Exactly 65 years after the Disney classic ‘Cinderella’ enchanted audiences, a new and improved Ella arrives at the ball in shining and glittering fashion. In a string of recent remakes by Disney, ‘Cinderella’ is one of the best, reminding audiences why no one can tell a fairytale quite like they can.
Like so many other people, I grew up with Disney animated classics such as ‘Cinderella’ and I’m always feel a mixture of nervousness and excitement to see the finished product when they are reimagined. What I love most about this movie is that it isn’t a reimagining but more of a tribute to the 1950’s animated version. The film seems effortless in its filmmaking, owing credit to veteran actors such as Cate Blanchett, promising newcomers like Lily James, and an iconic director who brings a very English sensibility to the movie.
Kenneth Branagh brought a period piece feel to the movie. You get the feeling that you could be watching an adaptation of a Shakespeare play or Jane Austin book from the way the movie is assembled. British directors such as Branagh, Sam Mendes and many others create films that just feel effortless and flow so beautifully. I think this has a lot to do with the emphasis on theatre in the UK, creating a style of filmmaking that mimics this precision and flawlessness. Branagh has brought this style to many of the films he has worked on and I’ve made it my mission to watch as many of his movies as possible!
“Have courage, and be kind,” is one of the last things that Ella’s mother tells her before she tragically passes due to illness. This will be the driving force of ‘Cinderella’ and become an encouragement to our princess throughout life’s ups and downs. Ella exemplifies grace in this film with Lily James giving a new air to the character that was lacking in the animated version. This time she has a choice – a choice to be courageous, a choice to be kind, and a choice to choose the prince. In the animated version, it is expected that she will marry Prince Charming in the end, but this time around she is given the choice which is a nice change. It shows the young girls that will no doubt see this movie that women aren’t prizes to be won.
Speaking of princes, Richard Madden plays Robb St-SORRY- Kit AKA our Prince Charming. Originally the prince in ‘Cinderella’ was only known as Charming which I always found kind of dull. This time around, he is given the name Kit which is odd at first but then makes sense as the movie goes on. When Kit and Ella first meet, neither of them know who each other are, allowing Kit to drop his princely mannerisms and just be a “normal” person. Madden is nothing short of charming in this movie and the decision to color his costumes so that they would accentuate his piercing blue eyes was a great one. Also, would it be too much to ask for Disney to send me all the jackets that Richard Madden wore in this movie because I’m OB-SESSED!
Being bad has never looked so good with Cate Blanchett playing the wicked step mother, Lady Tremaine. This version of the character maintains all of the evil of the animated one, but the filmmakers have managed to humanize her this time around. She is given a backstory of love lost and then a desperate attempt to provide for her daughters by marrying another man. Unfortunately this man is Ella’s father and he dies as well, leaving her as a constant reminder of what Lady Tremaine has lost and what she stands to lose.
As you have probably noticed, effortless is the word that will be most used in this review so get ready for me to use it again. Cate Blanchett’s performance in this movie is so effortless but then again, doesn’t all of her performances. She makes this character feel human and almost like you are rooting for her in the end. Not so much hoping that she ruins Ella’s life, but to maybe see the error of her way. There is a really amazing moment when Ella forgives her right before she leaves with the prince and you can see Lady Tremaine crack a little bit. I just really loved this moment. Also when I say that it has never looked so good, I really do mean it because the costumes that Cate Blanchett is dressed in for this role are just exquisite! The entire time I was watching this movie, I kept noticing how every costume was so artfully crafted and no doubt cost more than my house. I smell an Oscar nomination for best costume design in the future.
The villains in the movie are very well dressed, but lets be honest, the only outfit that matters is the one that Ella wears to the ball. In a magical sequence complete with lizard footmen, mice horses, goose drivers, and of course a pumpkin coach, would not be complete without and over-the-top dress transformation with more swishing that though possible. What can I say, it is perfect! It looks like it was painted using water colors, shimmering according to the light and looks like it could be constructed of clouds. The dress flows and literally makes your jaw drop when she dances with the prince at the ball, creating the illusion that she is floating. This iconic dress becomes more impressive when you find out that 9 versions of the dress were made, each constructed by 18 tailors using 270 yards of fabric and 10,000 crystals. It took 500 hours to make each of version of the dress.
‘Cinderella’ harkens back to a much simpler time in Disney’s history. This movie will remind you why you fell in love with this brand of magic in the first place. You will be involuntarily smiling and find yourself transported to the days when you sat on that tan carpet in front of a tv and first saw Cinderella find her prince charming.
‘Cinderella’ receives 4.5 out of 5 film reels.
‘Cinderella’ was released on March 13th, 2015 and stars Lily James, Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham Carter, Hayley Atwell, Richard Madden, Nonso Anozie, Derek Jacobi, Holliday Grainger, Sophie McShera, and Stellan Skarsgård. The film is directed by Kenneth Branagh