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Cinderella: One reel of approximately 900 feet, December 22, 1911.
Energetic cinematic pacing and intimacy show rapidly improving narrative technique and realism well beyond the limitations of the stage.
Adapted from the fairy tale by Charles Perrault. Directed by George O. Nichols.
Print source: British Film Institute/National Film and Television Archive, 14 minutes, 23 seconds.
Cast: Florence LaBadie (Cinderella), Harry Benham (the prince), Anna Rosemond, Frank H. Crane, Alphonse Ethier, Isabelle Daintry.
Original music composed and performed by Andrew Crow (thanhouser.org/people/crowa.htm.)
Commentary by Professor Judith Buchanan, Professor at University of York
An elaborately mounted version of the well-known fairy tale is interrupted by just a few summarizing intertitles. Although in-camera trick photography is important for the story, it is rather conventional, having been introduced over ten years earlier by French filmmaker Georges Méliès. Costumes, sets, and locations make it a visual feast, and some stylistic skill is used with brief shots and cross cutting to quicken the pace as Cinderella flees at midnight.
The intense competition between film producers of the time is indicated by the near-simultaneous release of this one-reel version by Thanhouser, and the release, one week later, of a three-reel version by Selig. A holiday release was just as important then as now — Cinderella was produced the previous summer but released at Christmas.
The next step for Thanhouser was the move to multi-reel features. The release following Cinderella was an adaptation of Rider Haggard's She, Thanhouser's first two-reel release.
This film is available on DVD from Thanhouser Company Film Preservation, Inc. at thanhouser.org.