Director: Kenneth Branagh
Cast: Lily James, Richard Madden, Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham Carter, Stellan Skarsgard, Holliday Grainger, Sophie McShera, Derek Jacobi, Hayley Atwell, Ben Chaplin, Nonso Anozie
Running Time: 113 minutes
Synopsis: Ella (James) finds her blissful and carefree life turned upside down after the tragic deaths of her parents. Left in the care of her new cruel Stepmother (Blanchett) Ella finds herself demoted to Cinderella, a servant for her new family. Not one to give up hope Ella finds here fortune changed after a chance encounter with a handsome and charming young man (Madden). Her Stepmother and Step Sisters however have other plans…
Everyone knows the tale of Cinderella, the downtrodden young woman whose Fairy Godmother helps her achieve her dreams. There have been countless adaptations, both traditional and modern, that have come and gone over the years, but Disney‘s animated version is viewed by many as their favourite account. All that might change now though with Kenneth Branagh’s live action retelling of the classic fairytale.
Branagh of course is no stranger to the period piece, utilising his previous experience to its fullest capacity. In a time where Disney are asking their audiences to rally behind characters such as Maleficent, who has always been the villain of the piece, Branagh brings the focus back onto the princess, in this instance, Cinderella. Whilst not as spunky and sassy as more modern day heroes, Lily James’ incarnation of Cinderella shows a different kind of strength. James’ Cinderella is a dignified, courteous and graceful representation of the long standing fairy tale Princess. This Cinderella lives her life by the mantra – have courage and be kind no matter how badly others may treat you.
In many ways Branagh hasn’t strayed too far from the animation, instead manipulating the cartoon we all grew up watching into a viable and vibrant live action visual. CINDERELLA is a true live-action adaptation of Disney‘s animated classic. Fan favourites Gus and his band of mice make an appearance, as does the devious Lucifer, and there’s also a bippity, boppity boo of a treat from Helena Bonham Carter’s Fairy Godmother. Work is also under way on live action versions of other classic Disney cartoons BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, THE JUNGLE BOOK and PETER PAN. If CINDERELLA is any indication of how faithful these cartoon-to-screen adaptations are going to be then our childhoods are safe.
This film isn’t just a carbon copy of what we have seen before; we see more of Cinderella’s parents than we ever have done before, enabling the audience to feel the same grief and pain as our central character as each passes away. The Prince also gets some plot. In the cartoon The Prince was almost a ‘blink and you’ll miss him’ role, he didn’t even have a name. Here he get’s a name, Kit, a father (Jacobi), a loyal guardsman (Anozie), a devious guardsman (Skarsgard) and a moral conflict; does he marry for love or advantage? This is the same question that plagued Richard Madden’s last jaunt at royalty when he played Rob Stark in Game of Thrones; viewers of the show know all too well that his decision to pick love didn’t turn out all that well.
Through seeing more of the Prince and having him fleshed out almost as much as Cinders it helps aid the tangible believability that these two characters have enough in common to be head over heels in love with one another. Richard Madden does a superb job of acting past the tights, surely the tightest tights since those David Bowie donned for LABYRINTH, and appears every bit as charming as his nickname suggests.
Cate Blanchett (who somehow gets top billing) is expertly cast as Ella’s new Stepmother, and is even given a chance to share with audiences just why she is so cruel. Her viciousness is backed up beautifully by her daughters Anastasia (Grainger) and Drisella (McShera). The pair are comical genius adding humour into some fairly dark scenes of torment.
The entire production oozes richness and enchantment, the vibrant colour scheme making it feel like a storybook brought to life. Similarly the Fairy Godmother scene seems plucked straight out of a child’s imagination and the grand ball is a visually sumptuous delight.
At just shy of two hours, the run time combined with the slightly more grounded approach to the classic tale might be a little too much for the youngest members of the audience to take. Older children (and adults) however will adore CINDERELLA which is simply whimsically magical.
[usr=4] CINDERELLA enchants it’s way into cinemas in the UK from 27th March. Don’t forget to turn up on time or else you’ll miss FROZEN FEVER which is being shown prior to the film.