Last week I went to see the live action version of Cinderella. I liked it that much I’m hoping to go see it again before its cinema run finishes. As a fan of Disney and especially Cinderella I will admit I was nervous at seeing it. I’d basically not watched anything much to do with it in case they’d changed my vision of the fairy tale. If anything I think it was better because it was more in depth and filled out. This is great for us that watched the Disney version as kids and completely understood it yet as we grew up we wanted to know more about Cinderella’s life. What happened to her father? Was there more to her meeting her Prince?
This film fills these gaps so well that you’ll find yourself crying. I cried in a cinema packed with kids. Her mum dies, there’s tears. Her dad doesn’t return, tears. The King tells the Prince he can’t marry a commoner, floods of tears. Kenneth Branagh who directed managed to bring a very old story up to date yet keep it magical and innocent for an entire audience. It’s the first time in a while I’ve seen a wide age range in one showing. That in itself is magical and this is what Disney does for us. The fantastic cast may have had a hand too with the likes of Hayley Atwell, Cate Blanchett, Derek Jacobi and Helena Bonham Carter as the Fairy Godmother.
Cinderella’s mum (Attwell) tells her to “Have courage and be kind.” It feels like one of those short phrases that are a life lesson. Lily James who plays Cinderella captures this phrase in all she does in the film. It’s sometimes difficult to be kind in some situations like in the film and yet Cinderella follows through showing the younger audience and us older people that it can be done. In a strange way it was nice to see her break down in private so we see she’s still human just like us.
The romance of the film reminds us so much of the 1950’s original version. There’s
still a barrier in the way between royalty and commoners and yet when they set eyes on each other all that matters is love. There’s no point hiding when matters of the heart are at stake, just as Prince Charming (Richard Madden) proves. Cinderella and the Prince first meet in such an everyday type of situation. Nothing special but the moment does fit so well. She saves the stag that the Prince and his men are hunting showing us her compassion and affinity with the animals is still very much present. As are the adorable mice and Gus-Gus.
The magic of the transformation and the ball were left in and left quite close to the original version yet there was some well received tweaks. Cinderella still has to meet the all important curfew and still managed to run, gracefully, all the way down those steps in pretty glass shoes. That in itself is a fairy tale but it’s the price we pay for dreams.
I was so glad to find they’d left the song “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes” in the film and that Lily had recorded a version too. Each Disney film has a signature song and for me this one is it. As a child I hummed to it and as I’ve grown up I’ve found different interpretations to it. You’re all probably the same. It’s a song that will never date and means a lot in difficult situations.
I think the main reason I’m writing this piece is that there is still room for fairy tales in the world today and they make us feel better no matter how much we cry through them. We see so many interpretations of the tales of old and yet they essentially stay the same. Cinderella is just like us. She’s had tragedies, hard times and then so much hope. If we all stuck with “have courage and be kind” we too could make situations better for ourselves and others. Yes it might be hard but we can learn something. We don’t all live in fairy tales but we can strive to be better people and live to see our dreams come true even if that dream is only to find our own Prince or Princess. I live to fulfil my dreams because some people can’t and like Cinderella said about the ball: “It was like a dream. Better than a dream.”
All I can do now is hope the live action version of Beauty and the Beast is as well executed. If they destroy that film my faith in humanity will be lost as it’s my all time favourite Disney film. I will say the cast looks fantastic so far!