Repeat Watch: Cinderella (2015)
Cinderella, Disney’s first live-action adaptation of a classic animated film, was released theatrically on March 13, 2015. The film was directed by the illustrious Kenneth Branagh, and the screenplay was written by Chris Weitz. Lily James portrayed the character of Cinderella with Game of Thrones’ Richard Madden portraying Prince Kit. The film also boasted Cate Blanchett as Lady Tremaine, Helena Bonham Carter as the Fairy Godmother, and Stellan Skarsgård as the Grand Duke. Cinderella went on to receive positive critical reviews and gross over $543 million worldwide. Most notably, though, it set the stage for countless live-action adaptations to be approved in its wake and has earned its place in the arena of movies worth watching again.
1) A Royal Upgrade
Obviously, Cinderella has been a beloved animated film for years, which is why they took the risk in adapting it first, but this story really outdoes its predecessor. Branagh and Weitz took that classic tale, which has several other adaptations, and gave its characters and their journeys more depth. Cinderella isn’t just rescued by a handsome prince in this version; her character and kindness are exhibited throughout every circumstance she faces. They even give context for her name, and let’s face it, Cinderella has always been an odd name.
They also take the time to expand the characters of the prince and Cinderella’s evil stepmother. First of all, the prince actually gets a name in this film. His name is Kit, and he’s played by the talented Robb Stark…errr, I mean Richard Madden. Not only does he receive a name in this version; he also receives a heartwarming story and arc. He doesn’t just save Cinderella; in a sweet twist, she ends up saving him as well. It’s a lovely twist on that classic fairytale approach. Also, the casting for Lady Tremaine was an inspired choice, and Blanchett brings not only a sinister side to the role but a personal note as well as you realize her motivations behind the choices she makes.
2) Endearing Themes
Not only is it an upgrade in terms of story, this film is also an upgrade in the realm of themes and lessons. Seriously, this movie has some of the most quotable themes, and I absolutely adore that about it. Cinderella’s mother tells us, “I have to tell you a secret that will see you through all the trials that life can offer. Have courage and be kind.” Couldn’t we all stand to remember that bit of advice? Cinderella reminds Kit and ultimately the audience that, “Just because it's what's done doesn't mean it's what should be done.” Then, Cinderella’s fairy godmother even says at the end, “The greatest risk any of us will take is to be seen as we are.” These words are endearing, encouraging, and give weight to this story of grace and endurance in the midst of mistreatment.
3) It’s Seriously Magical
To be perfectly honest, there’s no other way to describe this movie other than magical. The set design is breathtaking, and that golden carriage was staggeringly gorgeous. The cinematography only added to the magical nature of the film and helped make it into this sweeping, whimsical tale. All of the costumes for this adaption from Cinderella’s stunning blue dress to the Parisian style of Lady Tremaine are absolutely inspired. Perhaps the most magical part of this film, though, is Lily James. Her performance in itself was beautifully innocent and magnetic, and without her casting, I don’t think Cinderella would have been quite as much of a success.
This is a film I put on at least once a week, and it is one of those feel good, restore your hope in humanity kind of films. Also, while I enjoy the new Beauty and the Beast and adore Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book, Cinderella has been my favorite of the live-action adaptations so far. She might not have been my favorite princess growing up, but I have found this version to be a sweet and uplifting tale. It has edged its way into one of my favorite films, and I hope you find it to be just as enjoyable as I do.
Mollie is a film enthusiast, aspiring writer/screenwriter, and a lover of all things Harry Potter, Star Wars, and Doctor Who. She is the co-founder of The Digital Shore (@thedigitalshore) and Above The Line (@atl_movies). You can follow her many adventures through Twitter and Instagram at @mcbeach.