Disney+ is set to debut a stunning new restoration of Walt Disney’s 1950 animated classic Cinderella on Aug. 25 during World Princess Week, as part of its centennial salute to Walt Disney Animation Studios and the ongoing Disney100 celebration. This all-new restoration of this beloved film represents the first time that the film will be available to stream in 4K, and it is the culmination of a multi-year effort involving the Walt Disney Studios Restoration and Preservation team, working closely with key players from Walt Disney Animation Studios. The result is a version of the film that is restored to its original grandeur, authentic to the artistic ambitions of the Studio’s creative team, and which looks and sounds better than ever. The restored film had its festival premiere earlier this year at the Berlin International Film Festival, where it had won a Golden Bear Award 52 years earlier in its international debut.
Commenting on the announcement, Kevin Schaeffer, director of restoration for Walt Disney Studios, said, “Working with our restoration team along with internal technical experts, outside vendors (like Mike Underwood at Picture Shop Hollywood) and advisors from Walt Disney Animation Studios, we were able to make this 1950 classic look and sound better than ever. We began the process by pulling the original nitrate negative from the Library of Congress, and scanning the successive exposure color records in 4K. We then did a cleaning pass to remove dirt and as many artifacts as possible. The current available restoration tools allowed us to produce a sharper and higher quality image than previous efforts. To make sure we didn’t lose any of the detail or artistic choices of the filmmakers, we turned to Disney Animation legends and authorities, including Michael Giaimo and Eric Goldberg.”
The input from seasoned Disney artists and animation experts Giaimo and Goldberg proved to be a winning combination. Working with Dorothy McKim (special projects and 2-D animation producer for Walt Disney Animation Studios), and Bob Bagley (digital imaging manager for Disney Animation), the team was able to restore and preserve the rich colors, contrast, and accuracy of the original cels and artwork.
Giaimo, production designer on the upcoming 2023 Disney animated feature, Wish, as well as the two Frozen films and Pocahontas, noted, “It was an honor to work on this restoration with Eric, and to really celebrate the original intent and classic Disney aesthetic of those great artists who worked with Walt, notably the great Mary Blair, and to get that right level of depth and saturation.
Goldberg, one of the all-time animation greats and veteran Disney directing animator, director and mentor to new generations of artists, added, “Working with Mike to restore this film was really a labor of love. We both really love the film, and felt strongly that we had to preserve it. Viewers watching this restoration will see more clarity, but they will also see more subtlety. They’ll see differences in color from shot to shot, and discover how one color works with another. Mike and I knew what the film was supposed to look like, and it took a lot just getting back to Cinderella having dusty blonde hair and a silver dress. I’m proud that the Studio felt it was important to get this restoration right, and trusted a handful of us to do that.”
Originally released in 1950, Cinderella was hailed for its stylish and experimental look, sophisticated and expressive animation, and delightful storytelling. It was a major hit at the time of its initial release, earned three Oscar nominations, and rescued the Studio from a dire financial situation brought on the challenges of the war years. The film was directed by Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske and Clyde Geronimi. The voice cast features Ilene Woods, Eleanor Audley, and Verna Felton. The songs are by Mack David, Jerry Livingston and Al Hoffman.