Disney’s Newest Glass Slipper

Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios

Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios

Audiences jumped down the rabbit hole with Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland,” watched the high cheek bones of Angelina Jolie crash a party as “Maleficent” and now they have begun to lose their shoes — I mean minds — with Disney’s newest live action rendition of the classic animated fairy tale, “Cinderella.”

It was not just the feature film “Cinderella” that the public was anticipating, but also the new “Frozen” short, featuring a new original song. “Frozen Fever” pointedly plays at the irony of the wave of “Frozen” fanatics, sharing a story of Elsa radically enthusiastic for Ana’s birthday celebration to the point that she gets feverish “chills” and contracts a nasty cold.

Yep, I think it is pretty clear that there are those who are not alone in the sentiment of being “sick” of “Frozen Fever,” and that a “little cold” can sometimes bother Elsa…

Disney’s newest trend of re-creating animated classics to a new generation of princesses, heroes and everything in between, is no small order. There was no simple “Bippity Boppity Boo” to the making over of the 1950’s classic, but Disney recruited a powerful force of fairy godmothers to transform pumpkins into carriages and animation into live action. Academy Award nominee Kenneth Branagh was given the magical wand as director of the transformed “Cinderella.” His team of producers had impressive contemporary credits such as installations of the “Harry Potter” and “Hunger Games” series.

With their hard hitters assembled, it was time to turn mice into horses. How would they bring the iconic characters of “Cinderella” to life through casting, wardrobe, sets and storyline, capturing the beloved, timeless story and its essence for a different generation?

The storytellers perfectly “casted” a spell that withstood the tests of midnight with their development of Lady Tremaine, played by Academy Award winning actress Cate Blanchett. Aiding Blachett was a strong reflection that the screenwriters created between Cinderella and her stepmother. This interesting thematic addition allowed Blanchett to have moments of vulnerability and weakness, not the one-dimensional evil step-mother of the animated film.

There were times that the screenwriters did not create the perfect, Cinderella-esque transformation.  An evolved, less clumsy Grand Duke, with more unworthy intentions was a dark interpretation of a heartwarming character. A youthful godmother, played by Helena Bonham Carter, had a constricting script that does not allow Carter’s spark and quirk to fully translate on screen.

Lily James, the actress portraying Cinderella, exhibited a beautiful wholesomeness in the role, but lacked the multi-faceted aspects of the original character. James played a one-dimensional innocent character, who lives by the motto “Have courage and be kind,” leading her portrayal to be heavy handed in the pushover category.

This idealized and diluted character, attracts the admiration of a prince but leaves the audience with a different impression of the heroine that is not the strong woman with the gumption, durability and the maturity of the 1950’s character.

Also, the fact that James was slightly taller than her prince when wearing her high-heeled glass slippers was a tad distracting.

Overshadowing the beloved glass slippers was the water-like, shimmering blue ball gown, designed by Sandy Powell. Cinderella wears this little number until the last stroke of midnight. The numerous layers of fabric created a visually rich dress with a wide skirt that encompassed the dance floor and seemed to float and move like a graceful dancer.

“Cinderella” was a visually breathtaking reenactment of the beloved fairy tale classic, but when it comes time for me to introduce my child to the glass slippered princess, I will definitely reach for the 1950’s animation first.

 

ONLY RECOMMENDED IF: You like Disney. Disney’s “Cinderella” remake has its character flaws, but is a venerable effort to retell a classic tale.