Unlike recent Disney remakes such as Alice and Wonderland and Maleficent, which appear more as sequels or another side of the story, Disney’s new Cinderella is almost a direct retelling of the classic animation. Director Kenneth Branagh has kept the iconic fairy tale elements the story is known for and that fans expect: the pumpkin carriage, Cinderella’s mice friends, the fairy godmother, and of course the glass slipper.
The re-imagining of this classic then comes in giving the characters more depth. While the original Cinderella is one of Disney’s most well-known and iconic fairy tales it is often criticized for its flat characters, consequently the live action remake looks to add depth, emotion and back story to the characters.
For Cinderella (Lily James) we get this through glimpses of her mother, who is already dead in the start of the original. It is her mother that gives her the advice “have courage and be kind,” which drives Cinderella through the rest of the film. This being said, Cinderella also gets some backbone as she becomes a strong and empowered female lead, something the animated Cinderella was not. Cinderella shows her strength not through violence or acting out, but from her personal decency in a harsh world.
It is this kindness, courage and strength that attracts the Prince to Cinderella as they actually meet before the ball: creating a more believable relationship between the two. Prince “Kit” Charming (Richard Madden) gains more depth not only by enhancing his relationship with Cinderella, but with adding more emotional depth to his relationship with his father. Also, Prince Charming finally gets a real name!
Instead of the goofy happy go-lucky king who is looking to marry off his son to whoever as long as its someone, the remake gives us a much more serious ruler. The king (Derek Jacobi) is dying and is pushing his son to marry for his country, thus only a princess will do. Think Drew Barrymore’s take on Cinderella in Ever After.
Of course, as soon as Prince Kit meets Cinderella he’s a goner, defying his father and throwing the ball in hopes of seeing his mystery girl again.
A possible plot twist: the king and Madame, Cinderella’s stepmother (Cate Blanchett), join forces in order to stop the budding romance between Cinderella and Prince Kit.
Beyond adding depth to the story, the remake is more visually stunning than any other version of Cinderella. There is a nice blending of real world with the fantastical elements that are expected in Cinderella: the grandeur of the castle, Cinderella’s mice friends, the fairy godmother. Additionally, the costumes are stunning and exactly what would be envisioned for a fairy tale.
Disney’s story of Cinderella looks to be more magical and lovable than ever before in this live action remake. For even though the story is known, it has never been told like this before.