I’m a sucker for fairytale retellings. My favorite being Cinderella.
What fascinates me about fairytales is that, even though the stories are hundreds of years old, they are still being told. They hold a valuable place as cultural markers. The stories a culture tells speak volumes about the culture’s values, customs, and fears. All fairytales have their core elements. Sleeping Beauty pricks her finger, Snow White eats the apple, Rapunzel is saved from her tower by a handsome prince.
The thing about adaptations is that they tweak the core elements of a fairy tale. Changes are significant because they reveal the values, customs, and fears of culture today. It’s amazing how we can tell a story can be told for hundreds of years and continue to find new ways to tell it. What if Snow White didn’t eat the apple? What if Sleeping Beauty never pricked her finger? What would happen if Rapunzel wasn’t saved, but left of her own volition with not a prince, but an outlaw?
As you may know, I’ve been looking forward to Disney’s new Cinderella for a long time. (See posts here and here for my anticipation). I caught wind of the film three years ago and have been following its production ever since.
With adaptations like the book Ella Enchanted or the movie Ever After out there, what’s so special about this movie? Well, it’s a remake of the animated movie. And I HATE the animated movie. I think it’s one of the worst adaptations out there. So I was excited for Disney to have a chance to redeem itself.
I saw the movie yesterday and, for the most part, I agree with many of the critics. Disney played it pretty safe. It’s your traditional Cinderella tale with all the elements: dead parents, evil stepmother, stupid stepsisters, forced servitude, fairy godmother, a pumpkin coach, leave before midnight, forget the slipper, etc. etc. etc. They fleshed out the characters a bit, but it’s nowhere near as convincing as the development in Ever After.
Did Disney redeem itself, though? Absolutely. What the movie lacks in innovation is more than made up for in how stunningly beautiful it is. Everything about the film is gorgeous–from the costumes to the sets to the dashing Richard Madden as the prince.
My favorite part of the entire movie was probably Cate Blanchett’s performance as Lady Tremaine. Her costumes were stunning and every line was delivered with the perfect level of poison. I’d pay to see it again just to soak in her villainy.
To be honest, if I think too hard about this movie, I’m pretty sure I’ll make myself dislike it. (My inner feminist can’t deny that the heroine of this adaptation is ridiculously passive.) So, for once in my life, I’m not going to let myself think. It’s the kind of movie that is made to be enjoyed. You watch it, feel warm fuzzies, and then go on with life. I’m determined to sit back, soak in the prettiness, and daydream about Richard Madden’s smile.
To my Cinderella fans out there–what did you think of the movie? Let me know in the comments!