How is it that a fairytale told centuries ago is still a source of entertainment and hope today? The original Cinderella story roots, date back as far as 1634, so 381 years later, Disney has given us a live-action adaption to it’s classic animation hit from 1950, and it’s brilliantly entertaining.
There is a misconception that Disney has based their films on the Brothers Grimm version of this fairytale, dating back to 1812. A quick Google search and you can actually read a digital version of that tale and find that it’s a lot darker than a Disney family story, like for example, the stepsisters cut of their toes and heel, for their foot to fit into the slipper! Sounds more like a SAW film. Truth is that Disney has always based their work on the lighter Charles Perrault version, dated from 1697.
Kenneth Branagh directs a classical Cinderlla with slight brushes of modern feminism. There are two moments that stand out, that are different to the original story, which aren’t really spoilers, because we all know how this ends. First variance is that Ella (Cinderella is the nick-name her stepsisters give her) meets The Prince before the ball, an opportunity for Ella to be herself, a woman, not a princess. Secondly, Ella is depicted as content and happy to move on, she isn’t depicted as sad and longing for her true love. These variances are refreshing and help ward-off criticism about this story’s relevance. Although Cinderlla played by Lily James is still a Dinsey Princess, whatever that means…
The film itself is wonderfully shot, with a never ending array of camera pans and crane shots, it does feel like a fairytale. There is little shock value in this film, everything is pristine. Ella’s ball gown had about 10,000 Swarovski Crystals, and the Glass Slipper looks amazing. Interestingly, the original slipper was never made out of glass. Some works depict it as being golden, while others are made out of fur.
To be applauded are the costumes and set designs. During the ball, Disney has sprinkled other of its Disney Princess dresses, and if you look carefully you can even see Ariel’s dress from The Little Mermaid. No doubt rehearsals for other upcoming live-action adaptions. I am sure Disney will not stop anytime soon, with their stellar CGI team and countless a-class directors to call on, Maleficent and Cinderella are just the beginning. The Jungle Book, Alice in Wonderland 2, Beauty and The Beast are to be expected soon.
Cate Blanchett steals the show with her intense performance, and proves again why she is such a versatile actress. Lily James is believable as Ella, but I am not sure if her constant smiling is. Regardless, the message is clear, be kind, be courageous, which is relevant today, when everyone is all about ME, and not OTHERS. In fact Kenneth Branagh describes his Cinderella as a cross between, Martin Luther King, Ghandi and Budda, perhaps a second viewing with this in mind, will help us warm to Ella more.
TRIVIA COOKIE: There was contrevoursy over how thin Lily James’ waist looks in the film, some going as far to state that they’d used CGI to make her that thin. James has clarified that this is not the case. In the film she wears a corset, plus add the poof from her dresses, and this perspective makes her waist look so thin.