Grossing over half a billion dollars worldwide, Disney’s live-action Cinderella—unlike South Korea’s 2006 horror film version—is everything you would expect it to be.
Based on the animated classic made in 1950, this movie expands the characters with a new depth, but retains all the things we loved about the original, including the glass slippers, the pumpkin coach, and a cat named after Satan.
This film was actually directed by Kenneth Branagh, who also directed Thor. (And just to clear up any confusion, I’d like to remind everyone that despite our physical similarities, Chris Hemsworth and I are not related.) Along with Kenneth comes the following cast of Brits:
- Lily James (Cinderella) – Lady Rose in PBS’s soap opera in disguise Downton Abbey
- Cate Blanchett (Step-mother) – The Lord of the Rings, How to Train Your Dragon 2, and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (We forgive you for that one, Cate.)
- Stellan Skarsgard (Grand Duke) – Thor and Pirates of the Caribbean movies
- Richard Madden (Prince) – I dunno, some dude
- Sophie McShera (Step-sister) – Daisy in Downton Abbey
- Helena Bonham Carter (Fairy Godmother) –The King’s Speech, Les Miserables, Great Expectations, and of course, as Bellatrix Lestrange in the Harry Potter films
OH, SOMETHING YOU SHOULD KNOW: It’s hard to be happy for Cinderella when you’re waiting for her fairy godmother to scratch her eyeballs out.
This movie isn’t particularly clever, funny, or tear-jerking, but there was something sweet and simple about it that made it a great Sunday movie. I couldn’t put my finger on why I liked it until I came across an interesting article by a Bishop Robert Barron, an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. He noted that “the director manages to tell the familiar fairy tale without any irony, hyper-feminist sub-plots…or arch condescension. In doing so, he actually allows the spiritual—indeed specifically Christian—character of the tale to emerge.”
Whether or not this film is an elaborate Christian allegory I don’t know, but I do know that its overall simplicity and blatant message to “have courage and be kind” captures the virtue any follower of Christ ought to strive for.
As we strive to be more Christlike in spite of difficult circumstances (and, like Christ, in spite of undeserved maliciousness from others), we will develop a love for those around us because we will see them the way Christ sees them.
The closing line of the film sums it up well: “And Ella continued to see the world not as it is, but as it could be, if only you believe in courage and kindness and occasionally just a little bit of magic.”
“In thy childhood thou hast suffered afflictions and much sorrow, because of the rudeness of thy brethren. Nevertheless…thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain.” — 2 Nephi 2:1-2