Monday, March 16, 2015

"Cinderella" remake from Disney has strong social, political messages


Kenneth Branagh’s remake of “Cinderella” for Disney (with Chris Weisz adapting the screenplay) is more than a fairy tale for children (or high school English class).  This time, there is a bit of a moral bite.
  
Lily James plays the heroine, who is left to the whims of the evil stepmother (Cate Blanchette) after losing her parents, most of all her generous father (Ben Chaplin).  She’s forced into servitude and submission to the stepmother’s two daughters, and forbidden to attend the ball.  A lot is made of the fact that association with her would cause the two “real” daughters to lose their chance at marriage.
   
It’s all so circular, and so familiar. The script plays up the idea that "some people are better than other people" but only because others have predefined them that way. 
    
We know the story about the fairy godmother (Helen Bonham Carter) and the handsome prince (Richard Madden), and the glass slippers (which could have been made from diamond – but then they wouldn’t break).  And when the king dies, the prince has the same political obligation to marry well – to have good heirs and protect the kingdom.  So he finds his beloved.  The shoe has to fit. She is just who she is.
  
I wondered, it would get interesting if the heroine were made black, and even give personal “preferences” even more existential importance.
  
The kingdom has an interesting look with all the CGI, a cantankerous cat, and little gremlins that might come right out of “Imajica”.

The music by Patrick Doyle, while cheerful, was not as powerful as in some of Doyle's Shakespeare films (also with Branagh). Remember "My Thoughts Be Bloody" from "Hamlet". 
      
There is an animated short “Frozen Fever” with more music and sets and characters from the 2013 hit.
  
  
Disney’s official site is here

The animated 1950 “Cinderella” is said to have saved Disney.  But the movie I remember as a boy is “Dumbo”.
  
I saw the film at the Regal Ballston Common, unfortunately on a smaller screen, on Monday evening before a small audience. 
  
Also, note: this evening, Blogger invited me to find a domain name for the blog and connect immediately.  I didn't, but I will think about it.  I just can't make decisions like that on the fly. It needs to be tested.  

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