Once upon a time, Hollywood remade a classic film. Often when this sentence is uttered, the film is a horribly-made letdown. However, in Cinderella, all truly does end happily ever after.
The new Cinderella definitely varies from the 1950 classic. In this version, everything is live action with CGI animation for Cinderella’s animal friends. There are quite a few noticeable differences from the original, but none that distract from the overall story. In fact, they add to the storyline by answering questions you didn’t even know you had.
The classic film begins by stating that Cinderella lives with her stepmother because her father has died. In the remake, they begin much earlier. The beginning shows a young girl named Ella (Eloise Webb) whose family is the epitome of perfection. Then one day her mother (Hayley Atwell) falls ill and realizes she is very close to death. She makes Ella promise to always “have courage and be kind.” Ella keeps this saying with her throughout the film. It seems to explain why she puts up with her stepmother.
After the tearful moment of Ella’s mother death, the film skips ahead to her teenage years. Ella’s father (Ben Chaplin) asks for permission to remarry to a woman named Lady Tremaine. Ella (now Lily James) allows it because she wants her father to feel happiness. It’s only a few minutes later that one of the most heartbreaking scenes happens. Ella’s father is a travelling merchant and must leave for work again. Ella does not want him to go and makes him promise he will return. He does not.
Ella is then made to live in the attic and take care of her stepmother and stepsisters. They are still just as evil as the original. Anastasia (Holliday Grainger) and Drisella (Sophie McShera) decide to call her Cinderella because she’s a “dirty wench” covered in cinders. As this happens, Lady Tremaine just laughs. Played by the beautiful Cate Blanchette, she is not nearly as scary as the original stepmother, yet still downright bad. Cinderella has her mice to keep her company but they don’t sew nor sing. In fact, this version is not very musical at all. Ella hums a lot but the classic songs aren’t really heard. The one exception is a beautiful instrumental of “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes” during the ball when Cinderella dances with her prince.
This version added a subplot involving her prince that is quite melancholy. In the classic Cinderella, the king wants the prince to marry so he can have grandchildren. In the new version, the king wants the prince to marry because he is dying. The court also wants the prince to marry a princess to help protect their kingdom. This is something the prince, Kit, does not want to do after coming across Cinderella in the forest. He throws the ball so he can see her again.
Overall, Cinderella was wonderfully made. If I did not have a nostalgic attachment to the original I might even say it was better. The amount of detail put into this film was extraordinary. The clothes alone were breathtaking, not to mention the background. With every outfit Lady Tremaine wore, the audience would gasp at its elegance. The acting was also superb. Helena Bonham Carter is the standout with her narration and portrayal of the fairy godmother.
Cinderella is meant for nostalgic adults and children who probably have never even seen the original. The added storylines update it for the modern audience without distracting from the classic tale. A truly magical film.