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  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Cinderella's father barely has a presence in most versions of the tale, and as such his inaction can be interpreted in many ways that has varied between adaptations. The Perrault version states that Cinderella dares not tell her father because he is completely under the stepmother's thumb and wouldn't believe her, suggesting that he's unaware how badly she's being treated. The Grimm version has the father refer to Cinderella as a servant, implying he is indifferent to her. Most retellings have interpreted him in a more sympathetic light, usually by turning him into a Henpecked Husband who is afraid of the stepmother or a busy man who is always traveling. Another popular one is to just kill him off, since it resolves this question and isolates Cinderella completely.
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  • Values Dissonance: Many modern readers of the book and viewers of the film complain about Cinderella being passive and being a submissive servant to her stepfamily. However, these complaints greatly ignore the context of the time period the story's set in, where there were not a lot of options for women. If Cinderella told off her stepfamily for their treatment of her or ran away, she would have wound up on the streets and most likely end up in an even worse situation, such as forced prostitution. Plus, you'd imagine critics would find Cinderella too unsympathetic to like or root for. Staying with her stepfamily and putting up with the abuse was the Lesser of Two Evils for Cinderella until the events of the story gave her the chance to escape her abusers while not ending up homeless.

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The Disney version

  • Adaptation Displacement:
    • Some viewers misunderstand that this is adapted from the Charles Perrault version of the tale, not the Brothers Grimm version. Namely Disney did not drop the toe and heel cutting, as that wasn't in Perrault's version to begin with. Likewise the Fairy Godmother does not appear in the Grimm version, and there is a three-day ball there, and on the third day, the prince smears the castle steps with pitch, which causes Cinderella to leave behind a shoe. (This is the version that was adapted for Into the Woods.)
    • For many viewers, this film has thoroughly displaced the original fairy tale in any form. Whenever a new adaptation appears with a Cinderella whose looks and costumes are very different from Disney's, there tends to be disgruntled confusion about why Cinderella isn't blonde (neither Perrault's version nor the Grimms' ever mentions her hair color) or why her ball dress isn't blue (both Perrault and the Grimms describe the dress as gold and silver – and even in this film, it's actually silver, with only product tie-ins making it blue).
  • Alternate Character Interpretation:
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    • The Fairy Godmother makes a bit of a production out of giving Cinderella what she needs for the ball. Is she just a bit of a Cloud Cuckoo Lander (as the 2015 remake seems to think)? Or is she intentionally making the scene entertaining to cheer Cinderella up from the horrible thing her stepsisters did to her?
    • As the sequels both gave Anastasia a Heel–Face Turn, is she more of a victim than we realise? Even in the first movie, Drizella appears to be the aggressor when it comes to the bullying of Cinderella, and Anastasia gets some slapstick her way too. Is she joining her mother and sister in the bullying to avoid being tormented herself?
    • A few people have interpreted the “Leave the sewing to the women” line as the female mouse not wanting Jaq to help out of fear he’ll screw up, since a male mouse is seen on the sewing team in a later shot.
    • Does Lady Tremaine lock Cinderella in her room because she realizes she is the girl at the ball or does she simply not want to risk it fitting her regardless? Her listening to Cinderella hum the waltz seems to imply the former but her shock at seeing her with the other glass slipper seems to imply the latter. Storybooks based on the film also tend to go back and forth on this.
    • Why does the Grand Duke smile so delightedly when he sees Cinderella come down the stairs to try on the slipper? Do her beauty and her tiny feet (which the screenshot from the Duke's perspective focuses on) just give him hope that she might be the one who fits the slipper? Or does he actually recognize her from the ball?
    • A comical example when Anastasia gets her finger stuck in the flute. She may have been intentionally screwing up the music lesson and hitting Drizella's chin with it.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
  • Broken Base:
    • Some viewers hold it up as a true Disney classic and recognise it as the studio's return to form after the troubling World War II years. Others find it bland and unmemorable - it has notably less of a cult base than Alice in Wonderland, Sleeping Beauty or Lady and the Tramp.
    • Does Cinderella look best as a strawberry blonde with a white dress, like she is depicted in the film, or does she look better as a light blonde with a blue dress, like she does in merchandising?
    • Is Cinderella a good role model, or not? Some people believe that she is passive and weak, but some believe that she is a perfect example of a strong female character in a more subtle sense (she remains hopeful and kind-hearted, and even retains a sense of humor, despite being constantly abused). There are even some people who point out that insinuating Cinderella is weak for not leaving home or fighting back against her stepfamily can potentially come off as Blaming the Victim.
