My Thoughts on Cinderella

the forgetful one who loses her shoe
– King

So I watched Cinderella last Thursday, and OMG, it was so beautiful! I’m so EXCITED to talk about it right now so I’m just gonna run through details and my thoughts on the movie. I’m (still) overwhelmed with emotions.

First off, cinematography was incredible. Locations for each scene were just perfect and that panoramic view of Prince Charming’s (Richard Madden) kingdom is legit. If the decor of the King’s (Derek Jacobi) room, design of the halls, and that scene of the Prince getting a portrait of himself weren’t enough to project a regal image, then that wide shot would. A wide courtyard, tall pillars, landscaped gardens, gorgeous fountain, and a grand gate.

Also, the scene where Fairy Godmother (Helena Bonham Carter) casted her spells in Cinderella’s (Lily James)yard was also, to my opinion, beautifully shown. Transformations of animals for the carriage weren’t overly done nor were they too toned down. I absolutely loved the effects they did for the pumpkin and Cinderella’s dress. It’s MAGICAL!

Props were also so beautiful. I’ve always had a thing for furniture, pieces, tapestry, and decor of 19th century, and this movie was definitely a delight in interior design. I can say every piece in a room was very carefully thought of. Mirrors in Cinderella’s parlor and attic were all pieces we could use in a modern style, but placed together with duvet and old tea sets, it all looked vintage. Certainly, decor like these became even more mainstream with Downton Abbey’s popularity. Yet, I don’t think I liked the feel of the yellow, flowered wallpaper they used in one of the rooms.

Although I thought the dancing hall could use some more space, I still think whole place looked bright and gold–even with guests in assorted colors of dresses. Gold stood out, in contrast with Cinderella’s blue ball gown, which I think was also very fitting for royal image. The candles (so many!) for the chandeliers and how they had to be pulled up was also a scene I particularly liked.

And speaking of ball gowns, I think the wardrobe team, headed by Sandy Powell, did a splendid job with all the attires featured in the film. I believe the costumes for this movie speak so much of the character. Lady Tremaine’s (Cate Blanchett) dresses evoke a strong and commanding presence in Cate Blanchett. Stark colors for Anastasia’s (Holliday Grainger)and Drizella’s (Sophie McShera) screamed playfulness, youth, and crazy personality.

Both their ball gowns blew me away. It wasn’t extremely ugly, but I wouldn’t be caught wearing it out of the house either. To me, it was ridiculous. The group sitting behind me at the theatre commented that Anastasia and Drizella looked like they were off to compete for gowns made of recycled materials. I think that was a pretty strong comment for dresses like that. I must admit though that one of the flowers on Drizella’s dress left a lasting impression.

Most importantly, let’s take a moment to admire Cinderella’s ball gown and glass slippers, which was actually made of Swarovski crystals. It’s not like that in the animated film, which made me so happy. I love the changes they did to Cinderella’s look for the ball. I can only imagine the layers of fabric they needed for that thick, flowing, shimmering skirt.  Also, that cute butterfly on the front of her shoe was just cute. It was so lovely to see the pair of slippers sparkling like that.

The costumes were really a thrill to watch in this movie. Prince, Grand Duke, King, and Captain in their tight suits and pants. YES!

When the trailer came out, people were commenting on how it didn’t really resemble a real pair of slippers, but I guess back then, shoes were referred to as slippers. It is, after all, something we slip our feet into. (I’ll leave it to the linguists to explain.)

One thing I missed though is when the carriage returned to being a pumpkin. I was expecting Cinderella to be out, or separated, of the pumpkin before it shrunk to its normal size, but instead, she stayed inside and burst out of it and kind of grew back to her size. I still can’t wrap my head around that scene. This part reminded me of Alice in Wonderland movie adaptation.

*     *     *

I’ve been a fan of Downton Abbey ever since it came out, so it was really exciting to see Lily James and Sophie McShera play a different role in yet another period film. I think they were both really awesome. Sophie McShera portrayed her character’s ridiculous and silly personality well with just a few lines and short time frames. It wasn’t boring nor annoying to watch Anastasia and Drizella. The dynamics between the two actresses as loud and superficial sisters was very amusing.

I also think Lily James did a great job as Cinderella. There was kindness in her sweet voice and facial expression. Not to mention, her refinement and elegance as she walked the meadows, ran the gardens and steps, and cried softly in the gazebo (somewhat). Graceful movements, strong yet sweet character, and stunning smile, that to me was Lily James’ Cinderella.

Cate Blanchett also gave a wonderfully cruel stepmother. Even though I knew it was a Disney film, I kind of expected physical cruelty from stepmother and stepsisters to Cinderella but they weren’t hurting the heroine in that way. Cruelty in their household was more on words, angry looks, condescending remarks, and prima donna attitude. Cate Blanchett gave Lady Tremaine this wicked stare that could really put anyone to a corner. She also gave the character this unique laugh, which to me left a lasting impression. She’s perfect as Lady Tremaine.

Both Cate Blanchett and Helena Bonham Carter gave depth to their characters as Lady Tremaine and Fairy Godmother, respectively. There was frustration, jealousy, anger, and sadness in her eyes. So much so that I would want to explore the life of the stepmother more. Helena Bonham Carter’s version of Fairy Godmother was also very delightful. She appeared as an old beggar first  before turning into a fairy in a humongous white costume. And her wand was equally stylish. There was finesse masked with self-doubt or forgetfulness in her version of a fairy godmother. Perhaps she was forgetful out of old age or for not using her tricks in a very long time. In any case, her character was funny.

And of course, we can all just swoon at Richard Madden (even more so, Game of Thrones!) who searched the entire kingdom for the girl who left her shoe. Yes, he joined the search instead of just sitting in the palace waiting for news or results. It was also a surprise to see Stellan Skarsgard as Grand Duke; somehow, I managed to associate him to Thor and Avengers. All the other casts for the movie were also really fun to watch. I especially liked the role of the Captain who seemed to me was also the Prince’s friend, and the messenger (I’m not sure if that’s how he’s called) who reminded me of Benedict Cumberbatch.

For anyone thinking this movie adaptation is going to be like that of the cartoon, you are completely mistaken. The director, Kenneth Branagh (yes, Gilderoy Lockhart!), producers, staff, and casts created an entertaining and  heartwarming Cinderella for all of us.

I’m happy with the twist in the plot and the fact that it didn’t include talking animals (until they turned into humans). Maybe they could have shown a bit more of the connivance between Lady Tremaine and Grand Duke although perhaps that would be dark for a Disney film. I also think the scene where Lady Tremaine breaks the glass shoe was symbolic. And I believe the movie could not have shown more how ridiculous and superficial both Anastasia and Drizella are than they already did.

Regardless of the changes, the real essence of Cinderella remains in this movie. It’s truly a must-see for kids and for anyone who grew up believing in fairy godmothers and glass slippers.

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