Please be aware that spoilers abound below. If you haven’t yet seen the film, read at your own risk.
I’ve been looking forward to seeing Disney’s live action Cinderella for a while–for me, that usually means once they put out more than teaser trailers, and you can get an idea of what’s actually going to go on in a movie. While the initial shots of a glass slipper were nice, I was quite ambivalent, as we didn’t know how the material was being treated.
Once the more substantial trailers came out, however, I was looking forward to seeing it. I am a fantasy girl, and thus have an interest in fairy tales. Lily James and Cate Blanchett are of course also great draws for the movie–Lily’s portrayal of Rose on Downton Abbey is delightful, and Blanchett has the caliber to pull off Lady Tremain. We saw it this past weekend, and I can equivocally say they both deliver in the film.
The film is a lovely example of Disney’s fairy tales, with a slightly more modern influence than most of their classics. The characterization is what you’d expect, and they did try to explain why Lady Tremain is the way she is, although Ever After did a much better job of it in just one scene. However, the world they created for the movie is clearly fairy-tale in the sense that goodness and virtue is always raised up (eventually) over deceit and negativity. There is much to do with talking to animals–well done, I think, and much less singing.
Most of the costuming and sets were quite lovely. I’m not a fan of the butterflies on the blue ball gown, or the waspie-style waist, but the rest of it was quite lovely. Lady Tremain also had some quite striking outfits.
The score mostly didn’t jump out at me, although I did see it’s by Patrick Doyle (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Thor, Brave). There is only 1 sung song in the film, which is Lavender’s Blue. A huge part of me dearly wants to believe this is because the creators have read The Ordinary Princess, a fairy tale by M. M. Kay (The Far Pavilions). It is my favorite fairy tale book and if you haven’t read it, you should (it’s out of print, but well worth the effort of finding it). That song is all over this book, and the sections are even titled with lines of the song. And Lily James can sing, which is even better.
Many features are included from Disney’s original animated film, such as names, how characters relate to one another, and quite a bit of characterization. In almost every movie I’ve seen, the stepsisters are a source of comedy, and this is no exception. Sophie McShera sings horribly as Drisella, sometimes quite a feat when one can sing well. I would have liked to see them dressed less like crazy people, however, considering their quite discerning mother.
Two further notes here. Disney has finally done their equivalent to a henshin sequence, and holy carriage, Batman! She arrives at the ball in a carriage made of nothing but gold and glass, an no one bats an eye. It would be have been all over the palace on no time with all the guards around.
Overall, I think they hit the right balance for the film, humanizing it a little more while still keeping it very fairy tale. There are scenes in which people break down, yet it doesn’t loose its’ air of virtue and goodness. I’m not sure if I’m describing it sufficiently, so do go see it yourself if you haven’t already.