Albert E. Smith claimed that this was the first foreign film to be acquired by an American company (his company, Vitagraph). Release prints were bought in France for $100 a piece and brought to the US, where a team of workers set about hand coloring every frame. According to Smith, colorizing a film was not attempted again by Vitagraph because it caused too much eye strain for their workers. See more »
My score of 10 is relative to other productions during this very early era in film as well as director Georges Méliès' other films. If you were to compare it to later silent films, then CENDRILLON will come up very, very short due to its very archaic style. And this type of comparison just wouldn't be fair, as non-stationary cameras, composition and detailed scripts were well in the future. But, for 1899, this is amazing because it introduces dissolves to go from one scene to another, a plot telling an actual story, as well as actual sets--things not used much around 1900. Most of the films circa 1900 were dull and short--only a minute or two long and featured people doing horribly mundane things--like feeding a baby or watering the lawn (seriously).
Now this story, while amazing for 1899, is not without many problems. The first portion that set the context for the story seems to either be missing or Méliès just assumed the audience understood it and skipped it. Also, while the first moments of the film are hand-colored, this disappears very quickly--perhaps it comes from piecing two or more copies together to make this film. And additionally, at times the people had no idea what to do, so they did some weird things--like have lots and lots of clocks and elves (why?!?!) as well as a somewhat impromptu dance number at the end. Rough? Yes, but still compared to what else was out there, this was the best sort of film available...period. For film historians, this and the rest of Méliès' films are a must.
By the way, to see just how far films had progressed, try also watching the 1914 version starring Mary Pickford. It stands up much better today and is a truly magnificent film even almost a hundred years later.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?