Cinderella: When magic and dreams turn into reality
The newest adaption of Cinderella is doing well so far because its “twist” is that it has no twist. It delivers the story that we are all well aware of all in a refreshingly simple and touching manner, thus distancing itself from the recent slew of angst ridden fairy tale adaptations such as Into the Woods and Maleficent.
Directed by Kenneth Branagh – who previously directed Thor – manages to lay the emphasis on creating a magical journey for the viewers, with the addition of resplendent gowns and grand sets certainly making it a visual delight.
Newcomer Lily James adds sincerity to her role as Cinderella, and coupled with Richard Madden’s charming portrayal of the Prince, the couple execute even the most melodramatic of scenes with finesse.
The step-sisters, played by Holliday Grainger and Sophie McShera, do all they can to make the audience thoroughly dislike them and you get a sense that they are simply a by-product of their upbringing. Garbed in magnificent gowns and a scowl that would scare most mortals, Cate Blanchett, is a nightmare and is terrific as the evil stepmother.
But the movie makes sure not to make us hate her completely for under her cold veneer lies an ocean of insecurity, stemming from the fear of destitution that faced all single women of her time. Even Cinderella, in the end, is dependent on the Prince to rescue her from poverty.
Most of all, the actors enact the scenes with an earnestness that is in line with the central theme of the story – kindness always pays off and evil never triumphs over good.
Adding strength to the movie are the luscious set designs by Oscar-winning production designer, Dante Ferretti, who paints each scene in candy-coloured strokes, from Cinderella’s first ball to her meeting with the Prince.
The scene where she is transformed from rags to riches is particularly portrayed brilliantly, showcasing an exquisite resplendence only Disney can afford.
My favourite part, however, were the incredible costumes. From Cinderella’s glass slipper to her ball gown, it has all the stuff little girls’ dreams are made of. The Prince also wears some remarkable embroidered coats designed by our very own Maheen Khan. The costumes lend a dream-like quality to the film, plunging the viewers into a lush fantasy land which, as unrealistic as it might seem, is great fun to watch.
On the whole, the movie, which opened to an astonishing $70 million, depicts the fairy tale accurately as it does not try to be different. It understands its source material and does not malign or ‘upgrade’ it for a modern audience; it aims to give viewers a dose of old-fashioned fun, and that is its greatest strength.
Considering how cynical today’s audience is, making a movie premised on the importance of kindness and love is no easy feat, but Cinderella does it anyway with an artlessness that makes it hard to dislike.
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