Monday, 16 March 2015

Film Review: "Cinderella" (2015).

"Wherever there is goodness, there is kindness, and wherever there is kindness, there is magic." This quote is at the essence of this retelling of Cinderella. This romantic fantasy film directed by Kenneth Branagh, written by Chris Weitz, based on the classic fairy tale of the same name by Charles Perrault and Disney's 1950 animated musical film. Produced by Walt Disney Pictures, the film is a live-action retelling of the classic fairytale about a servant step daughter who is abused by her jealous stepmother and stepsisters after her father had died, for she was forced to be a servant in her own house yet through it all she did not let anything or anyone crush her spirit as she meets a dashing stranger in the woods.

There are numerous ancient myths and stories containing Cinderella motifs, dating as far back as an Egyptian tale from the first century BC. The modern version of Cinderella was created by French author Charles Perrault, whose fairy tale was first published in 1697. It has since been the basis of and inspiration behind innumerable operas, ballet, plays and films. The first film version was seven-minutes long, directed by George Méliès in France in 1899. The first Hollywood adaptation was Paramount Pictures' 1914 silent film, starring Mary Pickford in the title role. Disney's classic animated version of Cinderella was released in 1950. It was a major box office success, and in 2008 was named the ninth-greatest animated film of all time by the American Film Institute. Other modern films based on the Cinderella concept include The Slipper and the Rose (1976), Ever After (1998) and A Cinderella Story (2004). While approaching the project with a deep understanding of the fairy tale's history, Kenneth Branagh said: "It is impossible to think of Cinderella without thinking of Disney, and the timeless images we've all grown up watching. And those classic moments are irresistible to a filmmaker."

The film stars Lily James in the title role as Ella ("Cinderella") with Richard Madden as Prince Charming, Cate Blanchett as Lady Tremaine (the Wicked Stepmother), Sophie McShera as Drizella, Holliday Grainger as Anastasia and Helena Bonham Carter as The Fairy Godmother. As well as Stellan Skarsgård as The Grand Duke, Derek Jacobi as The King, Hayley Atwell as Cinderella's Mother and Ben Chaplin as Cinderella's Father. The cast, despite giving their best efforts under the direction of Branagh, brought nothing really new in terms of characterization and expanding upon the characters from the 1950 classic. All was brought was why was Cinderella kind, what drives Lady Tremaine to do the wicked and cruel things to Cinderella and where the Fairy Godmother came from. Nonetheless, they were performances wasted in vain. I think we're going to see James in bigger and better films to come.

Kenneth Branagh's magnetic and stunning visuals outshines Cinderella's cast and spirit; unfortunately, the story and characters fail to bring anything new to the table and justify all that impressive effort. However, it surprises me not for its Disney vision of a colorful, lavish world enlivened by magic and a shining castle, but rather for the Shakespearean touch of its story and characters thanks to director Branagh. To conclude, long live the feminist revisionist backstory.

Simon says Cinderella receives:

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