  • Character Perception Evolution: Cinderella was frequently dismissed as 'anti-feminist' for spending the majority of her film in a passive, servile role that she's only saved from when she marries a prince she doesn't know. In the 2010s however, there was a strong pushback to these statements; pointing out that Cinderella is an abuse victim trying to maintain a positive attitude to help get her through an incredibly difficult time. And she does rebel against her stepfamily by trying to go to the ball... and they respond by torturing and humiliating her because of it. It's now more common to see Cinderella highlighted as a brave survivor of abuse, with a Silk Hiding Steel persona.
  • "Common Knowledge":
    • This version was Bowdlerized from the original version... except this is actually specifically stated to be based off the Perrault version - not the Grimms brothers version. (Which itself is not the "Original" version either - Perrault published his tale in the 1690s - the Grimms brothers collected theirs in the 19th century.)
    • Cinderella proves her identity by putting on the glass slipper...except not really. In the film, it's clear that fitting the slipper is just a formality; what proves her identity is that she produces the other glass slipper when the first one breaks. Furthermore, the Grand Duke recognizes her.
    • Cinderella is often held up as a weak character who sits back and waits for the prince to rescue her... largely because of the perception she is. See What Measure Is a Non-Badass? below.
      • Among the criticisms of her character are the fact Cinderella doesn't stand up for herself. Actually, she does - on multiple occasions, Cinderella stands up to her step-family only to be shot down. She also regularly sasses Lucifer, at one point even chasing him down after he trashed the floor she worked so hard on cleaning.
      • Cinderella's own Establishing Character Moment does not mention marriage or the prince at all - just that she is rebelling by being kind and continuing to dream despite the obvious as day abuse she is being subjected to. She doesn't get rewarded by fighting her way out... she is rewarded because she was kind to the mice and birds.
      • Derision of Cinderella as weak for not leaving also carries massive Unfortunate Implications at the end of the day; she's a young woman being physically, mentally, and financially abused and isolated by her wealthy, influential family; and needing some outside help and resources to finally escape them is not something a real-life person in a similar situation should be ashamed of.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: The Grand Duke is well liked for being a side character. It's because he's the source of some of the films funniest moments as well as having a great deal of common sense, such as pointing out how the slipper might fit girls other than Cinderella.
  • Fashion-Victim Villain: The stepsisters aren't as bad as most live-action examples, but Drizella in particular has a giant green bow on her head mixed with an unflattering hairstyle, and her ballgown has a bustle that's comically large. Anastasia's fondness for pink does clash with her red hair a little, but she's Ugly Cute at worst (which is probably why she's the one who gets a Heel–Face Turn in sequels).
  • Girl-Show Ghetto: The Disney Princess franchise pushed several Disney movies into this, but Cinderella might have fallen the most deeply. The Platinum Edition DVD has a girlier set of games than any other movie in the collection, and the Cinderella Trilogy Blu-Ray/DVD Boxset comes packaged in a white jewelry box. In the UK, Cinderella DVDs actually got pulled out of the Disney Vault for a few weeks of 2011, so families anticipating the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton could share them with their daughters. The 2015 remake was also heavily touted as a "girls' movie", far more so than Maleficent or Beauty and the Beast (2017).
  • Harsher in Hindsight: The King's line "I want to see my grandchildren before I go." While in this version he survives to the end and will presumably get his wish, in the 2015 remake he suffers Death by Adaptation and never gets to see his son's wedding, let alone his future grandchildren.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Cinderella plans to wear a pink dress to the ball, but ends up wearing a white one. Although it's shades of white in the film, it's coloured blue in merchandise. This is hilarious when one thinks of the next Disney Princess - whose fairy godmothers had a war over whether her dress should be blue or pink. And the one who changes her dress from pink in this film is voiced by Verna Felton - who voices the fairy that wants to keep Aurora's dress pink.
    • Another Sleeping Beauty one. In both films the heroine arrives home to have her friends greet her with a new dress, saying "surprise, happy birthday". The fact that Gus says the line mistakenly is amusing since it actually is Aurora's birthday the next time around.
    • The Grand Duke's Wrong Genre Savvy speech about how the Kings spectators for Love at First Sight at the ball being unlikely becomes this in light of the subsequent live action movies to feature Cinderella and the prince where either they did meet before the the Ball or their love at first sight is fleeting.
  • Iron Woobie: Cinderella. Even with all the abuse and hate her stepmother put her through, be it by herself or through her daughters, she never lost hope that someday things would look up for her... at least not until the stepsisters destroy the dress she wanted to wear to the ball (and said dress was made from clothes belonging to her mother, so it makes sense that she'd be upset).
