I first fell in love with the trailer: the heavy gold carriage that takes Cinderella to the ball looks like it could be encased in the gold foil of a chocolate coin. It’s very extravagant and enticing, and the design of the film lives up to that promise.
The plot points follow closely with Charles Perrault’s Cendrillon, much like the earlier Disney animation. Cinderella’s fairy godmother gets her to the ball, despite her stepmother and two stepsisters. However, Ella has already met Kit, the movie’s prince charming, and believes he works as a palace apprentice. This tryst in the woods gives their relationship more development. There’s additional backstory and several popular questions are answered, such as why her stepfamily cannot recognize her at the ball (the fairy godmother takes care of it magically).
As in the Perrault story, Ella works hard but she doesn’t have to perform any ridiculous/impossible tasks such as picking lentils out of the ashes. Yet there is a special reference to the Grimm’s German version, when Ella asks her father to bring her back the first branch which brushes his shoulder. I think it’s lovely the filmmakers made this extra effort to bring in diverse folklore elements.
In one of the movie’s most ironic lines, the fairy godmother notices Ella’s shoes, to which she replies, “It’s all right, no one will see them.” For a tale originally subtitled “The Little Glass Slipper”, it’s no surprise that the fairy godmother delivers glass slippers anyway, complete with butterflies. Her magnificent ball gown has the butterflies too. Does anyone know if there’s a connection for why those were chosen? Even if they were just fabricated by the designers, they make pretty embellishments. The blue ball gown doesn’t try to mimic the earlier animation, but instead adds its own glamour, while the hooped skirt swishes mesmerizingly.
The movie emphasizes Cinderella’s good character, instead of focusing only on her looks. Her mother’s dying words, “Have courage and be kind,” becomes the refrain guiding all of Ella’s actions. I think this is a great message, especially when so many young children are drawn to fairytale films. It shows how Cinderella is trying to live up to her mother’s example. The way the stepmother pushes her into servitude by adding on requests over time makes that relationship feel more realistic.
Unlike the animation, this version is not a musical. However, the soundtrack has an enchanting quality to match the movie. It does incorporate one song that Ella and her mother each sing in snatches, the rhyme “Lavender’s Blue” which I featured in this post.
I definitely want to watch this Cinderella more than once! I’d love to hear your thoughts on it too.