Cinderella – a revamped classic stuns on the big screen

I walked into the theater a little apprehensively. Movie adaptions of the beloved Brothers Grimm’s tale—“Cinderella”—have been done time and time again. From the Disney animated classic to Selena Gomez’s Another Cinderella Story, the characters of Cinderella are reprised again and again. The evil stepmother, her wicked daughters, and the sweet, song-filled princess have made their appearances on the big screen for over fifty years.

And yet, despite having already seen quite a few of the adaptions, I found myself completely drawn in by this 2015 take of Cinderella—this time directed by Kenneth Branagh. The acting, the visuals, and the story-telling all played their part in making this movie a truly magical (sorry for the corniness) experience.

The Actors
Cinderella’s glass slipper shoes are large ones to fill—something her actress Lily James prepared for through research. In one of her interviews, James remarks that she tried searching for Cinderella’s iconic kindness in figures like Gandhi and experiences in her own life.

That sort of effort is incredibly evident in the movie. James channels strength and grace, as her character struggles to remain good in the face of cruelty, while fighting for justice and honoring her late family’s wishes all at the same time. James is phenomenal actress to be able to portray such complexities in Cinderella’s character—all while wearing a torturous corset.

The Visuals
What really drew me in to see this movie was (no, not Frozen Fever!) the beauty of the visuals. The glittering gold carriage, the magnificent house and castle—and let’s not forget about Cinderella’s dress! The moment the fairy godmother’s wand cast twelve layers of silk in varying hues of shimmering blue upon Cinderella, the entire theatre collectively gasped (well, at least I did).

The cast and crew really went all out on creating the scenery and the costumes. Almost every scene felt deliberately composed to have a visually engrossing effect. I had goosebumps running up and down my arms the whole time.

The Story
Is Branagh’s version of Cinderella fit for a modern audience? I would have to answer, yes. When watching the film, I never felt like it was only the prince saving Cinderella. Many times, it was Cinderella saving the prince. Her selflessness and courage inspire the same in him, and she fights for the safety of her kingdom—perhaps not with a sword—but with her own inner beauty, strength, and bravery.

“These qualities make her in charge of her own destiny, make her in charge of her decisions and make her able to withstand such cruelty and still find happiness in life,” says James, in an interview with Lucky. “When she meets the Prince, she’s a strong young woman, and they fall in love as equals.”

In addition to the enormously relevant theme of gender equality, Cinderella also offered added depth to the prince and the evil stepmother’s stories. I couldn’t help but empathize with many of the minor characters in the movie.

That sort of empathy, or understanding, of the characters is what left me in a happy state for the rest of night, reassured that lessons of courage and kindness were still being taught to the next generations through movies. Cinderella’s inner qualities were inspiring and infectious—this is the type of movie everyone should try to learn a positive message from.