Disney is establishing a new connection with a new generation of children and adolescents by taking many of their much beloved animated classics and turning them into live-action films. For the generation that lived through the Disney Renaissance (the mid 90s to around 2001) this attempt can seem desperate or far-fetched.
I am one of those that grew up with the Disney Renaissance films, that are much of the films that people consider “classic.” Tarzan. Beauty and the Beast. The Lion King. Mulan. But there were also old classics that slipped in, and Cinderella, the 1950’s classic, was one of them.
Thus, I am one of the people who felt very, very skeptical and nervous about the new Cinderella film.
For starters, Cinderella is not my favourite Disney film to begin with. I don’t hate it, I think it’s sweet, but the story is very simple and, as a feminist, I think it’s a little … misleading, perhaps? And I just feel that it’s told so often with NOTHING NEW added to it, even though a story as old as Cinderella (the Grimms had their own version, for crying out loud) has been told in a variety of ways.
But, my best friend was in town and she didn’t want to see the cute, animated movie Home, nor were either of us quite in the mood for Kingsman, not for that night, at least. We wanted something sweet but dramatic enough to keep us going. Or at least she did. Me, I wanted good story, period, though I’ll never turn down something that makes you feel good.
However, as I stated, I’m a feminist. I do not like the idea (as many fairytales express) that a young girl finds a prince and she’ll live happily ever after. I do not like the idea that every young girl has to be feminine and girly to find that prince, or find happiness. I do NOT like the overplaying of magic and the disregard for the real world, and I do not like stereotypes, and fairytales have often relied on stereotypes, especially those dealing with gender.
This movie had me wary. I did not really want to see it. I kept pushing it off.
BUT THIS MOVIE.
It blew me away. It is the BEST VERSION of Cinderella I have ever seen in my entire life EVER.
Here is what the movie did right:
1. For starters, ROB BRYDON made a cameo. He is one of my favourite British comedians, he makes me belly laugh, tears rolling down my face, and I was delighted to see him in this movie.
2. They used the name “Ella,” as that was her ORIGINAL name, and then they explained and showed how she got the name “Cinderella.” NO OTHER VERSION (that I’ve seen and can remember) has done this, and not so clearly and simply. I liked that they stuck to the original plot of the OLD stories for this, even though it’s a small thing.
3. Our beautiful Ella had blonde hair but it was messy and wavy, and she also had dark eyebrows and dark eyes. She was gorgeous but not so Barbie, perfect plastic, dainty, “fake” gorgeous. She was HUMAN.
4. They SHOWED HER MOTHER. They gave us a good 10, 15 minutes, maybe more, of story about her mother and her, and how close they were, and who her mother was to her. Her mother gave Ella her entire motto for the film: “Have courage, and be kind.” Most of the Cinderella movies/stories/tv shows/ etc, etc, that I have seen establish from the beginning “her mother died boo hoo” and so we never get to see or hear from her mom, or see what she felt towards her mother OR her loss. In this movie we get to see that it is her mother who really influenced who she was as a woman, and we also get to see how much Cinderella’s father loved BOTH of them, not just his daughter.
5. Her dad was just an all around awesome character and much more human and nuanced than he usually is. Same deal with the mom, really. They were both just so much more complex.
6. She met the Prince before the ball. So it’s, you know, not as weird that she meets him ONCE and that’s it. She’s also HELLA fierce with him.
7. THE PRINCE IS HUMAN. HE’S BEAUTIFUL BUT HUMAN. He also HAS A DAD, and we get to SEEEEEE this relationship play out, and who his dad is and what it means for both of them.
8. HELENA BONHAM CARTER IS THE FUCKING FAIRY GODMOTHER. That alone should sell the film.
9. THEY KEPT THE MICE. GUS GUS TOO. They had little, expressive faces, and they looked like real mice but they were just a little more human in spirit, and they made the most adorable little sounds. THEY WERE SO CUTE AND THEY WERE STILL PART OF THE FILM.
10. I know I said this already but– the main motto of the film was “Have courage and be kind.” The story focuses on how a young woman works through great trials and how she gets through life having courage, and being kind. She is a strong, independent, fierce woman who LOVES so big and has such a brave, determined spirit. She is very complex and multi-faceted, and I love that the movie celebrates ALL of this. To teach the next generation of children, girls especially, but boys too, that one of the most important things in life is to “have courage and be kind,” is a great, great, GREAT way to reintroduce this story to the next generation.
Tell me what your thoughts were on the movie! What did you like, what did you wish they had done, and what other Disney movies are you looking forward to seeing turned into live action? Tell me in the comments!
And, P.S: anyone see Kingsman? Is it any good? BRITISH SPIES. IT MUST BE GOOD.
Always remember: have courage, and be kind!