By Grace Summerson
‘Have courage and be kind…’
Sixty-five years since her animated debut Cinderella is brought to life by Disney once more but this time in the flesh. After saving Walt Disney Studios from bankruptcy in 1950 the success of the original feature as helped place Disney as one of the most loved and wealthy film studios in the world. Charles Perrualt’s fifteenth century tale has spawned a legacy of retellings but non as well known today as Disney’s. The fairy tale is so much a part of the Disney iconography that the prince’s castle is featured as the distinctive logo and has been replicated as the centrepiece for the Disneyland parks worldwide.
So the main question was; how could they retell a story, told hundreds of time on film, and renew magic and excitement of the original in a new age? Well a big budget certainly helps. Near $100 million dollars was spent producing the 2015 film which sets it far apart from other live-action adaptations that smaller studios have produced of Cinderella. The film thrives on its playful animation, luxurious sets, stunning costumes, and a-list actors.
The leads are relative newcomers to big budget blockbusters. Lily James, who plays a sweet and caring Cinderella, will be most recognised for her work on Downton Abbey as Lady Rose. Her princely counterpart, played by Richard Madden, coming from the far darker world of Game of Thrones where he played the much-mourned King in the North. Each strike a good balance between romantic and charming without becoming too naïve and unrealistic.
That said the more memorable performances where given by the regal Cate Blanchett and spirited Helena Bonham-Cater. Blanchett’s stepmother is cruel but not evil her selfish actions originating from a proud character are underpinned by emotion. From 2D drawings Lady Tremaine has stepped forth into the 3D world and become a very genuine character that modern audience’s require to understand a villain’s actions. Seeing Blanchett at the helm will recall one of her greater roles as Queen Elizabeth I but with a wicked laugh and jealous intentions.
Bonham-Carter’s Fairy Godmother is the perfect balance to Blanchett’s stepmother, bringing real joy and energy to the screen when Cinderella is at one of lowest moments. Even without singing ‘bibbity-bobbity-boo’. But this isn’t your typical grandmother-esque fairy Bonham-Carter’s Godmother is glamorous and dazzling whilst still being a little quirky and fantastical.
At its heart Cinderella remains an enchanting love story. With Kenneth Branagh’s direction we have a visually sumptuous delight underpinned by fantastic performances and an emotionally truthful script. It is a treat of a film for romantics young and old.
Grace is a second year Creative Writing student that loves films and writing her own scripts. You can follow her on twitter here.