AMPTHILL, United Kingdom – I’m a fan of all things Disney, so imagine my glee to discover that there would be a live action version of a film that I have loved since childhood. Cinderella is a world-renowned rags to riches story that is adored by millions.
Kenneth Branagh directed the remake with Downtown Abbey’s Lily James playing the lead. I had high expectations for Branagh’s directing, he’s one of the few people who has managed to impress me in everything he has made. He did not let me down.
I don’t know many films that could simply be described as beautiful – it’s a hard criteria to meet – but with stunning costume design and breathtaking scenery, it became something special.
James was absolutely striking in her both her ball gown and her peasant dress. An important part of being a princess is looking the part, and she certainly did. I’m a fan of costume design, so I was practically weak with pleasure every time a new outfit was displayed. The colors were extremely rich and vibrant, creating an exceptionally magical atmosphere.
Richard Madden, of Game of Thrones fame, played the handsome Kit, later revealed to be the Prince. His onscreen chemistry with James was spectacular and had me rooting for their romance to succeed from the moment they met.
I was pleased to discover that Branagh had decided to forgo the talking animals that appeared in the original Disney movie; it would have dragged down the professionalism of the filmmaking. Instead, Ella’s adorable animal friends lent a slightly comic relief to the otherwise serious storyline.
However, there are some fundamental problems with the Cinderella story. It’s essentially a tale about abuse.
Telling children, who will be making up a large portion of the audience, that the only way to get away from the mistreatment that they endure is to marry a complete stranger is not a positive message. We should be teaching children that they have the ability to get themselves out of the situation, that they are powerful and have the strength to do anything they want to. Husbands and princes don’t have to factor into this equation.
Another point is the fact that the main cast members are all white. Representation is important in media and an actress of African or Asian decent would have made the same impact, if not more, in the lead role.
Visualize the delight of a child who can never picture herself as a princess – because she’s never seen one who looks like her – finally finding a role model. This is more important than sticking to the actors whose race matches the original animation.
Overall, Branagh’s Cinderella is a fun and enjoyable piece of cinema. There are entertaining parts for all types of people and nobody will be left disappointed. Plus, the added bonus of the Frozen short beforehand makes it a must-see.
Erin Ashby is a Junior Reporter for Youth Journalism International.