Monday, April 20, 2015

Cinderella So Graceful

I had this theory that Disney was trying to see what audiences would respond to more: a non-traditional retelling of a classic Disney story in Maleficent or a fairly traditional retelling with Cinderella. Or maybe two teams happened to have very different projects (with very similar bases) that they wanted to work on at the same time, and Disney was up for the diversity. Either way, I think it all worked out well.

I don't know why it took me so long to see Cinderella since I did really want to watch it, but there were still plenty of people in the theatre when I went. And I had an absolutely wonderful time watching this movie. It's so subtle in the way that it sticks closely to Disney's original animated movie while also modernizing the 1950's themes. There was no need to make huge changes to try to be original, and there was no need to make huge changes to "give girls a strong female role model." Cinderella already is a role model--and not just for girls. She is patient and she works hard at every task life gives her--and that's in the animated movie, despite a bit of an emphasis on cleaning. This new movie built on that character, emphasizing not necessarily her cleaning of the house but her kindness. And kindness is a virtue we can all work on and would all benefit from working on, in so many ways.

They also played up on her young and innocent side, pairing a bright outlook with the idea of magic. And that bright outlook is a lot like hope, something fiction can never have enough of because it is so vital to life. I always appreciate a good message of hope--and of promoting good rather than bad. I tell you, it's the subtle things that made this movie soar. When the end of the movie comes, Cinderella simply walks away from her stepmother and stepsisters, essentially ignoring their threats and pretenses (i.e. their attempt to get something for themselves out of her new situation). She does not need to tell them off or yell at them now that she is no longer under their control: that would not be kind, nor would it benefit anyone. But she does need to walk away: they have ill-treated her and it would not be good for her or for them to let any trace of that continue. Sometimes certain people are not good to keep in our lives--though, at the same time, that does not mean that we need to act out against them. We just need to leave and start our own lives.

Lily James played a graceful character not overdone in her sense of goodness yet still lovely in her desire to be good to whatever people (or animals) come into her life. Richard Madden played well the man in love with her bright outlook that, in turn, makes him willing to change the way he goes about even everyday actions. Cate Blanchett, I didn't know you could laugh so haughtily; you were boldly wonderful. Sophie McShera and Holliday Grainger were so fun to watch that I think they must have had such fun playing their roles. Oh, yes, and we mustn't forget the Lizard Footman--he made me laugh.

Such a lovely score from Patrick Doyle, such lush scenery, and what lovely outfits Sandy Powell put together. The fabric, the patterns, the colors, oh, just gorgeous. The way that the ball gown actually flows and sweeps about, as much like a dream and a cloud as it is in the animated movie, I don't know how she did it. And that wedding gown was gorgeous with all the flowers.

That's how this movie was: just a dream. It was lovely to look at, lovely to watch, and lovely to think about. It was the very essence of Disney and the very essence of the Disney approach to fairy tales. It's a treasure for generations to come.

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