Ramblings about entertainment, lifestyle and travel
Last weekend I was invited to the first screening of the new, live-action take on the famous fairy tale by Charles Perrault, Cinderella. The screening took place at the ODEON in Leicester Square in London and was so in demand, that the Disney team had to open other screens to accommodate everyone. It is a classic after all.
The movie itself followed the screening of computer-animated short film Frozen Fever, directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, which is a sequel to the 2013 Walt Disney hit (or the constant repeat of Let It Go wherever one goes). Something I will share with you later.
The live-action version, directed by Kenneth Branagh, borrows many elements from the classic we all grew up with, but it does also come with its own messages and quirky takes on the fairy tale. Similar to the classic, Cinderella ends up as an orphan after both her mother and soon after her father are taken ill and die. The now alone Ella (played by Lily James) finds herself stuck and at the mercy of her wicked stepmother, Lady Tremaine, (played by the brilliant Cate Blanchett) and stepsisters Anastasia (played by Holliday Grainger) and Grizella (played by Sophie McShera), who slowly but surely reduce her from sister to personal assistant and ‘servant girl’. However, despite her misfortune, Ella doesn’t give up hope, following her mother’s mantra ‘have courage, be kind’. One day, when it all becomes too much for young Ella, she escapes into the forest on her horse, where she meets the dashing prince (Richard Madden), unaware of who he really is, claiming to be an apprentice of sorts. An invitation to the palace ball gives Ella hope that she might reunite with the stranger, but her dreams are shattered when her stepmother prevents her from going. But true to the original, all is not lost when help arrives in the form of a beggar (played by none other than Helena Bonham Carter), who not only transforms Ella into a princess, but does so with her rather unique style.
Now it’s important to remember that the film is targeted at a younger audience than myself, so it’s probably not one I’d pay to see at the cinema for just myself. Having said that, there were a few kids in the audience with us and I could tell how much fun they were having. In fact, I myself was having a brilliant time. The film is just close enough to the original to be considered a newer version of it, but also has some new and unique angles, as well as an interesting explanation for the name ‘Cinderella’, brought to life by the fantastic cast. Personally, I would have liked to see Lily James play Ella with a bit more grit, as she really is just sooo nice throughout the entirety of the film. I think there could’ve been periods where she could’ve fought back a bit more, but overall I think she was the right choice for the role. Somewhat expectantly, both Cate Blanchett and Helena Bonham Carter were made for their roles. Cate plays a brilliant stepmother, being manipulative and deceiving in the beginning and outright evil in the end. The stepsisters are hideously dramatic, dumb and daft, but that’s exactly what they should be. As ever, Helena is fantastic. She is quirky, loveable, funny and comforting, but at the same time seems to be a bit confused and just trying her luck, making do with what she’s got rather than giving up. This in itself is another important message the story conveys.
The prince (Richard Madden) also happens to be incredibly kind, determined and not afraid of upsetting the norm. He played the role well and had a great chemistry with Lily James. I’m not entirely sure about his slick back hair, but that wouldn’t be down to him in any case.
Throughout the film, Cinderella repeats her mantra, which is a great message for the younger audience as well as bringing across other messages, including ‘just because it’s what’s done, doesn’t mean it’s what should be done’ during her first encounter with the prince.
Overall, I had a really great time. Sure it’s not one I would’ve sought out to see for my own interests, but perhaps I should’ve. It did make me feel like a little girl again, enchanted and fully immersed in the fairy tale. It’s definitely one I’d take my niece to see or once out on DVD on a cosy Sunday. If you have kids, you should definitely go and see it at the cinema as the dress alone will inspire a number of dress up parties.
Cinderella is out in the US on March 13 and in the UK on March 27.