‘Cinderella’ versus ‘Ever After’

U/PG, Walt Disney Pictures

Feel-better Rating Heypressto Feel-better rating icon 2 out of 5

Pleasant, if bland, remake with actors of the Disney cartoon classic. If you haven’t spotted the logo in the opening credits you’ll pick up the echoes of the animation in the name of the outsize anthropomorphic mouse, Gus Gus, the cat Lucifer and the Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo.

Cinderella stars eye-catching cinematography, featuring a breath-taking zoom out from the king up over his monument of a bed, and the wide spaces of the palace grounds. It is beautifully lit and full of painterly tableaux.

The female stars are gorgeously costumed especially the imaginatively kitted-out Wicked Stepmother in 19th century but 50’s-inspired gowns which keep you wondering how a lady of straightened means has the budget to squander on such sartorial splendour. A nice touch is the ugly sisters in maxi-length poodle skirts and sweaters. Cinderella’s ball dress is all one would expect and wish. The Fairy Godmother describes the glass slippers as comfortable, which undoubtedly certifies them as magical. Visually Cinderella is a delight.

Lily James has all the more charm for not being conventionally beautiful and she fleshes out the Disney character of Cinderella. The script also supplies a back-story for the Wicked Stepmother that gives some sympathetic insight into her current mindset and general lack of heartset. Cate Blanchet is effective in the part and Helena Bonham-Carter creates a pantomime dame of a Fairy Godmother minus the rounded maternal corners of the cartoon incarnation.

Derek Jacobi plays the king with dignity and kindness. By encouraging his son eventually to choose a local bride rather than seek a foreign alliance he affirms the importance of looking for strength within.

One or two of the small children in the audience of about 40 who occupied most of the bijoux screen 2 at the local Odeon, were upset by the ruin of Cinderella’s mother’s dress. One even said she wanted to go home. It also may have been a little long for its young audience who were fidgeting long before the happy ever after. Incidentally, I was pleasantly surprised by how many men were among the parents and boys among the children.

Unaware of the Disney influence I was expecting something more profound from such a creative and innovative director as Kenneth Brannagh. The moral of the film, to have courage and be kind, is admirable but how it is expressed by Cinderella may not entirely harmonise with modern assertive values. Short of one of my movie buddies I asked one of the staff who had seen the move for her appraisal. She too had been expecting more, especially a deeper exploration of the relationship between the Prince, or Kit, the apprentice, as she first believes him to be and Cinderella.

To be fair, I watched some other versions beginning with a modern-day offering, A Cinderella Story, set in a North American high school and have to say found it more relevant and entertaining. The original Disney cartoon still retains it period charm, with its entertaining mice, comforting fairy godmother and memorable songs. Among the morals of the story is the power of visualising a desired outcome, which is now a widely accepted technique for success in any area of life.

However, the favourite was Ever After, made in 1998, set in 19th century France with the talents of Drew Barrymore, Anjelica Huston and Dougray Scott. Writer/director Andy Tennant gives us a Cinderella for our times, an active, even action heroine, self-determined and self-rescuing. This Cinderella’s application of the mantra of ‘have courage and be kind’ expresses itself more actively than Brannagh’s principal. Furthermore, Scott gives us a flesh-and-blood prince and the story addresses issues of royal responsibility and freedom.

In short, if you want to buy a pay-per-view film or DVD of this genre, I would recommend investing in Ever After or if you’re set on an animation, Brave or Tangled. However this latest version of Cinderella is still worth a couple of hours on a rainy afternoon watched on a free channel.

About the Author Chartreuse

Chartreuse is a freelance writer, editor, photographer and promotional videographer. She has written a feel-better film review column for Heath & Happiness Magazine, and is the owner of Heypressto. Chartreuse’ greatest inspiration is Abraham-Hicks. Her favourite quote is ‘You can be, do or have anything you want’.

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