I love watching movies, especially ones that spark my imagination! 🙂 One movie that I watched a lot as a kid – and still love to this day – is Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella (1997).
Back then, the channel ABC used to have “The Wonderful World of Disney” on Saturdays, where they would show an episode or a movie. This was my favorite movie out of everything TWWoD has done, and there are some good reasons for it:
1) It had an engaging story.
While Cinderella is a classic tale, this version was fresh and intriguing. Cinderella (played by Brandy) has a pretty solid reason for why she stays with her step-family, even when she knows they are cruel, and even the step-mother (played by Bernadette Peters) is given a backstory explaining why she does what she does. Prince Christopher (yes, he gets a name), played by Paolo Montalban, is more than just a rebellious young man. He knows he has to take care of the kingdom, and he knows his duties – but his driving motive is he wants to do it his own way, rather than have everything planned for him.
And the Fairy Godmother (aka, Whitney Houston) is present throughout the whole tale, rather than just appearing for ten minutes in the middle! Everyone has a reason for behaving how they do, and they are accounted for throughout the whole film, making it much more interesting and engaging and fun!
2) The art style is phenomenal.
Seriously, look at the pictures in this post, and tell me they aren’t spectacular. The colors and geometric patterns captured my imagination as a child, and they continue to awe me and influence what I do!
3) This version added three “new” songs.
These songs weren’t written for the film, but were taken from other Rodgers and Hammerstein projects: The Sweetest Sounds in the beginning of the film, Falling In Love With Love in the middle, and There’s Music In You at the end. If I hadn’t read about it in trivia, I would never have known these were added for the movie. The Sweetest Sounds is when we first hear Cinderella share her desire to find love – not romantic love, but kindness and tenderness, something she knows her step-family won’t give to her. We also meet Prince Christopher, disguised as a peasant, and even he wants to find kindness and love! The melody is wistful and soft, and it makes you want to root for them to find love somewhere.
Falling In Love With Love is perfect for the step-mother’s backstory, as she keeps pushing the idea that getting to dance with the prince and become his bride has nothing to do with love, but marriage. In this song, she reveals that she once fell in love – or rather, with the idea of love. And then one day, she became disillusioned and fell out of love. She knows that maybe the prince won’t ever love her daughters, but that won’t stop her from pushing for a royal wedding!
There’s Music In You has to be one of my favorite power songs. Christopher found Cinderella, and now they’re getting married. The Fairy Godmother appears and praises Cinderella on finding her voice and becoming confident enough to leave the step-family and go after her happy ending. The “music” is her confidence and self-love, and now that she believes in herself, she can do anything she wants and go where she wants to go.
4) Small things often go unnoticed, but they make a big impact, and this movie is no exception.
Not until the umpteenth time I watched this did I realize that one of the gowns at the ball resembled a sari a little bit. How cool is that?
And, of course, there are lots of funny moments scattered throughout the film to make this even more entertaining. Here are some of my favorites:
Thanks for reading all the way to the end! If you’d like to read more, here’s a link to the bonus features for this entry!