Opens Friday, March 13 – Rated PG
I took my children to see a screening of Cinderella (2015) this week and I am so glad I did. It was a fantastic real (non-animated), straightforward re-telling of a Disney classic. Directed by Kenneth Branagh and written by Chris Weitz, the movie first shows Ella as a 10 year old girl living a happy life with her parents. As we see, both her parents eventually die and Ella (Lily James) is left to live with her “evil” stepmother (Cate Blanchett) and “goofy/clownish” stepsisters (Holliday Grainger and Sophie McShera). Living under the roof of her stepfamily, Ella is treated like a lowly servant and renamed “Cinderella” by her stepsisters, because of the cinder (ashes) found on her face one morning. As her mother was dying, Cinderella was left with the encouraging words of “have courage and be kind.” Cinderella kept these words to her heart and that is how she got through her days in the evil household.
One day, Cinderella meets a man in the woods, but she has no idea it is the Prince (Richard Madden). The Prince is smitten by her so in the hopes of meeting her again, he throws a ball for every maiden to attend. As in the classic story, Cinderella’s stepfamily tries to prevent Cinderella from attending the ball. Eventually she makes it to the ball with the help of her fairy godmother (Helena Bonham Carter), who first presents herself as a poor, women looking for food. In the most dramatic and magical scene of the movie, the fairy godmother turns a pumpkin into a stagecoach, Cinderella’s mouse friends into the horse and lizards into the footmen. The remainder of the movie follows the story true to nature with Cinderella leaving her glass slipper behind at the ball and the Prince determined to find its owner. As a twist, with the help of the Stepmother, the Grand Duke tries to prevent the Prince from finding Cinderella. Although, as expected, the movie ends with the Prince reuniting with Cinderella.
The new Cinderella is a beautifully shown story of a classic. It is sweet and captivating and provides more detail about the classic story than ever before. We finally learn about what happened to Cinderella’s parents at the beginning and we hear about what happens to her step-family at the end. Don’t go in expecting a strong a bold Cinderella, go in expecting a sweet but courageous young girl who finds her true love at the end.