Sunday, May 20, 2012

Silent Sundays: Cinderella (1914)



If you had any sort of happy childhood and your parents were nice to you then you definitely sat through Disney movies and have seen his version of Cinderella. So sure you know the cartoon version and possibly if you are awesome like me used to watch the Rodgers and Hammerstein’s version with Ginger Rogers, Walter Pidgeon, Celeste Holmes, Lesley Ann Warren… if you have not seen this version I command you to go to youtube and find some scenes from this movie now!! Stop reading this now and go!
            Ok so you are back, lets continue… This version of Cinderella I am writing about is probably one you never even knew existed until now if you are not a film buff or know who Mary Pickford is or watch silent films. No worries I got ya on this one.
            So being familiar with the Cinderella story you should know that she was raised by her mean stepmother who kept her hidden away so that her ugly daughters would not have to compete with Cinderella’s beauty. In this tale a beggar woman waits outside the girl’s home looking for something small to eat and drink. The sisters and the mother ignore the woman but Cinderella is kind and gives the woman some food. The beggar woman turns out to be the queen of the fairies. While Cinderella is out in the wood looking for wood for the fire she is guided to a spot by a group of fairies. Tired from her search Cinderella falls asleep. When she wakes up she falls and hurts herself. Prince Charming is not far away and sees her fall. His entourage laughs but he yells at them to stop. The Prince finds Cinderella very pretty despite her rags and dreams of her in a nice dress. That night Cinderella dreams of the prince and with an innocent conscience she sees the fairies dancing in a clearing. The stepsisters had gone to a fortuneteller that day who told them that a member of their family will become royalty. The sisters have a guilty conscience that night waking up in a panic and walk over to the window to see the fortuneteller and his ugly group dancing around.
            The next day a letter is sent out to all the ladies of the kingdom that the King is holding a ball for the Prince in order to find a husband. Like the Disney version the sisters and the mother go to the party while Cinderella is left at home. The queen of the fairies comes to Cinderella and makes a pumpkin into a carriage, mice into horses, and rats into servants and gives Cinderella the prettiest dress. Of course she has to be back by midnight or everything will go to the way it was originally. When the Prince sees her he reminds her of the girl in the woods. The sisters and mother think she looks like their abused sister. The Prince walks with her in the gardens. The moment ends too soon when the clock strikes twelve.
            Take a guess what happens… Cinderella’s shoe falls off, the prince finds her, and marries her.
            Alright so here is the deal when sitting through this ninety-eight year old film… you need to watch it as the silent 1914 film it is. There is really nothing special about the film besides the fact that a twenty-two year old (and completely adorable) Mary Pickford is the star. The two ugly stepsisters are played by men so there is another reason to see this version. The movements of the actors are very over dramatic. There is an awesome stop motion sequence with a clock going all discombobulated in Cinderella’s dream. Just imagine you are an audience sitting through this film in 1914 and you will think it is pretty cool. My favorite scene was when Cinderella gets out of the carriage and pokes the servants face and touches him in the side to check him out and the servant jumps from being ticklish making her jump. You would have to see the scene it is really cute.
            As I mentioned this version of Cinderella has to be seen in its context as a silent film from ninety-eight year ago and not with modern eyes or a modern mindset. This is not considered one of Mary Pickford’s best film but this was one of her first feature length films and she was still young. I liked her performance and liked this silent version of Cinderella