Friday, January 8, 2016

Movie Review: Cinderella (2015)

(Warning: This is going to be a very long and detailed review.  I have a lot to say.  But I have tried to write it so you can skim and read what you're interested in. :) )

When I saw this movie in the theatre with my Amy, I hardly knew what to expect.  I had only watched perhaps one of the trailers, and other than that searched for no information beforehand.  I thought it would be okay, or good.  I’ve always liked Cinderella, despite all the clichés it seems to have picked up. 

To be honest, I don’t have the highest opinion of modern Disney movies that come out.  I find most of them stuffed with nonsense, and I was a little afraid they would overdo the whole fairytale thing, so that it pushes into fantasy which is not a genre I’m into.  However, I held out hope since I know that Cinderella, as far as fairytales go, is a pretty mild one when it comes to magic and all that.

I do not hesitate to say that what I was met with in that discount theatre was more much more than I had bargained for.  It was enchanting.  I got completely swept up in the beauty and heart of it. 

Moving forward.  Everybody here knows the basic story of Cinderella, I think; and if you have seen the original but not this one, you may be curious about how it compares, so I’ll cover some of that. 

The movie begins with Ella as a baby, which I absolutely love.  It shows her loving parents bringing her up.  It shows snatches of her childhood so that you can understand how close a relationship she had with them.  It seizes you right in the heart when her mother dies, and at that point I knew that this movie was going to be far beyond my expectations.  I have seen many adaptations of this story.  This, my friends, is my idea of the correct way to go about it. 

“Ella, my darling. I want to tell you a secret. A great secret, that will see you through all the trials that life can offer. You must always remember this: have courage and be kind.  You have more kindness in your little finger than most people possess in their whole body, and it has power. More than you know.” 

Have courage and be kind. 

This was to be the theme of the movie?  Courage and kindness?  Kindness?  In this self-serving world, I have not seen a movie of this type targeted for children that teaches kindness in… well, a very long time.  I was rather impressed.

Some people complain about Cinderella being a mamby-pamby heroine with no backbone, who didn't know what to do other than do whatever people told her to.  This is REALLY where the movie surprised me.  Did they turn her into a sassy heroine like people are wont to do with characters who are “too nice”?


She showed a remarkably strong character throughout the movie.  You could tell she felt keenly about everything that was going on, and yet through it all she retained all the sweetness that Cinderella should have.  That doesn’t mean she was personality-less or without a sense of humor.  She was… well, balanced. 

The scene where Ella’s father tells her he’s going to marry again—while I’m all NO DON’T DO IT, I am impressed by how it was done.  He starts breaking it to her gently, starting out with saying he thinks it is time for a new chapter in their lives.  Ella figures out what he's getting out almost immediately (she’s no dummy!), and although she doesn’t much like the idea, she trusts in his belief that it will make him happy and tries to make the best of it for his sake.

So then of course, they arrive.  All three—the stepmother and the two sisters—are very distinguished-looking and definitely not ugly.  The girls, in fact, are reckoned to be quite fair.  As Amy pointed out, it was nice for them to move away from a stereotype where the pretty girls are nice and the ugly girls are mean. It was more realistic this way, and although Cinderella was still pretty, we don’t need the stepsisters to be ugly in order to see the contrast.

Lucifer, the cat, is a gray Persian, in appearance extremely similar to the cat of one of my sisters.  While I hated Lucifer in the original, I found it hard to hate this one.  It’s just a cat, and cats chase mice because it’s the instinct they were born with.  He did not seem a particularly agreeable cat, but he wasn’t nasty either.

“What do you think you’re up to, Lucifer? Jacqueline is my guest, and the eating of guests is not allowed.”

While I’m on that subject, let’s talk about the animal content in the movie.  I am happy to report that there was MUCH less of it than in the original.  Singing mice is all very well for young children being entertained, but this was more of a real adaptation.  Ella still was very fond of animals, and they of her.   She named the mice and they lived with her in the attic.  We don’t hear them speak, they mainly just squeak; and although they definitely were unrealistically clever in some cases, this is a fairytale so it didn’t feel terribly far-fetched. 

Her father has to go away on a business trip once again and Ella is not too happy about being left alone with her Steps again.  He asks her what she would like him to bring home for her, and she says she wants the first branch his shoulder brushes on his journey, because he will have to thinking of her, and when she gets it he'll be coming home with it-- "And that’s what I really want. For you to come back… no matter what." 

Of course we all know what THAT means and my heart was just about breaking already. 

Meanwhile, stepmother (although we needn't call her that-- "madam" will do) gets Ella to offer her room to the sisters because it's bigger, and then decides Ella will be much more comfortable in the attic, out of the way. Oh, just while the other rooms are being redecorated. (Yeah, sure. Although if her father had come home, certainly this would have changed at that point.) 

I love attics.  Attics have always been fascinating to me, so when she goes and makes a room up there, I'm just like, ehehehehehe.  

