In cinemas March 13th in the USA and March 27th in th UK!
I must start by saying that I am not a massive fan of remakes. Although there have been some fantastic examples, with the majority, I have questioned the need to remake at all. If the story is still relevant, why not simply watch the original? Are you saying anything new? If you are saying something new, why use the same story? Why not do something completely different? These are the questions I had before viewing Disney’s latest incarnation of Cinderella.
For anyone who’s been living in an isolated hole in Papua New Guinea for their entire lives, Cinderella is the story of a young girl who loses both her parents and finds herself at the mercy of a wicked stepmother and her two bratty daughters. Her luck is changed when her Fairy Godmother grants her the means to attend a royal ball and meet the man of her dreams.
Cinderella is tricky. It is such a well-known and well-loved story that it is unwise to stray too far from the original narrative. You risk alienating your entire audience. But Disney has managed to walk this delicate line with expertise. They have kept the fantastical world of Fairytales that children and adults alike, revere. From the epic landscapes of rolling fields to the imposing mansions peppered amongst them. From the ever sparkling, beautifully designed costumes to the adorable animals with characters as big as the humans. But they have also brought the tale of Cinderella into the 21st Century in a way that I believe was sorely needed. There was one thing that always irked me, even as a child (tiny feminist that I was) about the 1950s version. It seemed to be focused around the idea that when a young girl faced hardship, all she really needed was a good looking man to come and save her. In this version, however, it is less about the Prince saving Cinderella as it is about her finding someone who accepts her for who she is and loves her for being different. This is a message I can get on board with!
Lily James (Cinderella) is absolutely made for this part. If you asked a small child to picture what they thought the real life version of Cinderella would look like, I’m pretty sure they’d imagine Miss James. Couple that with an inherent charm and kindness fit for a princess and the ability to ground all of these traits within very real emotions, and you question why they’d even contemplate casting someone else.
In fact the entire cast is pretty spectacular. Cate Blanchett as the Stepmother is elegant, vindictive and viciously condescending. Richard Madden as the Prince is charming and humble. His relationship with his father is heart wrenching and beautifully expanded, making the character of the Prince much more rounded. Less like a caricature and more like an actual human being. Last but not least, Helena Bonham Carter as the Fairy Godmother. I am not kidding when I say my first words when leaving this film were, “I want Helena Bonham Carter to be my Fairy Godmother!” She is fantastic. Funny, charismatic, ditzy and kind, I can’t help thinking that she may, in fact, simply be playing herself. Even if that’s true, she is so perfect for this role that it doesn’t even matter.
I believe that Cinderella is one of the few films that did need a remake. A beautiful story, capturing the hearts of young children that needed a little tweak to bring it up to date with the morals and ideals of the modern day.
If you like to leave a cinema with a spring in your step and a feeling that magic (and Swarovski crystal) is all around you, this is an absolute must see!
Review by Melanie Crossey.
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