  • Launcher of a Thousand Ships: Though not quite the shipping magnet as newer Disney royalty such as Elsa or Ariel, Cinderella gets treated this way a lot (especially when compared to the other two 'classic' princesses). A good portion of this is thanks to the third film. It's one of the best received Disney made-for-video sequels. Fans really took to Cinderella's Xenafication and more in-depth characterization, which boosted her popularity and subsequently how shippable she is.
  • Mis-blamed: Fans of the Grimmified version of Cinderella tend to accuse Disney of toning the story down by skipping over the gory scenes. Actually, the version Disney chose to adapt is the version written by Charles Perrault, which didn't have any gore to begin with. The Grimm's version was also written over a century after Perrault's.
  • Money-Making Shot: Undoubtedly it's the shot of the Fairy Godmother transforming Cinderella's torn dress into her ballgown. It's gone down in history as one of the most recognisable Disney moments, and it was Walt Disney's personal favourite scene in any of the animated films.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • You can understand Lady Tremaine wanting her own daughters to come first, and even keeping the more beautiful Cinderella from going to the ball because she would outshine the Sisters. But when she actually locks Cinderella in the tower even though her own daughters can't possibly fit the slipper, it's nothing but pure spite, even though her step-daughter marrying the prince would be a fine way to enter high society. Breaking the slipper is just icing on her ruthless cake by that point.
      Gus: No! No! She can't do it! She can't lock up Cinderelly! I'm gonna...
    • For some, the stepsisters crossed it when they ripped up Cinderella's dress. Sure it was at their mother's manipulations but it's the first time anyone in the movie was that physically cruel to her. Some fans found Anastasia impossible to sympathise with in the second movie. But the third, which really puts her through the Trauma Conga Line after her Karma Houdini Warranty had been voided, was seen as adequate karma for how she behaved.
  • Most Wonderful Sound: The chorus that sings along with the Fairy Godmother in "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo" to help with the magic.
  • Never Live It Down: The Prince for being in the film for thirty seconds despite his big role in the story, and for trying to find his true love via shoe size rather than facial recognition. (Though most viewers forget that the King, who was so desperate to get his son hitched to any girl ASAP in order to get grand kids, deliberately misconstrued the Prince's Exact Words to force him to marry the first girl the Duke could find to fit the slipper, whom the King sent out behind the Prince's back.)
    The Duke: The Prince, sire, swears he'll marry none but the girl who fits this slipper!
    The King: Oh, he said that, did he? (kisses the slipper) Ha ha! We've got him!
    The Duke: But Sire, this slipper may fit any number of girls!
    The King: That's his problem. He's given his word, we'll hold him to it.
  • One-Scene Wonder: The Fairy Godmother has only one scene, but she and her song are among the Disney Animated Canon's most memorable segments.
  • Retroactive Recognition:
    • Fans of Invader Zim and The Smurfs (1981) may recognize Anastasia’s first voice actress, Lucille Bliss as Ms. Bitters and Smurfette.
    • Not that she's all that recognizable, but June Foray makes her first Disney appearance as Lucifer.
    • Mike Douglas, the singing voice of the Prince, would later go onto host a very successful talk show in the 1960s and 70s (first in Cleveland, then Philadelphianote ).
  • Realism-Induced Horror: What makes Tremaine so terrifying. She's not some over-the-top, magical being like most Disney villains, rather she's just a normal woman who milks her affluence and power over exactly one person for all it's worth (she's only slightly kinder to her biological daughters). Due to Cinderella's young age when Tremaine took her in and the time period in which the story is set, Cinderella's abuse feels especially inescapable. Had there been no Fairy Godmother, Cinderella may have been subject to this life forever.
  • Signature Song: "A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes" and the Oscar-nominated "Bibbidi-Bobbidi Boo".
  • Slow-Paced Beginning: The first twenty minutes (of a film that's only slightly more than an hour, mind you) is taken up with the mice's elaborate scheme to avoid Lucifer while getting their breakfast.
  • Squick: Anastasia squeezing her foot into the slipper looks quite disconcertingly like foot-binding.
  • Tear Dryer:
    • The Fairy Godmother's entire appearance after the stepsisters destroy Cinderella's dress. Specifically when they first meet, the Fairy Godmother strokes Cinderella's hair as she cries.
    • Cinderella telling the Grand Duke she has the other glass slipper after Lady Tremaine makes the footman break the first one.
  • Ugly Cute:
    • Drizella and Anastasia. Anastasia's cuteness increases subtly in the sequels with her Heel–Face Turn.
    • Also Lucifer. It helps that people tend to love animated cats and his expressions are so goofy it's hard not to find them cute.
  • Unintentional Uncanny Valley: To modern-day viewers, Cinderella can come off as this occasionally - in particular, her blinking looks really creepy, like someone moving a doll's eyelids, making her sometimes look like a mannequin. This could be attributed to a majority of her animation being rotoscoped from model Helene Stanley's movements.
