Throughout history, Disney’s widespread movie collection influenced numerous social norms and traditions of everyday life. From the numerous well-known songs and the iconic theme parks to the beloved Mickey Mouse, the Disney name sparks a love for all of their movies with their classic tales of love and magic. However, one movie triumphs over the all the others. Cinderella, the greatest Disney movie created, not only demonstrates classic Disney movie characteristics and important moral lessons like kindness, but also distinguishes a major turning point for the Disney production company.
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In many Disney movies, magic extends throughout the plotline of the movies; for example, Cinderella’s magical fairy godmother comes to aid Cinderella when she struggles to find a suitable gown, carriage, and assistants after she had been forbidden to attend the ball (Cheston). Her fairy godmother then magically creates a carriage from a pumpkin, her mice companions into people, and her ragged dress into a ball gown, which further emphasizes the magical qualities of the film (Cheston). Compared to Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, another successful Disney film, exemplifies these magical details that Disney often incorporates into their movies. In the story, Briar Rose, the main character, becomes blessed with magical gifts by the fairies of the kingdom; however, one fairy discovers she was not invited to the ceremony, so she decreed that when the child pricks her finger on a spinning wheel, she will die (Grimm 178). The magical qualities like the fairy godmother and the magical spells in Cinderella mirror the characteristics in Sleeping Beauty, which shows a prominent pattern in the films. Animals also play a major role in Disney films (Cheston). For example, Cinderella’s friends composed of animals like mice and birds that were often personified through regular human-like actions like mending a dress, messing with the cat, and taking a key (Cheston). Similar to Cinderella, Mulan describes the story of a young girl who secretly trades places with her father in a war to save his life (Jacobson). In order to protect her throughout her journey, her sacred ancestors release a small dragon named Mushu to accompany her (Jacobson). Based on Cinderella and Mulan, both movies possess animals with human qualities. Love also presents itself in many Disney movies. In Cinderella, Cinderella strived to be able to attend the ball and meet the prince, who she later fell in love with (Cheston). As the story resolves, Cinderella leaves her stepmother and stepsisters to be with her prince charming; this event emphasizes love in the story (Cheston). Another Disney movie that promotes love is The Little Mermaid, which describes the story of a young mermaid who saved a prince from drowning and longs to be in the real world to see her love again (Seiden 28). In order to accomplish her task, she trades in her beautiful voice and her tail to the Sea Witch in exchange for human legs (Seiden 28). In both movies, each young woman wanted to find true love. By observing other classic Disney movies, it is evident that the movie Cinderella does possess the typical movie characteristics shown in other popular films.
Throughout Cinderella, the plot exemplifies important life lessons that are valuable to learn. For example, “You must not let others define you” (Akande). Cinderella suffered from harsh ridicules from her stepmother and stepsisters and was considered a servant in the household (Grimm 81). However, even though Cinderella received cruel judgement and actions from her stepfamily, she refused to allow opinions of others define her true self (Akande). The importance of forgiveness also presents itself throughout the movie. In the Brothers Grimm version of the story, Cinderella’s stepmother ordered her to “pick two dishes of lentils out of the ashes” in order to prevent Cinderella from attending the ball (Grimm 82). However, instead of allowing negative parts of her life control her, Cinderella continued to enjoy her life and forgive her stepfamily by not holding a grudge (Akande). Additionally, kindness is prominent throughout the movie (Akande). In the movie, Cinderella faces challenges like finishing the long list of chores that her stepmother assigns (Cheston). Instead of being negative and bitter, she remains positive and kind in order to leave with her prince charming (Cheston). Because of the film’s abundance of moral lessons, the importance and quality of the film is increased.
Along with movie characteristics and moral lessons, Cinderella also marked an important historical turning point for Disney. In 1939, Adolf Hitler and his army invaded Germany, sparking the beginning of World War II (Cline and Clark 59). Because of the tension between the United States and parts of Europe, foreign trade was blocked, and U.S. money was frozen, which severely damaged the economy of all parts of America (Cline and Clark 59). Pinocchio, an early Disney film, flopped in theaters along with Fantasia and Bambi, which put Disney in millions of dollars of debt because of the chaos of the war (Cline and Clark 59). Since Disney was drowning in over four million dollars of debt, producers had to think creatively to use the rest of their resources to rescue the company from closure (Cline and Clark 77). Walt Disney, the creator of the Disney production company, established an astonishing technique, which was “double-tracked vocals” (Cheston). In the song “Sing Sweet Nightingale,” the same vocalist would harmonize with herself on the recording, and this greatly reduced the financial cost for Disney to produce Cinderella (Cline and Clark 77).
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