“Have courage and be kind.”
Words to live by.
When you think “Disney”, you think beautiful princesses, charming princes, happily ever afters, a dash of magic, and maybe a dusting of fairy dust. And it seems that Disney is keeping the remake momentum going after having released “Maleficent” and “Into the Woods“. That having said, while “Maleficent” scored big points with me, largely due to the fact that it was based off the 1959 Disney classic “Sleeping Beauty” and its excellent casting choices, the same can’t be said about “Into the Woods“.
So herein lies the question – did Disney redeem themselves with “Cinderella”? Can Disney sweep aspiring Disney princesses off their feet once again with a fairy tale that has been remade and remade over and over again, and have been done to death?
For starters, I was already swooning over “Cinderella” ever since I first saw the trailer back in November 2014. The generous trailer spanned 2:41 minutes long, offering everyone more than is needed for a first glimpse. Let me just say that the “Cinderella” trailer doesn’t leave any stone unturned because it more or less introduces every single character you’ll see in the movie!
Unlike Disney’s 1950 animated film, the movie opens with a little backstory on how Cinderella came to be, introducing a young Ella (played by Eloise Webb), her parents, while putting a spotlight on their happy family. Ella’s mother (played by Hayley Atwell) is a warm and loving personality, and above all a woman with quite a voice- qualities and values which you’d later see the older Ella (played by Lily James) actually possesses.
Alas, tragedy strikes and her mother takes ill but right before Ella loses her mother, she makes Ella promise to live her life according to a simple motto:
Have courage and be kind.
Years after, her father (played by Ben Chaplin) would remarry cold and cruel Lady Tremaine (played by Cate Blanchett), a woman who already has 2 ridiculous-looking, obnoxious daughters named Anastasia (played by Holliday Grainger) and Drizella (Sophie McShrea).
Not long after, Ella’s father aka the family’s sole breadwinner would also tragically pass away, leaving Lady Tremaine no choice but to live economically and hence, dismissing the household’s staff and leaving Ella to pick up after everyone.
As you would guess, they would later nickname her “Cinderella”.
Just in case you were wondering, yes, Disney retained their names from the original “Cinderella” of the 1950s. Including the names of Cinderella’s mice friends e.g. Gus-Gus, Jaq. Actually, they’ve only kinda tweaked a few things. One was the way in which Cinderella and Prince Charming (played by Richard Madden) would meet – and it’s not at the royal ball.
Interestingly, in this film, Prince Charming would also have an actual name!
Anyway, the story then progresses according to the tale as old as time. The King and the Grand Duke organise a ball in an effort to find a suitable wife for Prince Charming. Cinderella hears of the news, wants to attend, and fixes up a gown that belonged to her late mother, only to have it ripped apart by Lady Tremaine. And then comes the other movie tweak – the Fairy Godmother (played by Helena Bonham Carter).
As seen in the picture above, the character is much larger but also much younger-looking than you would’ve imagined. Especially if you’ve previously based her appearance off the 1950 “Cinderella”.
But I’ll let you discover all of that for yourselves because I don’t want to give away too much ;)
I must say though that the film most certainly belonged to Lily James. She stole the show and my heart with her fair skin, golden blond hair, million-dollar smile, and her spotless pure, innocent, and good portrayal of Ella. Or rather, Cinderella. Why, she even looks stunning in blue, a necessity (in my opinion) if she’s going to play a Disney princess who’s famed for her powder blue ball gown.
It’s safe to say that she could’ve, might’ve, probably outshone Richard Madden (hello Robb Stark!). Oops.
Cate Blanchett, on the other hand, is wicked. Best known as Galadriel in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy as well as “The Hobbit“, it was hard to see her as anything else other than an elven “Lady of Light” at first, but she managed to nail it because in this version of “Cinderella”, the haughty and cruel stepmother gets more script than the 1950 animated film version.
Trust me when I say that you will get to know her (the character) a little bit better, complete with a backstory and all that complicated jazz.
All in all, “Cinderella” director Kenneth Branagh has definitely done good with this one. I wouldn’t have been able to imagine a better retelling of the 1950 “Cinderella” film I watched over and over again when I was a kid. In fact, I’m still mesmerised! Excuse me, I think I might just go watch it again ;)
Here’s the trailer:
Disney’s live-action “Cinderella” will be released in a cinema near you on 13th March 2015.