  • Unnecessary Makeover: As noted above, some people prefer the pink dress Cinderella was going to wear to the ball - especially as it was her mother'snote . In a meta sense, fans feel this way about Cinderella getting depicted with blonde hair and a blue dress in the Disney Princess merchandise - rather than her strawberry blonde hair and silver-white dress in the film.
  • Values Dissonance: "Leave the sewing to the women". What's really weird in this case is that it's a lady mouse who says this after Jaq volunteers to do the sewing! Then some male mice are clearly shown sewing later on anyway, making the line even weirder.
  • Values Resonance: This story resonates with a lot of people who were raised by narcissists and abusive parents. Tremaine's exaggerated to show just how scary she is from Cinderella's point of view, since she has actual power. Cinderella outright defies her in private by being happy despite Tremaine's attempts to outright destroy her. While Cinderella needs more help than later Disney Princesses do in making her dreams come true, she does stand up for herself the first time her stepfamily forbids her from attending the ball, and also foils Lady Tremaine's schemes to prevent her from marrying Prince Charming — first by calling Bruno to chase away Lucifer, then by revealing to the Grand Duke that she has the other glass slipper.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Didactic?: According to this article, when the film first premiered in 1950, it's been thought a fashion allegory between Cinderella's Gorgeous Garment Generation from the tattered maidservant dress to the sparkly silver ballgown was about the transition from wartime austerity to full-time postwar glamour from Christian Dior's introduction of his "New Look" designs.
    Christian Dior: Now that Cinderella's fairy godmother no longer exists, the couturier must be the magician.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Badass?: Cinderella is generally used as the Ur-Example of the "weak, passive" Damsel in Distress Princess Classic that gets bashed in this feminist era. Snow White and Aurora tend to get more leeway since Snow White does flee from her abusive home life in her movie while Aurora was cursed with an enchanted sleep throughout most of hers, in addition to both films featuring some action sequences, even if they were performed by other characters, whereas the closest thing Cinderella has to one is the confrontations between Lucifer and the mice. And while Cinderella III: A Twist in Time does make her more action-oriented, it can be argued that the sequel is expanding on character traits that were already there in the first film - namely Cinderella's Silk Hiding Steel persona. Walt Disney himself felt that Cinderella was a strong character in her own way - noting that she didn't wait for her prince, "she went right over and got him".
  • Win Back the Crowd: For the eight years since Bambi, Disney had fallen on hard times and been forced to put out cheaper package films that audiences were now seriously tired of. This film marked their return to more ambitious material and kicked off the studio's first big comeback.
  • The Woobie:
    • Cinderella of course. The Disney version actually increases her status in this category - with a cruel Hope Spot where her friends make a dress for her to wear to the ball, and it gets completely destroyed by the sisters. And her stepmother actively tries to prevent her from being with the prince once she discovers the truth.
    • The Grand Duke. The poor guy is a nervous wreck in many of the scenes that involve the possibility of something going wrong with the king's plan to get Prince Charming to marry (notable examples include how frantic he is when Cinderella flees the ball, how terrified he is when psyching himself up to tell the king that she's gone, and how upset he is when the slipper is broken.) It certainly doesn't help that the king gets rather murderous when things don't go his way.

Other versions

  • "Common Knowledge": Some people claim Perrault's slippers were fur (vair), not glass (verre) and/or offer the "fur slipper" as a restoration of the "real" Cinderella (Mercedes Lackey's Tales of the Five Hundred Kingdoms makes a nod to this). This is false — "vair" was an archaic word in Perrault's time.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: The 1973 Czech/German version, 'Tři oříšky pro Popelku' ("Three Nuts for Cinderella" or "Three Wishes for Cinderella"), is highly beloved in countries like Germany, Slovakia, Norway, Ukraine etc. being shown annually as a Christmas special.
  • Narm Charm: In Norway, the above mentioned annual broadcasting of the Czech/German version is translated by a voice-over man, comically and yet charmingly changing the tone of his voice to fit the characters, both male and female. This version of the film is so popular in Norway around Christmas times that when the TV network one year decided to air the film without the voice-over, this resulted in a backlash with the audience demanding the voice-over back, the translator being considered about half of the film's charm.
    • The story behind the dub is quite interesting in its own right. Many years later, the guy who did the voice-over, an actor named Knut Risan, revealed in an interview that he'd actually been working on dubbing a different movie, when he was suddenly called in by the producer to do a voice-over translation for a movie he'd never even heard of. He was handed the script and essentially watched the movie for the first time while dubbing it. The entire thing only took a couple of hours.

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