Cinderella: Movie Review
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"Poor Cinderelly." That line from Disney's animated classic resonates as you watch Cinderella, the famed studio's new live-action version of the fairytale story of a young orphaned girl who rises from rags to riches.
Sticking to the traditional Disney storyline, Director Kenneth Branagh (Thor, Much Ado About Nothing) offers moviegoers a welcomd change of pace in this age of modern reworked classics. Starring Lily James (recognizable from Downton Abbey), Cinderella still somehow transcends time, offering audiences, young and old, a heartwarming tale of the power of kindness.
THE MOVIE IN A MINUTE
Young Ella's life is turned upside down when her mother takes ill and dies. Her loving father, with the hopes of securing happiness again, marries a woman whose true colors are fully revealed when he unexpectedly passes away. Orphaned, Ella hopes to find solace in her stepmother. But that was never to be, for she would be banished to live in the attic and serve her stepmother and stepsisters the rest of her days as "Cinderella". Not one to give up hope, Cinderella's fate takes a turn when she meets a charming stranger while riding her horse in the woods.
THE GOOD AND BAD IN CINDERELLA
"I want to tell you a secret that will see you through all of the trials that life can offer: 'Have courage and be kind'".
Those are the wise words Cinderella's mother speaks to her daughter as she lays dying. We pick up the young girl's story when she's happiest, held in the arms of her loving mother and father. When illness takes her mother and then her father, Cinderella's life is forever altered. However, her promise to be kind never wavers--even when her new family gravely mistreats her. It's important to mention this as these two deaths are glossed over in the animated version (there's also another illness and subsequent death in the movie). Though each scene is played out well, it may be a bit much for the youngest of moviegoers. For the older ones, it builds Cinderella's story--giving us a memorable picture of resilience and hope.
Rated PG for mild thematic elements, Cinderella is a great movie for the family to see together. Being a fairytale movie, Cinderella does speak of magic and have moments that display its power, especially when the Fairy Godmother appears. One moment between the stepsisters is also worth noting. As the two dress for the King's Ball, they bound about their room, describing the violent acts they would do to each other in order to secure the prince's hand in marriage for themselves. Matched against Cinderella's graciousness, their selfishness is magnified.
Cate Blanchett as the evil stepmother is cruel in word and deed toward Cinderella. In the end, we hear her story and come to realize why she is so spiteful. It's a nice revelation we don't see in the animated version. To understand where a person comes from sometimes helps in forgiving their misdeeds--another good message to hear.
There's a line in Cinderella that says the greatest "risk we will ever take is to be seen as we truly are". Being honest about herself and choosing kindness over being spoiled and cruel is exactly what Cinderella does--and she's blessed for it. In an age when kids are increasingly greedy and prone to bullying, it's nice to see a movie that applauds a young girl who chooses to be gracious instead of bitter to those who wrong her.
IN THE END
Cinderella is a visual wonder that offers moviegoers an entertaining take on an old-fashioned tale. Messages of hope, kindness and forgiveness endure in Branagh's revisit of the timeless story--and it's the better for it.
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