When I was growing up, princesses weren’t the cultural phenomenon that they are today. Dressing up as a princess didn’t require an itchy $40 dress from the Disney store. It only requires things like my mother’s slip, some fancy clip-on earrings, and a paper crown. And a lot of imagination.
When I was growing up, a bride and a princess were on pretty equal footing. Both were equally magical and both involved long, flowing beautiful gowns, and a life of happily ever after.
When I was growing up, the epitome of that fantasy came in the animated form of Cinderalla, a movie that I loved so much I also owned the record and the book and could recite the lines from the movie (even though owning movies wasn’t even a thing yet).
I guess Cinderella held a special and magical place in my heart, as do most fairy tales as retold by Walt Disney. It’s part of what has drawn me to the show Once Upon A Time, a show that the whole family watches together. We love piecing together the stories and figuring out how the brilliant writers will somehow make it all fit (my favorite twist – Peter Pan and Rumplestiltskin!).
But it was in one of the first few episodes that the Cinderella story was glossed over. It was a quick substory and Cinderella was never to be seen or heard from again.
As a result, I was delighted when I heard there would be a live action Cinderella movies. Delighted and apprehensive. I’ve loved the recent retelling of fairy tales through shows like Once Upon A Time and movies like Maleficent. Would I love Cinderella? Would they change it? Lose the magic? And the trailers I saw showed a young woman playing Cinderella who lacked the delicate features that her animated counterpart possessed. It felt wrong.
Since all of those reflections and feelings, I’ve seen the movie and I couldn’t have been happier with the result. There was good and bad (which I’ll mention below) but I walked away from the theater dabbing my eyes and feeling the magic of the film.
The casting was superb.
Cate Blanchett wears evil so well and the bumbling stepsisters were perfectly spoiled brats (you might even recognize Sophia McShera who plays Drisella from Downton Abbey).
Lily James was lovely as Ella (Cinderella) and you won’t be able to keep your eyes off her cinched, corseted waist. She was courageous and kind, exactly what her mother taught her to be.
Richard Madden, who is apparently from Game of Thrones, was the Prince. Finally, a prince with personality and weakness and bravery, all wrapped up in a handsome package complete with the piercely blue eyes. Swoon.
I do have to mention the Fairy Godmother, played by Helena Bonham Carter. She felt like the Jar Jar Binks of the film. Placed there for comic relief and the character, as well as Bonham Carter, seemed a bit out of place. I’d have rather seen Dame Judi Dench in the role. I’d rather see Dame Judi Dench in just about any role.
Side note: Did you know that the film was directed by Kenneth Branagh who had an affair with Helena Bonham Carter while he was married to Emma Thompson? AWKWARD.
Overall, the story stayed pretty true to the original with only a few twists. For a purist like me, I was pleasantly satisfied. For once, I didn’t need remarkable plot twists to lure me in. I simply basked in the beauty of the story as it tugged at my heart strings and made me feel like a little girl dreaming of being a princess and bride someday.
Final note: BUT WILL BOYS LIKE IT? Depends on your boy. I gave Evan a choice as to whether or not he wanted to see the film. He chose to go and although he seemed restless during the film and was disappointed there weren’t more villains, he turned to me once the movie was over and said, “That was a really good movie.” Case closed.
Photo credit: Jessica McFadden
Special note: W