The themes in Cinderella have been retold for hundreds of years. The familiar folk tale about a young girl who loses both parents and ends up in the care of a “wicked” stepmother and two horrid stepsisters before being swept up in a rags to riches story courtesy of a Fairy Godmother, a handsome Prince and a pair of see through slippers, has had audiences captivated for generations.
What’s especially enjoyable about this retelling is how genuinely old fashioned the whole affair is.
Never veering far from the rote script we came to accept as gospel back in the 1950 animated Walt Disney feature film, the 2015 live-action version follows essentially the same pattern woven into the fabric of our collective consciousness.
Director Kenneth Branagh follows on from the sumptuous visual feast he served up in his excellent 2011 feature film Thor, with detailed set design, gorgeous costumes, great casting, a minimum of CGI and effects and good old fashioned acting from Cate Blanchett as the Wicked Stepmother, Downton Abbey’s Lily James in the title role, Game of Thrones Richard Madden as the Prince, and Helena Bonham Carter as a fabulous Fairy Godmother.
It is important to mention HBC, not only because her presence adds some necessary quirk to the overall feel of the film, but also because it was her turn in husband Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, and the enormous box office success of that film, which set the ball rolling for this update on a Disney Classic.
Originally slated to be helmed by Mark Romanek, who was apparently punted for steering the project in a direction deemed too dark for Disney, (interestingly he has since given us the Taylor Swift video for Shake It Off), Branagh doesn’t muck around in delivering an thoroughly enjoyable, entertaining and thoughtful Fairytale.
With the oft-repeated mantra to have “courage and kindness” first handed down from her beloved mother and embedded in her psyche, Cinderella is able to overcome the ghastliest life, banished to attic of her family’s estate and forced into menial labour at the behest of her reprehensible step-family, she refuses to succumb to the stupidity, arrogance and bitterness that she is faced with at every turn.
I’m blessed to been able to take my 7 year old daughter as my date to the film, and she was enchanted and enthralled for the entire film.