Sunday, March 29, 2015

Cinderella (2015)

Cinderella as a servant in her own home

Dreams come true

Arriving at the Ball
Meeting the Prince at the Ball
Dancing at the Ball
Fairy Godmother
Ella's Mother
Ella's Mother: Have courage and be kind. 
~from Cinderella (2015)
Too often in films, fairy tales are retold to fit current agendas, especially the feminist agenda. Snow White becomes a warrior and Sleeping Beauty's bad fairy becomes a martyr of male cruelty. This is one reason why Disney's new blockbuster Cinderella is a refreshing change from the usual movie fare. Shakespearean actress Lily James brings both grace and innocence to the part of Ella, a heroine who finds strength in kindness, courage and forgiveness. It made me fall in love with the old fairy tale all over again, retold on a grand and magical scale. Amid the enchanting and lavish sets and costumes, the golden rococo coach stands out as particularly entrancing, as well as the glass slippers, which look like Waterford crystal.

Director Kenneth Branagh does not apologize for his traditional version. According to The Independent:
In an era of revisionist fairytales such as Frozen and Maleficent, it might be a surprise to find that Branagh’s take on the story of Cinders and her glass slipper is determinedly traditionalist. 'I don’t find myself so exercised by a desperation to be new,' he says, pointing out that when you mix a fresh cast with costumes and production design by, respectively, triple Oscar-winners Sandy Powell and Dante Ferretti, 'all of these things create a new energy'.

And while the Charles Perrault fairytale has already been immortalized on screen by Disney’s own 1950 animated feature, taking it on held no fear for Branagh, given his experience in re-interpreting Shakespeare. 'I choose to be inspired by things that have been done well in the past,' he says. 'So, I don’t worry about being compared, because I think that does paralyze you.' (Read more.)
Cinderella is perhaps the most universal of fairy tales, one that has variations in many cultures over the course of several centuries. The experience of having a stepmother was not uncommon in the days when women sometimes died in childbirth and so the story of the "Cinder Maid" resonated deeply with past generations. Today, with the high rate of divorce and remarriage, young people often find themselves living in the same house with a step-parent, which even in the best situations can offer challenges for everyone involved.

On the most basic level, Cinderella is a tale of injustice and suffering inflicted upon an innocent by an older person whose job should have been to nurture and protect. The innocent is aided by forces from beyond this world, leading to final vindication; in this manner the story fulfills the very natural hope of those who have endured any type of material misery or abuse. As is the case with other fairy tales, the older versions are darker and much, more violent, with the triumph of the heroine being the result of struggle, not merely handed to her on a platter. The wicked stepsisters are grotesquely punished in the older tales whereas in the newer renditions they are shown mercy.

The new film makes many points about the nature of family life and the bond between parents and their children. Because she had a loving childhood, Ella does not pity herself. The love of her parents stays with her even after they die. Rather, she pities her stepmother and stepsisters, who are unhappy in spite of their material well-being. As for the Prince, because he comes from a loving and happy parental union as did Ella, he is determined to marry for love, which fuels his search for the mysterious maiden.

The Prince

Stepmother and Stepsisters


1 comment:

julygirl said...

This film gives us hope that there are still people out there who want to produce something of hope and beauty for both adults and children. Bravo Kenneth Branagh and company!