Tuesday, March 17, 2015
Disney's Cinderella was one of the first animated movies that I knew by heart. When my grandmother bought her first VHS player (actually it was a Sony Betamax -- remember those?), Cinderella was one of the few movies she bought. I was about 7 years old. My cousins and I watched it every weekend for years (or at least it seemed like years!). I memorized each and every line of dialogue and song.
Cinderella is such a big part of my childhood memories that I wasn't sure I would like the new live action film, Cinderella, that Disney recently released in movie theaters. I needn't have worried -- Disney pulled it off, giving audiences a live action fairy tale that will enchant sophisticated modern audiences. Here are five reasons why:
True to the original -- but not a carbon copy
The story is pretty much the same, so you don't have to worry about spoilers. Where the new movie differs is in emphasizing different parts of the story. The new movie gives a lot more time to the backstory, showing Cinderella (or Ella, as she was called) growing up with her mother and father. Seeing Ella's enchanted childhood makes her subsequent misfortunes even more heartbreaking. Also, the mice aren't given as big a role -- they don't talk like they did in the cartoon, but they still have personalities that will make the audience laugh.
The costumes are probably my favorite thing about the movie. They were amazing to look at, so colorful, elegant, and timeless. The wardrobes of the main female characters were perfectly suited to their personalities -- fluffy and flouncy for the fairy godmother, colorful and fussy for the stepsisters, severely elegant for the stepmother (Cate Blanchett as Lady Tremaine looked amazing!!), and soft and flowing for Cinderella.
The original Cinderella is generally believed to have been set in France, and judging from the presence of horse-drawn carriages and powdered wigs, it's sometime in the 1700's -- so everyone you see (like in the original cartoon) would have been white. The new Cinderella film features a more diverse cast; I was happy to see people of Asian, African, and Mediterranean descent throughout the film.
Kit, not Charming
I always hated the name Prince Charming, and I was so happy that the new movie actually gave the prince a decent name! Kit was played by Richard Madden, who in my opinion wasn't exactly swoon-worthy, but played his part really well. I'm glad the writers gave him an actual personality, more like the modern Disney princes than the stuffed-shirt princes in Snow White or the original Cinderella.
A great lesson learned
The original Cinderella was all about having faith and dreams coming true. The new Cinderella movie has a far more substantial -- and far better -- message. Right from the beginning of the movie, Cinderella's mother teaches her to "Have Courage and Be Kind". This is the mantra that Cinderella carries with her throughout the movie. It guides her actions and thoughts, and it's what ultimately sees her through. I can't think of any better motto to have!
Disclosure: I was invited to a press screening of the movie for review purposes. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.