One of the many types of movies shown at the Fantasia International Film Festival are animated films. I’m generally not a big fan of animated films other than the Warner Brothers Batman releases, but I decided to give the Italian made Cinderella the Cat (Gatta Cenerentola) a go, and I’m glad I did!
A wealthy genius widowed ship builder Vittorio Basile (Mariano Rigillo) with a young daughter, Mia aka Cinderella the Cat, has just finished his crowning achievement after building the most high tech and advanced cruise ship ever constructed, the Megaride. Vittorio plans to marry the beautiful singer, Angelica Carannante (Maria Pia Calzone), but she and her secret lover and drug dealer, Salvatore Lo Giusto (Massimiliano Gallo), have a plot against him in order to get their hands on his money. Vittorio’s young daughter, Mia, is the key to the whole plan, and she must suffer for years before it can come to fruition.
In Italy, filmmakers producing animated films frequently use fairy tales as inspiration in their projects. Directors Alessandro Rak (L’arte della felicità), Ivan Cappiello, Marino Guarnieri, and Dario Sansone’s Cinderella the Cat is a great take on the Cinderella mythos. The animation style is absolutely stunning, at times looking like a moving water colour painting with bright, vivid colors in the beginning when times are good, to a more stylized, high-end cut scene from a video game when times are dark. The visuals are fluid and the angles are quite unique.
The ship seems to have a life of its own, constantly recording events and playing back others with random holograms. The vessel learns the longer people are there, and the holograms begin to interact with the emotional states of the characters who frequent it. As time jumps forward after the opening events, the state of the surrounding city reflects the pain and desperation of Mia, now seventeen years old and on the cusp of her eighteenth birthday.
The story is set in Naples, Italy, a place known for its corruption and decay, as well as a major port for shipping, which is very well captured by the unique animation and cynical tone of the picture. The filmmakers have updated the storyline by making one of the evil stepsisters a transvestite brother, which is handled naturally and very well. All the characters are unique and distinct, even more so than the original Disney version that most would remember from their childhood. Cinderella the Cat starts as a cut and dry, good-verses-bad film, but slowly evolves to a deeper narrative on how events in life can change people and make them reflect on the decisions that have brought them to where they are now.
The film is peppered with some musical numbers by some of the characters that foreshadows their feelings about themselves and what they plan to accomplish. Being in Italian, these musical scenes were well performed, and fit surprisingly well in this film. The movie is no way a musical, and these scenes are kept to a minimum, only serving to drive the character’s storylines forward, and keeping to stage performances during the party scenes.
I was quite surprised on how much I enjoyed this film, considering animated movies in general are really not my thing. I actually watched it a couple of times, and would probably watch it again. Although it is animated and contains some memorable songs, Cinderella the Cat is definitely not a movie for children. It is rife with cursing violence and some quite suggestable scenes. If you like beautifully animated movies that have a European feel, then I would highly recommend this one for you. Cinderella the Cat takes the beloved story we all know and spices it up for an adult audience with an original feel.