Few people aren’t familiar with the Brothers Grimm’s Cinderella, a fairy tale about a kind-hearted country girl who endures mistreatment at the hands of her cruel and jealous stepmother. The girl never loses hope or becomes jaded by her circumstances, and eventually she wins the heart of a dashing prince. Now this classic story has returned to the big screen.
Disney has a history of targeting female audiences with stories that elicit the nostalgia of their childhood years. With dazzling costumes and lavish set design, everything in this latest live-action version of Cinderella is accomplished with this goal in mind.
How many girls can resist the story of a young servant who transforms into a beautiful princess, complete with an extravagant blue ball gown and shining crystal glass slippers, all designed through the magic of a charming fairy godmother?
Movies adapted from fairy tales are nothing new. But in recent years, many of these stories have been revised, even flipped on their heads, to appeal to modern audiences. The 2014 musical drama Into the Woods, for example, combined the stories of Cinderella, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, and Jack and the Beanstalk to create an ironic tale that would appeal to adults. Starring American actress Angelina Jolie, 3-D dark fantasy film Maleficent (2014) portrayed the Sleeping Beauty story through the perspective of the villain rather than the cursed princess.
Cinderella, however, stays true to its source material. There isn’t much time invested in creating new plot elements, instead the creators focus on details that make the story more convincing and logical.
This time, Cinderella and her prince don’t fall in lov e at first sight at the royal ball — they develop a familiarity with each other after meeting by chance in a forest.
We even feel a sense of pity for the malicious stepmother (Cate Blanchett) who overhears her husband pouring his heart out about his love for his ex-wife. Two-time Academy Award winner Cate Blanchett’s elegance and formidable acting skills heighten the stepmother’s devilishness.
If this new Cinderella didn’t update its formula for modern times, it’s quite possible that audiences would reject it. Today people prefer to see heroines make the bad guy pay rather than easily forgive them. Women with venomous tongues, like Max in 2 Broke Girls, always outshine their more forgiving counterparts.
Cinderella mostly aims to satisfy traditional fairytale lovers, and in this endeavor it succeeds. In the film’s simple world, it’s appearance, goodness and honesty that count most. In fact, no matter what situation we’re in, it’s never wrong to follow this adage from Cinderella: “Have courage and be kind.”