Last year, I said that I would write a post about Kenneth Branagh’s film Cinderella and I have not yet fulfilled that promise. The blog post I shared in my previous Cinderella post is so wonderful that I dug myself into a hole trying to top it.
If you haven’t already, you should definitely watch Cinderella. It’s a gorgeous spectacle, a lovely story, and will surprise you at how skillfully this well-known story is retold. When I went into the theater last year to watch this film for the first time, I expected to enjoy it based on the fact that Cinderella was my favorite Disney princess when I was younger. When I left the theater, my cheeks were tear-streaked and I felt a wonderful lightening of heart. I knew Kenneth Branagh was a good director, but after seeing this film, I am convinced I will like any film he has made or will make in the future. Not only was Branagh brilliant, but the costumes designed by Sandy Powell were beautiful, dreamy, creative, colorful, and a wonderful mixture of historical accuracy and artistic fairy-tale-story license. Patrick Doyle‘s music is a fairy tale in itself, fitting the film perfectly. His music nearly always sounds like it comes from a fairy-tale; his use of strings makes it magical. And then there’s Dante Ferretti, whose sets are exquisitely and expensively extravagant, detailed, and lush. This film is such a rich experience for the senses that it seems you can taste it.
But beyond this sensory extravagance, the film remains very simple. It’s the Cinderella story we all know – girl left at home to wait upon her evil stepmother and petty stepsisters meets a charming prince, goes to a ball where she loses her glass slipper, and is finally reunited with the prince after he has searched the entire kingdom for someone whose foot fits the shoe (she must have very oddly-shaped feet). Normally these days, if a film is made to retell a story this well-known, some kind of change is made so it is more politically correct, more relevant to modern times, more eccentric, or somehow beyond reality. But Branagh kept his film refreshingly simple. The basics of the story remained the same and you were able to feast on the meat of the story. In this adaptation, Cinderella is a strong character who remains at home not because she’s too weak to leave her stepmother, but because she promised her parents that she would always cherish the home they had together. Instead of being the weak, trapped 1950s housewife you see in the animated movie, she is strong, courageous, and kind. She wasn’t waiting around for the prince to come save her; she honestly didn’t seem to need the prince, except that he did get her out of her terrible home situation and seemed to share fundamental beliefs and desires with her. But in this Cinderella, the story about Cinderella and her prince is not the central theme of the story. The film focuses more on having courage and being kind; on remaining strong in what you believe is right, good, and true; on deep, lasting love; and finally on forgiveness.
That last part was so powerful. Cinderella actually tells her stepmother that she forgives her. She is able to put herself in her stepmother’s shoes, and through her deep compassion for others (both people and animals), she is able to understand her stepmother’s motives for being so cruel and forgives her. The fact that, through it all, she still gets the prince probably helps her forgive her stepmother more readily. But don’t worry, Cinderella does not let her stepmother beat her down; she says some harsh words to her, saying, “Why are you so cruel?” and, “You have never been, and you never will be, my mother.” She stands up for herself and proves that she is the better person for her ability to forgive and be kind, unlike her stepmother’s never-dwindling grudges.
When I saw Cinderella, I was in a very low place in life. I felt stuck in a job where my passions and talents were not used and my mind was not stimulated. I felt trapped in an industry I didn’t like and every day I went home to an apartment where I lived alone in a tiny town separated from the friends I enjoyed most. This film kicked me back into my senses and helped me realize that my story did not stop there. I did not have to stay stuck in my situation; I could follow my dreams. Cinderella reminded me again that dreams are not something only little kids can do; you can dream at any age. The only thing that was keeping me from pursuing my dreams was that courageous first step. So I quit my job. Was it courage or was it impulse? I guess it was a little of both.
- I said that I would write a post: https://soarwithlaughter.com/2015/05/06/beauty-truth-and-goodness-in-fairytale-form/
- Cinderella: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinderella_(2015_Disney_film)
- Kenneth Branagh: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenneth_Branagh
- Sandy Powell: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandy_Powell_(costume_designer)
- Patrick Doyle: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patrick_Doyle
- Dante Ferretti: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dante_Ferretti
- sensory extravagance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-qOgm1sLP0
- forgiveness: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6LOGzfAtfN8
- Why are you so cruel?”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxiFzp-fK_M
- “You have never been, and you never will be, my mother.”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1sOj0IfGCzI
- This story will be continued in the next post: https://soarwithlaughter.com/2017/05/11/the-first-step/
Read from the beginning: https://soarwithlaughter.com/2014/09/02/soar-cloud-high/