Disney has been revisiting many of its classic tales with new twists. Starting with Maleficient , the classic tale of Sleeping Beauty was created into a live action film from the perspective of the evil witch. Following Maleficient is the Cinderella tale and set in the next few years is the highly anticipated revist of Beauty and the Beast. The live action Cinderella does not deviate from the original tale by telling it from the evil step mothers perspective. Instead certain embellishments were made for the retelling which we will touch on as we go.
The film opens with Ella as a baby with her mother and father. The obvious deviation is the addition of the mother figure. As noted in many Disney films, the mother is often casually removed from the story. Ella’s mother is very care free and encourages Ella’s innocence and imagination. When Ella’s mother suddenly falls ill with an unknown affliction she parts with further encouragement and the slogan for Ella’s life “have courage and be kind” is then mentioned repeatedly throughout the film. The phrase is not the most profound or lyrically pleasing, but holds value in its simplicity. Still, I was a bit disappointed they could not come up with something a bit better? Ella stays true to her mother’s guidance even in the face of the cruelty of her new step mother, played by Cate Blanchette, and her new step sisters. I can’t help but think that things would have played out differently if the events occurred during present day. I imagine something along the lines of CNN headlines and court room media circuses. Blanchette preformes beautifully as her role of Lady Tremaine, the evil step mother. The extent of her cruelty is cut short; however, despite the additional 30 minutes of film compared to the original cartoon tale. The cartoon invokes the sadness and anger towards the evil step mother’s injustices, where as the live action film plays out in a more scripted fashion. Ella’s father, a loving father portrayed with a sense of adventure and whimsy in his business travels is more memorable for his awkward blubbering than anything else. After the departure and death of her father, she assumes the role of the housekeeper.
The details within the house, the clothing and accessories are the most memorable and notable parts of the film. I instantly fell in love with the style, landscape and setting for Ella’s home. The clothing and accessories held more of a whimsical and theatrical appearance when paired with the period setting. The most iconic aspects of the Cinderella tale are indeed her glass slippers and her ball gown. The 2015 glass slipper was created by Swarovski and creates a beautifully faceted structure with a slight rainbow effect. The finishing touch, and slightly to my chagrin, is a golden butterfly.
Despite this, I have always wanted a glass slipper replica and the faceted appearance is much more appealing than the original sleek plastic look. (P.s. I am not opposed to overwhelmingly generous gifts such as the above, ahem)
Interestingly enough we had a glimpse of a very similiar slipper 3 years prior to the films release. Back in 2012, Disney approached the famous shoe designer Christian Louboutin for the Diamond Edition release of the original film. Louboutin created a beautiful pair of peep toe heels featuring butterfly accents as seen below.
Disney also approached other famous designers a few years later for the film to create a collection of new twists on the glass slipper.
The only forgivable pair being the Jimmy Choo’s (top row, third pair).
The butterfly theme carries over to the ball gown where the top ruffles are speckled with the somewhat gawdy insects. I’m willing to accept the butterfly on the glass slipper, but the dress was too much of a disappointment for me. With the creation of our new ball gown, in comes our new fairy god mother. Played by Helena Bonham Carter, the fairy god mother enters as a disfigured wretch begging for food and milk. This is more reminiscent to Beauty and the Beast than of Cinderella. The fairy god mother then transforms into a shimmering fairy in an enormous gown and overflowing cleavage. The film takes things a step further by using a goose as the carriage driver and lizards as footmen.
The Prince, played by Richard Madden, has beautiful blue eyes but his attractiveness varies with scenes and lighting and is ultimately rather forgettable.
Revisiting a beloved classic tale can be very tricky and as with most things it is difficult to please everyone. Despite some of the very memorable touches I find myself in the category of those difficult to please and sadly unpleased with this film. It is not a movie that you would watch twice which is in complete contrast to the worn out VHS’s of old.
Cinderella 2015 is a great movie to watch with your kids as they are too young to notice many of the disappointing aspects of the film. They are also not tainted by the perfection of the original film, putting a damper on our nostalgic expectations.