Disney’s 2015 live-action version of Cinderella was highly satisfactory for a children’s movie all about “having courage and kindness.” It maintained very close resemblance to Disney’s animated film, but showed more depth. We still have sweet singing, friendly mice (even though they don’t talk, but sometimes their chatter could be mistaken as speech), and of course great magic.
In this version of Cinderella, the audience is being told a bedtime story. Because it’s a children’s movie, the narrator adds rather than detracts to the story. The movie is simply our imagination come to life for us to see. Here we learn that Cinderella’s real name is Ella and we get to meet her real mother, who dies early in her life and gives her daughter the best of advice a mother could give to her sweet child, “have courage and be kind, for there is magic inside you.” (I paraphrased, but it’s close enough.) We also get a more complex stepmother who everyone except Ella’s father sees as cunning and advantageous, but in his defense Ella’s father isn’t home often enough to really get to know his new wife. This stepmother only wants what’s best for her daughters and it’s too bad that her good intentions turn evil.
Ella’s life slowly turns from merchant’s daughter to scullery maid. One of Ella’s low points is when her cruel, but comic relief, stepsisters rename her Cinderella. And of course her major low point is when her step-family rips her dress to shreds before the royal ball.
The relationship with the prince is also more developed in this story, though it reminded me much of Drew Barrymore’s Ever After, where Cinderella and the prince meet not knowing each others stations and talk politics. The fairy godmother is a more wacky than your average fairy godmother, which adds an element of fun when we see Cinderalla’s pumpkin turn into a coach and the farm animals turn into horses, drivers, and footmen and then turn back again when the day is up. The magic of the glass slipper is more pronounced and over the top, which lightens the mood considerably.
The only part of the movie I did not understand was when the prince asks Ella for her name at the end why does she says “Cinderella” and not her true name “Ella?” Did she accept the mean name given to her by her false family as her own? Or did she say it because… well this is the story of Cinderella after all. But this is just an unresolved story nitpick.
Disney’s live-action Cinderella is a sweet, rich princess movie to add to your little girl’s movie list.