I was invited on an expenses paid trip to LA by Disney to cover the #CinderellaEvent in exchange for my posts of the trip experiences. As always, all opinions are my own.
Today is the day. The live action Cinderella that everyone has been waiting for releases in theaters TODAY! It's been 65 years since the last Cinderella and for those of you who want a brand new movie, it hasn't happened. It is the same iconic, amazing back story with a few twists. The Director Kenneth Branagh told us that its not about what happens next because we all know the story. Its about HOW it happens. Cinderella is simply Ella and she suffers the same archetype that most Disney protagonists have which is the loss of her parents. Cinderella is not a princess but she does meet her Prince. It is so hard to make a movie to please everyone and I know that some will not like it but I did. I loved it. I cried several times in the movie (those people cutting onions in the theater have got to stop!) and I heard a few other sniffles as well.
Cate Blanchett was wonderful as the Lady Tremaine, Cinderella's wicked stepmother. She looked perfect. I love all of her outfits in the movie and she even mentioned in our interview with her that it was fun to be a Disney villain because, “There's a lot of great Disney villains, and a lot of them are women and they always have fabulous frocks and fabulous hairdos.” She definitely fit the bill. She wore her perfect lady of the house role until Cinderella asks why she is cruel. That is the only time she cracks and it is like having a glimpse into her heart. I think I identify with villains too much. She was wonderfully patient with her daughters even while being completely exasperated. Holliday Grainger and Sophie McShera could be sisters in real life. They fought, they bickered, and they tried to one up each other the whole movie. Perfect for sisters especially evil step-sisters. I could see how they escalated their abuse on Cinderella as they noticed that it hurt her more. The more she didnt react, the more they tried to pile the abuse on. The scene where they find her with soot on her face and find out she has been sleeping near the fireplace to keep warm is one of the saddest scenes in the movie. Its like they are breaking her soul. And as for the other villains of the show, well Stellan Skarsgård plays the Grand Duke with aplomb. He rocks his role with a sneakiness that I love about him. Even when he plays a good guy he has a twinkle in his eye that lets you know that you are getting more than you bargained for.
But Ella meets her prince. And Richard Madden is a great Prince. He has the best smile and the best eyes. Even Kenneth Branagh said so when we interviewed him. He said he had very blue eyes and very tight trousers but more than that, he was the type of Prince that would be draw Cinderella in. Not because he was a prince but because he was himself. The scene when his father dies killed me in the theater. I am pretty sure tears were streaming down my face. I mean I knew that Cinderella's parents died because I have seen the original ninety times but he does not die in the original. I think it needed to happen in this movie even though Derek Jacobi was wonderful in his role. He needed to go because it helped the Prince to come into his own as a parent's death often does.
The ball scene was everything I hoped it would be. It was magical and the costumes…I can't even find a word. Sandy Powell outdid herself with these costumes. She is magical. Everyone watches transfixed as the Prince and Cinderella dance across the ball room. They practiced that dance for months. Lily James told us that her dress tore if Richard Madden even looked at it so I am sure it was a mess for everyone and that the costumers had so much to do. They did so great. I can't even imagine the amount of work it took for them and I hope opening night tonight makes it all worth it for them.
Lily James was the most perfect casting for Cinderella. She is kind and beautiful. She has a soft beauty and is very soft-spoken as well. But you could overlook her in a room. But then once you saw her you would wonder how you didn't notice her before. This Cinderella is better than the old in my opinion. In the simplest terms, she is not waiting for a prince to save her. She saves herself. She stays and endures the abuse of her step-mother and step-sisters because she is strong enough to endure it not because she has no where else to go. She can leave but she is honoring her mother and father by staying in her family home. In the end she tells the Prince to take her as she is. She goes on her own terms and he is humbled.
So if you are looking for something family friendly this is the movie for you! I am going to take my children to it during the weekend and I am going to love it just as much the second time because it is a perfect retelling of the Cinderella story while still being the movie I loved from my youth. And you can only see Frozen Fever if you see Cinderella. My husband is still mad I got to see it first. He loves Frozen. So now that Frozen 2 has been announced, get to the theater and see Frozen Fever to get a little taste before they start filming the new one.
You can also check out the trailer for Cinderella which releases TODAY!