by Christine Urio
Between gigantic pumpkin carriages, looming clock towers, and delicate glass slippers, Disney has re-mastered its beloved classic, “Cinderella,” into a live action, feature film.
Directed by Kenneth Branagh and written by Chris Weitz, the 2015 movie stars actress Lilly James from “Downton Abbey” as Cinderella and features Cate Blanchett as the step mother, Richard Madden as the Prince, and Helena Bonham Carter, well known for her role as Bellatrix Lestrange in “Harry Potter,” as the fairy godmother.
Trailer for “Cinderella” (2015) (Video courtesy of Disney)
The movie stays true to the plot of previous versions, complete with flamboyant stepsisters, a glorious ball, and friendly mice.
After the death of her mother, Ella happily lives with her father until he remarries. Upon his death, she is reduced to a mere servant, but manages to remain positive as she lives by her mother’s words, “have courage and be kind.”
Riding off into the woods to momentarily escape her cruel reality, Ella unknowingly meets the Prince under the pseudonym of Kit. Sticking to his disguise, Kit shares that he is learning his “father’s trade” at the castle.
Upon receiving news that the castle is holding a ball for all the marriageable young ladies, Ella is not interested in competing for the Prince’s affections, but simply wants to see her friend Kit, who she knows works there.
Threatened by Ella’s genuine beauty and personality, her stepsisters destroy her dress. But with a little help from her Fairy Godmother, Ella has a magical evening. Enchanted by her once more, the Prince declares to find the mysterious girl after she runs off at midnight, leaving behind her glass shoe.
According to the Lincolnite, Disney has “taken to reimagining its classics as live-action adaptations with last year’s ‘Maleficent’ starting a new generation of films.”
Despite “Cinderella”’s tried and true plot, Branagh was able to spice up what could be a drab story through humor.
While there are no punch lines, the looks exchanged between characters and inflections on how the dialogue is delivered prove to be witty.
“Most of the humor usually stems from the personalities of the quirky Fairy Godmother or the stepsisters who are constantly fighting and competing with each other and wear an eccentric, ridiculous, and colorful wardrobe,” said movie reviewer Hayden Pittman.
The costumes are not the only visually stimulating aspect of the film, for there are many aesthetically pleasing scenes that were well executed—from the elegant ballroom, to the dress transformation and dueling scene.
The movie also stayed true to certain aspects of the original Grimm’s Fairytale version, which was refreshing to see a modern adaptation pay tribute to its roots.
When Ella’s father is preparing to leave for his journey, he asks each of the girls what they would like him to bring back. While the stepsisters ask for gaudy gifts, Ella simply asks for the first branch that knocks his hat.
While in the original story, Cinderella sticks the branch in her mother’s grave to grow, in this version, she states she wants it because the branch will remind him of her, and that when she receives the branch, that means he has returned safely.
The thing I found most interesting, however, was the commentary of the teenage girls sitting beside me in the theatre. As Ella emerges from behind the double doors and descends down the stairs in her blue gown at the ball, one of the girls whispered to her friend, “I hate her, she’s so thin,” which goes to show the unrealistic beauty standards that pop culture places upon women.
Whether “Cinderella” is an old friend, or this is your first encounter with her, this movie is a magical experience for young and old alike.