Disney’s ‘Cinderella’ remake creates spellbinding cinema magic

March 19th, 2015


Many fans of the original Disney princess stories, such as Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, might agree these classics are better left untouched. However, with modern movie magic, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures transformed the original “Cinderella” cartoon into a live-action romantic fantasy film with thematic eloquence.


The film was released Friday, March 13.  According to its first weekend’s box office sales, it has been more successful than Disney’s “Maleficent,” which was released last May.


Directed by Kenneth Branagh, “Cinderella” stars Lily James from “Downtown Abbey” as Ella, Richard Madden from “Game of Thrones” as Prince Charming, Helena Bonham Carter as the Fairy Godmother and Cate Blanchett as Lady Tremaine, or the evil stepmother.


Although this newer version is inspired by “Cendrillon,” the 1698 version of the beloved fairytale written by French author Charles Perrault, the film also includes references from the Brothers Grimm’s version of the beloved fairytale.


Unlike the Disney cartoon, this remake of “Cinderella” digs deeper into the storyline, showing Cinderella’s childhood as well as Lady Tremaine’s unhappy past. The film resolves many unanswered questions from the cartoon version. In the film, Ella and Prince Charming meet before the royal ball, adding a more personal connection to their romance rather than love at first sight.


Another element that made the film more mature was the decision not to feature talking animals.  Although the talking furry friends play an intricate part in the cartoon movie, these silent creatures are still loyal to Cinderella, but in a less cheesy fashion.


Academy Award winner Sandy Powell designed elaborate, colorful and whimsical costumes, bringing the classic fantasy to life. Powell decided to blend fashion styles from the 1940s and the 19th century, adding a glamorous and timeless essence to the costumes.


Cinderella’s signature blue ball gown is revamped with more sparkle, taking a deeper shade of blue, accessorized with tiny butterflies. Despite the fact that Cinderella’s iconic glass slippers appeared in CGI form in the film, the style for the shoes was based on a pair that Powell created using Swarovski crystal.


Powell creates a couture style for Lady Tremaine, dressing her in bold, rich and dark colors to play off of her manipulative and sly persona. The designer takes a different approach for the stepsisters Anastasia and Drizella, creating matching costumes with a ridiculously bright palette, conveying their obnoxious behavior. Powell also gives the fairy godmother a Cinderella-esque sparkling white ball gown, complete with her famous magic wand.


Lily James, Richard Madden

The casting choices for these fairytale characters could not have been more perfect. Blanchett emulated the wickedness of the evil stepmother through stern expressions, a manipulative character and a downright rotten attitude. However, the film touches upon the inner struggles Cinderella’s stepmother has faced in her past, but doesn’t create too much empathy for the character.


Carter, who has been known to play darker characters in the past, gives a refreshing performance as a blonde, quirky Fairy Godmother who toddles around quickly to send Cinderella to the ball.


Madden captivates every female theatergoer with his brilliant blue eyes and charming smile, embodying the stereotypical Disney prince perfectly. James and Madden’s on-screen chemistry makes their fictional romance seem realistic. Their undeniable connection makes the fairytale relationship believable.


James is the perfect fit as Cinderella, despite the fact that she originally auditioned for the role of one of the stepsisters. James’ kind nature brings the innocent Disney princess to life, embodying the film’s message to have courage and be kind.


Overall, Disney’s idea to create this new take on the story of “Cinderella” is refreshing and magical. It is clear, with the plan to make a live-action version of “Beauty and the Beast” in the near future, that Disney has found a new way to retell its famous fairytales that have been cherished for generations.