When I first saw the trailer for Cinderella I shook my head. The trailer basically told the entire story of the movie, a story that has already been told countless times before. The cynic in me took over and I thought that Disney was falling into its old patterns of making substandard movies that should have gone direct to DVD.
But then I started reading some reviews of Cinderella. The reviews were overwhelmingly positive, which piqued my interest. I gave into that interest and saw Cinderella this weekend. It was great.
Kenneth Branagh is best known at The Christian Nerd for directing the original Thor. I really liked Thor and how it was a smaller and more intimate super hero movie. Branagh, who had mostly directed Shakespeare movies, brought the intimacy of a stage play to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
With Cinderella Branagh captured the magic of the 1950 animated classic while adequately updating and expanding the story. Branagh’s hit all of the beats of the animated movie and hit them so well. Cate Blanchet was extremely wicked as the wicked stepmother, Helena Bonham Carter was magical as the Fairy Godmother and Richard Madden was captivatingly charming as Prince Charming.
Cinderella did well with what was expected and created different layers with the plotlines it added. Adding Cinderella’s mother to the story provided a lot more depth to Cinderella’s character. Also, adding the relationship between the prince and his father to the story made the prince more than just a pretty face.
Here are some other thoughts I had while watching the movie.
Have Courage and Be Kind
“Have courage and be kind” are five words that greatly influence Cinderella’s life. In spite of everything that she is forced to endure: the death of her mother, the death of her father and her wicked stepmother, Cinderella attempts to have courage and to be kind. In the movie Cinderella lives out this motto without any angst or cynicism; she simply wants to be courageous and kind. I actually found her example inspiring; my life has been relatively easy compared to Cinderella’s and I’m not nearly as kind. The Bible is filled with commands of “fear not” and “be kind.” So even if we’re not a potential princess with a wicked stepfamily, we should still strive to have courage and be kind.
Every person has value and no one deserves to be treated like Cinderella was treated. Even though I knew Cinderella would live happily ever after, I kept waiting for the moment when the prince would slip the glass slipper on her foot and her life would be transformed. Even if Cinderella wasn’t so kind and brave, I still would have wanted better for her. No one deserves to be treated as subhuman, even the wicked stepmother who was so inhumane. We are all created in God’s image and have inherent value as his creations. We should strive to see that in ourselves and in others, treating them appropriately.
One of the overarching themes of the reviews I read for Cinderella was that its charm destroyed any cynicism. I admitted that I was cynical when I first saw the trailer, but that cynicism melted away once the movie started. The story of good and love triumphing over evil and hatred was so simple; I was happy just to go along for the ride. The Internet has elevated the level of snark and cynicism in all of our lives. It was nice to leave that behind for two hours and allow myself to be transported to a world of goodness, beauty and love. The sad thing is, Jesus is trying to turn me into a person of goodness, beauty and love, but too often my snarkiness and cynicism overshadow those qualities.
I didn’t see last summer’s Maleficent, but I can’t imagine it being better than Cinderella. Cinderella was a gorgeous movie filled with a beauty that went below the surface. I may not remember the 1950 animated version, but I won’t be able to forget the updated version.
What did you think of Cinderella?