Have Courage and Be Kind - Living and Loving Like Cinderella
There are a few tiny spoilers within this article. If you must leave, make sure to bookmark this page so you can come back and read my thoughts, then feel free to share yours in the comments! :)
You know, you can tell a lot about things when shoes are involved. Am I right?! As a fashion lover, watching films with historic references or time period specific costume make me really happy. While Cinderella is a fairytale, I knew that Disney would have an amazing set of costumes to fall in love with.
Growing up, I always felt like Cinderella was the ultimate dreamer. I was often likened to her as I daydreamed my life away. Fast forward a couple of decades and I'm still dreaming! When Disney announced that they had a live action version of this 1950 classic, I knew the moment that I saw the beautiful Swarovski crystal glass slipper in the teaser trailer, that it would be amazing and a "must-see" film.
While the classic film doesn't ever show Ella's mother, or even go too deep into the relationship that she had with her parents, this new version with Lily James playing Ella definitely does; it's beautiful and sweet. We see the love and care of Ella's upbringing and that has made her a beautiful young woman, inside and out. While Ella's father is heartbroken after the loss of his wife, over time he feels the need for a companion and chooses Lady Tremaine as his new wife. Ella is supportive and welcomes the her new stepmother and step-sisters into her home.
The film is pure innocence and magic, and we understand more about each character's background. The film brought a beloved fairytale to life, and my kids felt it was SO real. I have to agree with them! This version gave Ella a great head on her shoulders, and while she is affected by the harsh realities of her life situation, she still chooses to see the good or potential good in everyone.
In terms of story line, we all know that there is a happily ever after; good triumphs over evil once again. But how did that evil come about? What is it that drove Lady Tremaine to be so cruel? What was Ella's mother like? If you're like me, you always want to know more. This is probably why I always welcome sequels to movies, because I don't want the story to end. It is through the storytelling that we gain perspective on characters, similar to Disney's other live-action film Maleficent, we find out that Lady Tremaine had a broken heart and gave into feelings of jealousy.
I must say that as usual, Ms. Blanchett does a phenomenal job in her role as the wicked stepmother. Her elegance, poise, and oh-so-cold-hearted personality shines. And it's amazing to see that on screen. To be honest, I was very excited to see her be so good at being bad.
What I found to be my favorite aspect of this version is the honesty and realness of the characters. Even as Ella, later nicknamed Cinderella by her step-sisters, was treated as a servant in her own home, she continued to love and forgive. Before she died, Ella's mother wanted her to remember to "have courage and be kind." Throughout the film, we see Ella hold onto those words and live them daily.
So you're probably wondering, well if we've already seen the animated film, what is the point of seeing the new film? Well, you get to the heart of a lot. Like my kids said, the film is so real, mainly due to the live actors, but it is more relatable. The tears, the joy, the heartbreak and excitement. It is genuine and it's inspiring.
Unlike the animated version, the Prince and Cinderella actually meet prior to the ball. Neither of them reveal who they really are, but she knows that he lives and works at the castle, and he knows that she is a country girl. Naturally, when the royal invitation is extended to all maidens of the land, Ella hopes to see her friend, Kit.
If you recall, Ella's dress was shredded and ripped by her step-family so that she couldn't attend the ball. With the help of her Fairy Godmother (Helena Bonham Carter), who was first disguised as a helpless old woman, Ella is transformed into nothing short of a beautiful and mysterious royal. She was already gorgeous to begin with, but she cleaned up extra well! While the Fairy Godmother did not sing "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo (The Magic Song)," she did state those words and was quite hilarious as she attempted to transform various items to aid Ella's magical night. Did you know that she was going to turn a watermelon into a carriage? Unfortunately, the family only grew pumpkins! At the pleading of Cinderella, the Fairy Godmother didn't change the entire dress, but just updated it and made her mother's dress blue.
Each time that Ella and Prince Kit (Richard Madden) share the screen, you can sense the intrigue and love that grows between them. She captured his heart like so many that will see the film. One of my favorite scenes is in the Prince's secret garden when she loses her slipper for the first time.
Like Ella, Prince Kit has a loving relationship with his father, the King (Derek Jacobi). While the King wants Kit to remain true to the royal decree of marrying only noble blood, what would eventually change his heart is the exchange of words that he has with Ella as she is trying to escape the palace at midnight's last echo. The King wants Prince Kit to be happy and in love, and he eventually gives him the blessing of marrying for love before he dies.
While in the animated film, the Grand Duke ( Stellan Skarsgård) thinks that the Prince's heart is leading him and potentially the country astray, this time we learn the reasoning is because he has already promised the Prince's hand in marriage to another Princess. As Lady Tremaine realizes that Ella was the mystery woman at the Royal Ball, she locks Ella in the attic and makes a deal with the Grand Duke to become a Dutchess and marry off her daughters to men with noble statuses, in exchange for Ella's secret to never be revealed.
After many numerous scenes of the Prince searching for the right girl who fits the glass slipper, they finally end up at Ella's home as she's locked up in the attic. Thankfully, Lady Tremaine didn't chop off her daughters' feet to fit the slippers, Into the Woods-style. As the royal fleet begins to leave, after Lady Tremaine and Grand Duke exchange sinister glares, Ella begins to sing and her voice carries enough for the Prince's Captain (Nonso Anozie) to hear. While Cate Blanchett did amazing, I seriously saw Lady Tremaine's reaction from the animated film in that scene. Her face is priceless and lives in my memory forever.
I find it interesting that finally Ella reveals her name to "Mr. Kit" and states that it is Cinderella. I would have liked for her to keep the name her parents gave her, oh well. We know that Cinderella fits the glass slipper. We know that they live happily ever after. Not to mention the GORGEOUS wedding dress... but you'll need to watch the movie in order to see. :)
Everything is revealed and all is well.
So what exactly did we learn? And how do we apply any of this, if at all, to our lives? We go to movies to be entertained, but we also make it a point to talk about the film with our kids. What we hear Cinderella tell her stepmother is paramount and was not heard in the animated film.
I forgive you. Staying true to her heart and her parents' wishes, Ella chose the high road and forgave. No, she didn't forget, how could you ever forget years of mistreatment? But she got her happy ending, and instead of living with a heart of revenge or hate, she chose to forgive. Serves Lady Tremaine and the Grand Duke right, they even fled the kingdom together, never to be seen again.
Have courage. How often do we fall into life situations that just simply seem unbearable? For some of us it is often, but I can guarantee that we have all experienced one thing or another that made us want to lose hope and give in. The fact that Ella continuously put up with her Step-family's mistreatment was her way of having courage. For whatever reason, even if it was just to uphold her parent's wishes, she attempted to see the good in the bad.
Be kind. Her genuinely sweet and kind heart guide her to happiness. If she wasn't kind to the old woman in her garden would she still have lived her dream that night? Just as her mother told her, where there is kindness there is ultimately magic. We love magic around here and it has somewhat become a mantra for our kids after watching the film last week.
Find out more about Cinderella and make sure to see the film! You won't be disappointed!
Disclaimer: I was given complimentary passes to see Cinderella in order to review the film. All opinions are 100% my own and always magical.