Live-action ‘Cinderella’ proves to be the perfect fit


photo by Kim Rooney

Cinderella, like other Disney live-action films, puts a twist on the original tale.

By Kim Rooney, Production Editor

Cinderella’s infamous glass slippers have seen the silver screen six times since the movie’s original release in 1950, but Disney fans never seem to tire of them.

After theatrical successes Maleficent and Into the Woods, Disney continues its live-action trend with the release of Cinderella, directed by Academy Award nominee Kenneth Branagh (Thor), in theaters March 13.

“There was not one second that didn’t enchant me,” junior Jillian Tyson said. “It is more magical than I can ever put into words. Out of all the Disney live-action remakes, this is by far the best.”

While Maleficent garnered attention for its progressive views of the good-evil dichotomy, Disney seems to be retreating back into its conservative foundations, sticking to the old-fashioned classic with which many grew up and fell in love.

“It’s really interesting that Disney is remaking some of the classic movies into live-action films,” senior Emma Tower said. “It’s kind of cool to see your favorite characters back on the screen in a new and different way.”

Disney was so confident in Cinderella’s success that the teaser trailer it released May 2014 was a minute-long clip of the glass slipper. That was all Disney fans got until November 2014, when Disney released the first of two full-length trailers featuring scenes laced with magic and beauty that bring the classic fairytale into the 21st century.

“The special effects and costumes look amazing,” Tower said. “I can’t wait to see the whole thing.”

Although Cinderella is often thought of as among the most conservative Disney classics, with Prince Charming saving Cinderella from her abusive family, fans have held hopes that Disney will continue in its progressive trend.

“It seems like the trailers mostly portray parts of the movie that are the same as the original fairytale,” sophomore Jenna Wang said. “I wish they would have shown more new twists they put on the story—maybe it’s their way of keeping it so that we would have a surprise.”

While there were not many surprises, the plot and characters were enhanced to add personality and depth. Instead of the one-dimensional caricatures that have become staples for fairy tales—handsome princes, evil stepmothers, innocent girls—Cinderella shows more of each character, making them more believable and ultimately more enjoyable to watch.

“They were all well-placed changes,” junior Jillian Tyson said. “It kept all the heart and magic of the original, and I’m honestly so happy it was remade the way it was—it’s a newer version of the classic tale, but no less magical.

If Disney had any doubts about Cinderella’s success, it compensated with a well-known cast; Cinderella features Lily James (Downton Abbey) as Cinderella, Helena Bonhom Carter (Harry Potter) as the Fairy Godmother, Richard Madden (Game of Thrones) as Prince Charming, Cate Blanchett (Lord of the Rings) as Lady Tremaine and Hayley Atwell (Agent Carter) as Cinderella’s mother.

“Richard Madden looks about as charming as they come, and the Lily James looks just like Cinderella,” Tower said. “Also, Cate Blanchett was a fabulous casting choice for the evil stepmother.”

With seasoned actors and actresses playing the lead roles, it’s no surprise that the characters seemed to come to life on screen. Each showed incredible emotional and acting range without crossing the border into sentimentality, and the few occasions where they did were well-placed and understandable considering the character’s personalities.

“The acting, just like everything else in the movie, was impressive,” Hertz said. “Cate Blanchett and Lily James were outstanding. Blanchett’s acting as Cinderella’s stepmother was realistic and solid. Lily James also did great. She made me feel like it wasn’t even an act.”

The special effects, costumes and set design only served to enhance the movie. The costumes and set design were both lovely; intricate details keep the audience captivated every moment, and the special effects were truly magical. The movie did the dress transformation sequence justice, and Walt Disney would smile seeing his favorite piece of animation brought to life.

“I have never seen costumes quite like them, and every outfit I saw caught my eye in one way or another—even on background characters,” Tyson said. “The set was more beautiful than I can describe. The kingdom and palace were huge. I felt like I was there!

One possible disappointment could be the lack of actual singing in the movie. Unlike Into the Woods, it was not a true movie musical, but it featured a lighthearted lullaby sung by Cinderella and her mother. Versions of original songs “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes” and “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo” are also included in the end credits, sung by Lily James and Helena Bonham Carter, respectively. However, the score followed the ups and downs of the movie perfectly, from Cinderella’s escape to her dancing alone in the attic.

“I felt swept up in all the power the music supplied,” Tyson said. “Every moment was perfectly timed with music that made you feel joy or sorrow or desperation or hope.”

With a modern remake bringing the story and the magic back to the forefront of fans’ minds, Cinderella was and remains a Disney classic.

“I’ve watched it so many times since I was a little girl, and have continued to watch it as I’ve grown up,” Miller said. “I believe Cinderella is a fantastic role model who teaches little girls to keep on dreaming and believe in themselves.”