Walt Disney’s original animated classic “Cinderella” was visually stunning and masterfully animated. Based on a fairy tale from Charles Perrault, and with beautiful songs and orchestration, it won over theater audiences and helped cement the Disney Studios as the leader in feature animation.
So when news came out that Disney was remaking the movie with a live action cast, the question was why? When I heard that Kenneth Branagh would be directing, I felt a bit better. But it was costume designer Sandy Powell’s costumes that really sealed the deal for me. Even if Cinderella was a 2 hour parade of Powell’s gorgeous costumes, I would have left satisfied.
The good news, is that the rest of the movie works too. It is a refreshing take on the fairy tale that we all know and love with lessons we can all take to heart. Branagh revisited the original Perrault fairy tale and incorporated some more modern motivations to make the film more relevant for today’s audiences. The story actually works better once Cinderella (Lily James) has a little agency.
That agency is delivered to Ella by her parents. First by her mom (played suitably by Hayley Atwell) who tells her to “have courage and be kind,” and by her father who teachs her the strength to endure. She’ll need both of these in spades once her parents die (at least both mom and dad die in this one instead of just mom). Actually dying parents is a fairly strong theme in this movie, something to be aware of if your kids have recently lost any one close to them.
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