Cinderella is a fairytale treat
IN A MOVIE era where stories are rehashed with a sly nod and a knowing wink, there is something really refreshing about Cinderella’s sense of traditionalism.
Director Kenneth Branagh is too wise to mess with a classic.
That’s not to say there isn’t a huge amount of inventiveness going on in this gorgeous-looking big-screen adaptation.
It’s a film full of the old-school studio magic of another era, bettered by special effects which serve to enhance rather than swamp the film.
Branagh’s been smart, too, in casting relative unknown Lily James as the fresh-faced Cinders, rather than some big Hollywood star. She’s absolutely charming in the central role.
We all know the story of Cinderella, but this big-screen version brings a new sense of drama and colour to the tale.
There are no pantomime baddies to be found here – the sisters Drizella and Anastasia are neither ugly nor, initially, cruel.
And Cate Blanchett does a marvellous job of humanising the wicked stepmother while occasionally displaying just what a nasty piece of work she can be.
When the trio arrive at the home Ella shares with her father, the atmosphere between them is initially one of misunderstanding.
It’s only when Ella’s father tragically dies while on a trip overseas that their relationship gradually disintegrates and Ella effectively becomes a domestic slave, nicknamed Cinderella by her step-sisters.
There’s real romance, too, in the development of the relationship between Cinderella and the handsome prince. The scene where they first meet in the forest is charming, with the prince, bemused that she has no idea who he is, introducing himself simply as Kit.
Helena Bonham Carter, meanwhile, shows up as her fairy godmother in one of the film’s funniest and most impressive scenes.
Cinema’s fascination with Cinderella is almost as long as cinema itself – George Melies used trick photography to tell her story way back in 1899. Walt Disney’s 1950 animated version is justifiably regarded as the best take on the story, but Branagh’s new film – released by Disney – serves as a worthy bedfellow to that classic.
It’s a beautiful, dazzling film, lavish in scope and scale without ever sacrificing the simplicity and romance of this wonderful story. If you have small people, treat them. If not, treat yourself anyway.
Cinderella (G) HHHH