Reviewed by: Denica McCall
having courage and being kind, even when suffering
celebrating purity and innocence
oppression / being at the mercy of a cruel new family
difficulty of being a servant instead of a family member—and the importance of Cinderella’s serving with dignity and kindness, instead of responding with mean words and actions
Cinderella’s happiness results from being good, pure, kind and forgiving. The stepmother’s unhappiness comes from being rude, cruel and jealous.
true ugliness—and beauty—are on the inside, not the outside
forgiving those who harm us instead of seeking revenge
difficulty of losing a mother, and wife
purpose of fairy tales
|Featuring:||Lily James … Cinderella
Hayley Atwell … Cinderella's Mother
Helena Bonham Carter … Fairy Godmother
Richard Madden … Prince Charming
Cate Blanchett … Lady Tremaine
Holliday Grainger … Anastasia
Sophie McShera … Drizella
Stellan Skarsgård … Grand Duke
Nonso Anozie … Captain
Derek Jacobi … The King
Ben Chaplin … Cinderella's Father
Rob Brydon … Painter
Eloise Webb … Young Ella
|Director:||Kenneth Branagh—“Thor,” “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit”|
|Producer:||Walt Disney Pictures|
|Distributor:||Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures|
“Have courage and be kind”
Last night my mom and I went to the theater and ended up in a room full of giggly girls of varying ages, excited to see the newest version of the very classic Cinderella story. I enjoyed the feeling of nostalgia that seemed to permeate the atmosphere. Sure, nowadays there seems to be an endless amount of remakes, almost to the point of overkill. But this film was different. I feel like it resurrected something of simplicity and purity from the past, and I found the experience quite refreshing.
Most of us know the Cinderella story chiefly from the Disney cartoon that came out in 1950. This is a live action remake of the story, holding to its main themes pretty well. It’s the tale of a young girl named Ella who grows up in her parents’ farmhouse and who is deeply loved by them both. Sorrow enters the household when Ella’s mother dies from illness, and her mother’s last “commission” to Ella is that she would always “have courage and be kind.”
Ella holds to this promise out of love and respect for her mother; then, when she is a young woman, she gives her father her loving blessing for him to marry a widower and take her and her two daughters into their household. Ella’s new stepmother (Cate Blanchett) seeks to take over and run the household. She takes especial advantage of her position and of Ella during the times Ella’s father is away on business.
While on one of his trips, her father falls ill and dies, and Ella is left heartbroken. Her stepmother and sisters begin to treat her with even more cruelty in the absence of the one who truly loved her and make her into their household slave, instead of a member of the family. She is treated unjustly and cruelly.
One day, she tries to run away and unknowingly meets the prince in the woods, and they have an initial attraction. He later announces a ball in which he will choose a bride (by insistence of his ailing father), and invites not only the nobility to attend but every class of citizen in hopes he might meet Ella again.
The rest of the story is familiar, but, as I stated, there are many things about this remake that I find especially refreshing. The themes of courage and kindness are very prominent throughout. I appreciate how they focus on Ella’s relationship with her stepmother and sisters and how she deals with their cruelty. She doesn’t let the “labels” they put on her, or what they tried to make her into, define her. She remembers who she is, a daughter deeply loved by her mother and father, someone who has value.
She recognizes that other people can’t tell her who she is. This is such a powerful truth for all of us. There will always be people who try to put us in their box or tell us who we are, but if we know the truth, that we are sons and daughters living in our Heavenly Father’s affection, we won’t be moved or changed by their hurtful words and actions. They also did a great job of showing the contrast between the way Ella handled her grief versus her stepmother. Ella chooses courage and forgiveness, while her stepmother chooses to inflict her own pain on others and remains bitter.
I like the mention of the fact that if it were not for the cruelty of her step-family, Ella would have never run away and met the prince in the woods—which turns into the ultimate happy ending for her. God often uses our sufferings to bring us into good and beautiful places in life, so this is a great reminder.
Finally, the theme of forgiveness is portrayed quite powerfully in the film, where Ella very sincerely forgives her stepmother at the end.
The only objectionable content (with children in mind) is as follows: Many of the ladies show cleavage in the way they were dressed. In one scene, there is a fresco shown briefly in the palace that shows a lot of half naked people. And when we first meet Ella’s fairy godmother, it is very dark, and she appears a bit scary, until she transforms herself into a beautiful woman in a white dress. When Ella escapes from the palace after the ball, the scene may be intense for little ones. There is a scene in Ella’s house where her stepmother is having a party, and they are gambling. There is virtually no violence, no language, and only one kiss is shown, which is after Ella and the prince are wed.
I love this quote toward the end of the film: “Perhaps the greatest risk any of us will ever take is to be seen for who we truly are.” Ella has to make this choice to defy the lies of the ones who have tried to make her into something she is not in order to present herself to the prince. She has to have the courage to come to him as she is, in her dirty rags and without a high position in society, trusting that he’ll love her simply for who she is. So many of us pretend to be something we’re not to gain the love we desire. But being shamelessly who we are is the ultimate place of freedom.
I definitely recommend this film for families with children ages five and up. It is a sweet, well done and refreshing classic brought back to life for our day and age.
Violence: Mild / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: Mild
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.