Simply Magical: Cinderella

By Monday, March 30, 2015 ,

Every once in a while, you encounter a movie that’s simply refreshing. One that reminds you that there are indeed such things as hope and joy and that they’re worth fighting for. Disney’s new blockbuster Cinderella is one of them. I couldn’t stop smiling for about two days after I saw it. It’s fresh, innocent, moving, funny, encouraging, and plain magical.

I’m a sucker for Disney princess movies, so I was interested when this Cinderella remake arose. And naturally, when I heard Lily James of Downton Abbey was playing Cinderella, I got excited. Her flighty, impulsive character of Lady Rose MacClare in Downton is a far cry from this classic princess, so I was curious to see her in the role. It helped that Sophie McShera, another Downton actress, would star alongside her as a stepsister. And my fangirling heightened again when I saw Cate Blanchett would be the stepmother and Helena Bonham Carter the fairy godmother.

To say the least, the cast was stellar. Helena Bonham Carter was as fabulous as I could have expected her to be. The transformation scene sparkled (literally) with beautiful special effects, but she put a witty spin on the fairy godmother, so there were fun humorous aspects too. And Cate Blanchett was the best idea ever for the stepmother. She’s intimidating, calculating, and has more of a scheming element than in the animated version. We also hear about some of her past, which helps us understand her more, but at the same time, even she eventually realizes it’s no justification for her cruelty. This moment was probably the most poignant for her character, and Cate Blanchett nailed it.

Richard Madden as the prince was also perfectly cast. Affectionately called “Kit,” this prince receives nice characterization, considering he’s just kinda “there” in the animated movie. Richard Madden’s Prince Charming is indeed charming (those blue eyes, anyone? *swoon*), but also struggles between royal responsibilities and desire to be his own person. His relationships with his father and the captain of the guard both bring out interesting depths in him. And his interactions with Cinderella are admirable, gentle, and endearing. Granted, it’s still fairytale-ish, but his pursuit embodies patient determination to win her more than roguish impulse to just sweep her off her feet. He’s captivated, but also indicates in a touching scene that he wants to be worthy of her. And their scenes together at the ball are really pure magic. As Cinderella came down the stairs and they danced, you could’ve heard a pin drop in the theater. I may have held my breath. It’s literally every girl’s dream playing on the screen in front of you – the belle of the ball dancing with a handsome prince while wearing the most exquisite gown imaginable.

{Photo credit:}
 Speaking of which, that dress is something out of a fairytale in itself. Oh, to dream! Every costume is breathtaking and superbly detailed, as are the sets, scenery, music…everything. It was a thrilling, awe-inspiring aesthetic feast and I couldn’t get enough. The movie is worth seeing almost for the visual beauty alone.

And Downton fans, our girl Lily did us proud. Her Cinderella glows with sweet, youthful innocence and exudes quiet strength. Cinderella’s ongoing mantra is “have courage and be kind,” first imparted by her mother at the film’s start. It was uplifting to see such a positive, selfless message in a film that many young girls are watching. This Cinderella is never portrayed as weak, yet she is not outspoken or defiant until nearly the film’s conclusion, when the right moment has clearly arrived. Rather, she is gentle, longsuffering, and bears the harshness of her stepmother and stepsisters with courage and patience. Her kindness and quietness are her strengths. Lily James is certainly a breathtaking vision of beauty, but the film’s exaltation of Cinderella’s kind, tender heart brings inner beauty to the forefront of the audience’s minds, and James is radiant in this characterization. She’s elegant, serenely captivating, and wins us over with her simple perseverance and courage, much like Cinderella wins over the prince. One of the most striking moments in the film occurs after Cinderella has fit the glass slipper and she and the prince are leaving her house hand in hand. They pause at the front door and Cinderella turns to her stepmother with a final word: “I forgive you.” Way to go, girl. It was a powerful punch line. Perhaps not as culturally popular or ego-satisfying as an “aha” or “I win” declaration, but what an important message to lodge in the minds of young girls.  

Ever watch one of your favorite movies or an old classic for the hundredth time, but still get nervous that maybe this time it won’t end the same? That’s how this Cinderella feels. Everyone knows the story and the ending, but it’s so beautifully written and executed that you feel like you’re hearing it for the first time. You do sort of wonder whether she’ll get to the ball this time, whether she’ll make it home before her carriage turns back into a pumpkin, or whether she’ll get to try on the slipper. It keeps you on the edge of your seat, and the visuals are mesmerizing. The quiet courage and sweetness of the heroine seal the deal. Go see it. All of you too-cool-for-school kids pretending you’re too mature for fairytales and Disney, please get over yourself. No one believed that for a second.

{Photo Source: FanPop}

*I do not own the rights to the photos in this post. All photos used were obtained from credited Internet sources*

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