Directed By: Kenneth Branagh
Screenplay By: Chris Weitz
Starring: Helena Bonham Carter, Lily James, Richard Madden, Cate Blanchett
There are many similarities between this live action adaptation and the 1950 animated version. This film begins with a glimpse into young Ella’s life before both of her parents passed away. They instilled in her the importance of being kind and believing in magic. With both of her parents dying (at different stages of Ella’s life), the film’s cheery opening takes a darker turn. When her stepmother, Lady Tremaine, and her wicked daughters learn of her father’s death, they begin to treat Ella horribly. One of the main differences in this film is that we also get a glimpse into the prince’s life and his relationship with his father, the King. Upon meeting Ella in the forest one day, the prince (Kit – who Ella believes to simply be an apprentice) urges his father to have an open invitation for all available women to the royal ball. While his father and the Grand Duke insist that he marry a princess for advantage, Kit just wants to see Ella again. When Lady Tremaine forbids Ella from attending the ball, she receives the bippity boppity magic from her fairy godmother and sets off to find her friend, the apprentice. When she arrives, the prince dismisses the woman chosen for his first dance, and invites Ella, revealing his true identity as the prince. They quickly fall in love as he shows her the palace grounds and she runs off at the stroke of midnight before the magic wore off, leaving behind the famous glass slipper. For whatever the reason, even when the magic wears off, the glass slippers don’t return to their original form. Either way, Ella hides the remaining glass slipper under the floorboard in the attic. Kit’s father grows ill and, after seeing his son’s love for Ella before passing away, tells him not to marry for advantage and instead, to marry for love. They arrange a kingdom-wide search for the girl whose foot fits the forgotten glass slipper. When Ella hears the news, she runs to the attic to find the one she hid, only to find Lady Tremaine holding it in her hand. Realizing it was her at the ball, she locks Ella in the attic, but when Gus Gus and the mice unlock the window, the royal entourage hears Ella singing and realizes there’s another woman in the home. The prince reveals himself and is reunited with Ella, an honest country girl who loves him. The two are married and live happily ever after, as we all know.
The subtle changes and additions to this adaptation were welcomed because seeing Ella with her parents gave a bit more of a back story to her relationship with them and the struggle she faced in order to be kind to Lady Tremaine and her minion daughters. Seeing a bit of the prince’s relationship with his father was also a great addition. The casting in this film was excellent and even though they didn’t cast a well known starlet to play Cinderella, Lily James truly delivers. Her chemistry with Richard Madden was noticeable and adorable, and Cate Blanchett was the perfect person to play the evil Lady Tremaine.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with this film. I thought the dresses at the royal ball could’ve been a bit nicer, but I suppose they were borderline hideous in order to make Cinderella’s beautiful blue gown stand out even more. As mentioned, the casting was great, the chemistry between the characters was excellent and the overall production of the film was beautiful. I can honestly say I give it 4 out of 5 stars. – Kristin (@kristin0409)
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