Released March 13, 2015
Directed by Kenneth Branagh
Screenplay by Chris Weitz
The story follows the fortunes of young Ella (lily James) whose merchant father remarries following the tragic death of her mother. Keen to support her loving father, Ella welcomes her new stepmother Lady Tremaine (Cate Blanchett) and her daughters Anastasia and Drizella into the family home. But when Ella's father suddenly and unexpectedly passes away, she finds herself at the mercy of a jealous and cruel new family. Ella could easily begin to lose hope. Yet, despite the cruelty inflicted upon her, Ella is determined to honor her mother's dying words and to "have courage and be kind." And then there is the dashing stranger (Richard Madden) she meets in the woods. Unaware that he is really a prince, not merely an employee at the palace, Ella finally feels she has met a kindred soul.
Cinderella is a lovely movie. Cinderella is told by her dying mother to have courage and be kind, and that’s the motto she lives by, even after her dad dies and her step-mother and step-sisters are just horrible to her. At least her reason for hanging around makes some sense. It’s pretty faithful to the 1950s cartoon version, which on the one hand is nice. It’s a sweet story with a happy ending, but I would have liked to see a little something different. I guess I’ve become used to re-tellings that twist the stories a bit.
Lily James is a nice choice for Cinderella. She’s not a tough girl, but she’s strong, she keeps going no matter what life throws at her and tries to be positive. Yes, she talks to animals. And I loved her first meeting with the prince. They were both sweet and kind and smiling. Cate Blanchett is perfect as the evil step-mother. She’s nasty, but at the same time you realize she’s been through a lot, too – and her clothes are just awesome, a touch of the 40s. I think the whole look of the movie – costumes, settings – was definitely one of its strong points. I could have done without the drawn out transformation of Ella’s dress to her ball gown, but sometimes fairy tales needs overdone parts, I guess.
If you’re looking for something new, this isn’t worth seeing. If you enjoy traditional tellings and wonderful costumes, It’s worth it.
On a side note, Helena Bonham Carter was the fairy godmother, a bit ditsy but full of sparkle. She also did the voice-overs that helped lead the story along quite well. I don’t know why I never recognize her though. I had no idea it was her until I was reading who the cast was later.
Thursday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, I love them all.