ‘rich in romance and tradition.’ Cinderella lives in a chateau. From the use of this and other French terms we suspect it’s Monaco, but where is all the gambling? And Mt. Rainier? And James Bond? (Clearly we’ve never been to Monaco.) It’s either Monaco or Seattle.

Jerk Family
By the time Cinderella is a little girl, her father remarries a woman from an established family. He dies. Her step-mother, jealous of Cinderella, is wicked and cruel. Together with her daughters, Drizella and Anastasia (Cinderella’s step-sisters), she treats Cinderella as a servant in her own home. In fact, Cinderella is the only one we ever see doing any work at their chateau, so we assume she’s running the entire household.

Satan Cat
Cinderella communes with nature; talking and singing with birds, mice and other sundry animals. In a similar fashion as Snow White, Cinderella engages the animals to help her with her servant tasks. One animal is not Cinderella’s friend, however. The Step-Mother’s evil cat Lucifer. (Get it? Lucifer? Subtle.) Lucifer’s akin to Snow White’s step-mother’s crow, but nastier and a bit more of a free-agent. He is a cat after all.

A number of times, the mice, at times accompanied by Bruno the dog and the birds, struggle together to defeat the cat. Teamwork! If Lucifer was nicer, people might cooperate with him.

Cinderella: Meek and Mild, or Lacking Gumption?
Fast forward several years to young adult Cinderella. Through it all, Cinderella remains kind and gentle.

The Lesson? People who are unhappy and insecure are not going to be satisfied, even when they have everything. Cinderella is content with a little and is more confident and beautiful as a result.

The flip side of this though, is that she is also resigned in her oppression. She dreams wonderful dreams at night, she sings with animals. She’s gentle and kind. Yet she does nothing to better her lot. How about running away? Something? Anything? She stays in servitude only to be brought out of it by the Fairy Godmother. And speaking of,

The Fairy Godmother–What a Jerk
The Fairy Godmother is remembered as the magical being who swoops in and sets in motion a life of happiness for Cinderella. But that’s not quite right.

The Fairy Godmother appears just as Cinderella is all sobs because her step-mother and sisters have yet again dashed her dreams to smithereens. To perk her up, she magically dresses Cinderella in a beautiful white gown, turns a pumpkin into a carriage, the mice into horses and Bruno and the horse into the footman and the coachman, respectively. Cinderella is elated and bursting with gratitude.

Cinderella: It's more than I ever hoped for.

Then comes the fine print. ‘You must be home by midnight.’ That’s right, my dear. I can harness the environment, morphing plants and animals. I have a seriously cool magic wand and flabby old lady upper arms that you do not want to mess with, but I’ve seen no reason to relieve your suffering; to help you in any way right the injustices you’ve so patiently born.

It's okay, she works for the TSA

And now that she’s here, what does she offer (besides a free of charge butt sniff)? The prospect of a few hours of enjoyment at a ball where she may get to see the prince.  But then what? Oh, then you’ll return to your miserable existence, toiling away for a pittance of room and board until you die. Great.

Really what is the aim here?

And why w0uld a mystical creature, a Fairy Godmother no less, appear to serve the ends of the king? Cinderella could have met the prince at another time. The Fairy Godmother could have set Cinderella up in some other fulfilling life.

This is an awful comparison, but isn’t that kind of like giving slaves a few days off for Christmas? Where’s the lasting, meaningful change that she obviously could have offered? Is there supposed to be some reason why she didn’t?

The Ball and Eligibility
When the king (who has serious anger issues) calls for a ball, he stipulates that every eligible maiden is to attend. Who’s eligible? Every young woman at the ball is dressed to the nines. As the kingdom is very prosperous, perhaps everyone is cared for, perhaps they have configured their society so that there are no poor among them. Another possibility is that it is implied that to be eligible, one must be of a higher socio-economic echelon. Maybe they all have Cinderellas trapped in their homes. Perhaps it is part of the culture of this civilization to keep the least favored child in perpetual servitude.

The Prince and Their ‘Moment’
Despite her relations’ attempts to keep her home, Cinderella attends a gay ball during which the prince is supposed to find a wife. The prince, by the way, is a lot like the prince in Snow White; kind of superfluous, except that he’s her ticket to wealth and security. There’s no character development with the prince and thus no relationship development. He does dance and sing with her, but it’s kind of empty. It’s a nice moment and they sing about how they’re in love, but all in all it’s kind of vapid. But this soon ends because the fairy magic wanes and Cinderella leaves to avoid being seen in her normal servant garb. In her hurry she leaves behind a see-through item of clothing on the castle steps (gosh anything can be made dirty, can’t it?).

Why didn’t she stay with him? Would it have been so awful for him to see her in plain clothes? ‘You must be home by midnight.’ Or what? She should have just stayed with him.

The (Almost) End
The king’s personal assistant, or his wingman, depending upon the situation, is the Grand Duke. He is sent out to try the shoe on any female humanoid in the land. Whomever it fits, gets to marry the prince. Her sisters try it on; both unsuccessfully. Just as the Grand Duke is about to leave, Cinderella, now freed from the room where the Step-Mother had locked her away, comes rushing down the stairs, pleading to try it on. As the Grand Duke’s lackey walks toward her, the Step-Mother trips him with her cane, the glass slipper he’s carrying flies through the air, shattering into pieces on the floor. The Grand Duke, disconsolate, begins crying and playing with the broken glass (he has cutter tendancies). As this is happening, Cinderella produces the other glass slipper, proving it was she with whom the prince had a moment, and saving the Grand Duke from the wrath of the king.

The End
Cinderella and the prince get married.

Potent Ponderables:

  • Why does one of the mice, Gus, sometimes sound like an ewok?
  • The Grand Duke had been out shoe-fitting all night and nobody else fit that shoe? Seriously? That’s exasperatingly dumb.
  • What’s happening here:Is Cinderella: a) using Garnier b) getting a ‘simple but daring’ new dress, or c) experiencing the rapture?

Ratings:

MLE:
Rating:  11/17
Rating versus Joe versus the Volcano: Thumbs up.

Ricktopher:
Rating:  12/24
Rating versus Joe versus the Volcano: Thumbs down.

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