As a four-year old girl, the first two movies I remember seeing were re-releases of both Sleeping Beauty and then Cinderella. They were magical experiences to a young girl – filling my head with ideas of true love and how goodness could win out in the end.
Over the years, I’ve grown, but each of these two movies stand out as pieces of my childhood that I won’t want to forget. Now, as a woman considerably older than four, I still went with my mother to see the new Cinderlla this weekend. Rather than being that squirming child sitting next to my ever-patient mother, Mom and I chatted with each other throughout about how much the story in this live-action version flushed out the characters and motivations (I care about those things now. Imagine that!) while also giggling and laughing at all of the connections between the movie and various other movies and TV shows.
At its core, Cinderella won’t change – there’s no way to erase the conditions that Cinderella finds herself in or how she leaves that all behind when she captivates the Prince – but what this live-action film can do (with help from many other Cinderella inspired films of the last fifteen years, mostly noticeably Ever After – for that movie helps to make Ella and the Prince’s first meeting) is to help the audience understand and sympathize with all of the characters. Here, unlike the animated film, everyone has a purpose for their actions – just or unjust as they might be.
Ella – for now she has a name that leads to her nickname – we see how much her parents love and adore her and how hard both of their deaths are. Lady Tremaine has reasons to hate poor Ella and she equally has a reason to manipulate her way into a good position. So to does the Prince, Kitt, have a love and respect for his father and his kingdom. All together, everyone here wants something better from what they had before. As an adult now, these motivations and little insights made the film much more than just a fairy tale, but as a child I could see how most of them near me said how much they liked the costumes or the actors being pretty or handsome. It helps to have both in this version now, though more in the way that Shrek had jokes designed for parents to enjoy rather than their children.
Now, the plot didn’t change, but in that way there are other small moments to laugh about. It must say something about me that I laughed about speaking French and then again when Anastasia and Drisella called Ella a mad woman in the attic (remembering that Grainger was in Jane Eyre makes it apt).
Overall, Cinderella still has the captivating elements of the animated classic, with the added benefit of character development and a moral that will stick with you long after the credits roll.
Do stay through all of the credits, though, because there’s the added fun with Lily James and Helena Bonham Carter singing.