By Jac Frost
I have already seen Kenneth Branagh’s live-action version of Disney’s “Cinderella” twice since its release on March 13. The film, which tells the usual tale of the country girl with ridiculously small feet, follows the usual storyline that most of the world knows from the 1950 Disney cartoon. This version though, starring such famous names as Helena Bonham Carter and Cate Blanchet, allows for slightly different plot problems while still staying true to the tale of the princess so many of us grew up on.
While I have never personally been a very large fan of Kenneth Branagh (most likely because of his perfect portrayal of Gilderoy Lockhart in “Harry Potter”), I now take back everything I have ever thought of him as a director (even when it comes to the first “Thor” film). His version of “Cinderella” brings back every bit of magic that the 1950 version possessed. Every screenshot of the film in and of itself is a work of art; not a single second of the film goes to waste.
Ironically, what I dislike most about Branagh’s “Thor”, is what caused me to absolutely adore his “Cinderella”: the sparkling beauty of every piece of the film. Even the hideous cat Lucifer has a certain amount of beauty to bring to the picture – especially when Lucifer chases after Cinderella’s mice friends, Jacqueline, Gus-Gus and the likes.
While I adore this retelling for staying so true to the classic cartoon, what I enjoy most of all are the references made to many of the other stories of “Cinderella”. Whether it be the 1997 TV movie “Cinderella” starring Brandy Norwood and Whitney Houston, or “Rodgers & Hammerstein’s: Cinderella”, the Broadway musical, if the audience knows enough about the previous versions, they may see many small but significant references to past productions of the story of this beautiful princess. This, to me, was one of the most exciting aspects of the film as a whole. Of course, the actual story remains my favorite part of the film.
Many people dislike Cinderella’s story because she “doesn’t do anything”, but this version of the Princess’s life certainly has her doing at least a bit of the work to get her happily ever after. Lily James, who plays the title character, was a perfect choice to show both the love and strength of Ella as she goes through life remembering her mother’s last words “have courage and be kind.” This quote resonates throughout the entire movie and gives every member of the audience new words to live by—especially many of the young children who will be present in every theater, ready to watch a girl get her prince and live happily ever after.
“Cinderella” is a pleasant shock to the system. Every aspect of the story makes it worth seeing again and again. The direction, the photography, the cast, and the animation all combine to form a perfect retelling of this beloved story. And while the story will no doubt be told again in another film, I think this one might just be remembered at least a bit better than most of the others.