Madam does not, in this one, actually think that her daughters or clever or talented.  In fact, she really doesn't act like it.  When Drizella sings at the piano, finally she just says "do shut up."  Which made me howl in the theater. :P 

So yes, as I said, we all know what's going to happen next.  Ella's father dies.  And the scene basically rips my heart out.  One of their servants who works outside brought Ella the news, which she silently accepted (this acting was GREAT) and then said "Thank you. That must have been very difficult for you."  Although I didn't realize it the first time, that's also what Ella's father had said to the doctor when he had said she would be dying.  She remembered that and emulated him.  It was so sweet and tragic. 

And then she cries, and the MUSIC is DRAMATIC, and... anyways.

The servants are all dismissed for lack of income, and then Ella ends up basically doing all the work. You know the story.  One night, Ella knows the attic will be too cold to sleep in, so she stays by the fireplace in the kitchen to keep warm.  In the morning she has no chance to look in the mirror-- and that is when the scene that explains the name happens.  (Which the original is entirely without.)

“Ella, what’s that on your face?”
“It’s ash from the fireplace!”
“Do clean yourself up!”
“You’ll get cinders in our tea!”
"I’ve got a new NAME for her!  Cinder-wench!” 
“I couldn’t bear to look so dirty. Ohh! Dirty Ella!” 
“Cinder-Ella! That’s what we’ll call you!!” 
“Oh, girls, you’re too clever!”

Cinderella. Names have power, like magic spells. And of a sudden, it seemed to her that her stepmother and stepsisters had transformed her into merely a creature of ash and toil.”

After the scene in the kitchen (and it only got worse from where I left off,) Ella was feeling in emotional turmoil, Cinderella leaps on a horse and goes riding into the woods.(:P)And there, looking the most bedraggled she ever will in the whole movie, she meets The Prince.

The first thing I thought was, oooh, they stole this from the MUSICAL.  That is, having Ella meet the prince before the ball.  But really, I do not care if they did or if it was just a coincidence. I think it was an excellent thing to do.  If you haven't seen this movie, I want to leave you with SOME surprises, so I won't tell you everything that transpires; but in short, they have a conversation (an actual conversation, which becomes the foundation of their relationship, NOT a random look across the room...huzzah!) and Ella doesn't end up knowing that he's the prince, and they both hope to see each other again sometime.

At this point in the movie, having been introduced to the prince, we get some of his perspective.  He basically gushes to his father (the king, yes thank you Mary), who is like, good grief, all this fuss over a pretty girl.

 “She wasn’t a ‘pretty girl’! Well, she WAS a pretty girl, but there was so much more to her!”

Go PRINCE! So he actually has some depth to him, eh?

His father, though, was very disapproving of him being interested in a commoner.  He believes Kit (which is what he calls him) should choose a bride, but only among royalty.  It was very unlike the original, where the king is basically "oh, pick whoever you want to, I don't care, just GET MARRIED AND GIVE ME GRANDKIDS."  (He was... weird. I like this one much better. :P)

Anyhow. If I continue on so detailed-like, we're never going to get done with this. 

The prince arranges it so that everyone, even commoners, will be invited to the ball.  We all know he is really doing this for a chance to see Ella again. ;)

Madam has three new dresses made, and since Ella was not included in this, she decided to take up a dress of her mother's and wear it to the ball.  (With very little help from the mice, haha.)  And then we have the classic scene with the dress-tearing. 

Which made me sadder than usual, because it really is a gorgeous dress.

Unlike theirs.

Madam would not have Ella ride in their carriage, forbade her to go to the ball, and of course they sealed the deal by ruining her dress.

They leave for the ball and Ella runs out into the garden, weeping.  In the original movie, this part felt more shallow.  Although there was no evidence to support it, it seemed like she was crying just because they'd torn her dress and she wouldn't get to go to the ball.  (Which IS enough to cry over.)  But here... it was like a culmination.  Her father dying, them all being so cruel to her, having all the joy in her life taken away, when all she'd ever tried to do was have courage and be kind.

The fairy godmother is at first disguised as an old beggar woman-- another thing they could have stolen from the musical.  

So yeah. Pumpkin turns into carriage, mice turn into horses, lizards turn into footmen, and a goose turns into a coachman. 

(I just... I just felt that was necessary.)

And of course, Ella's dress is turned from her torn pink one into a magnificently skirted (if rather more immodest) blue one.  

(The SKIRT, peoples.  What I wouldn't give to wear a dress with that skirt. It was perfection and all that is wonderful.)

And right before she is about to leave...

“Just a moment! Are these the best you have?"
"Oh... it's all right, no one will see them!"
"No, no, it’ll ruin the whole look. Take them off! Yes, really quite hideous. Let’s have something new for a change… I’m rather good at shoes.”
“But… they’re made of glass?”
“Yes. And you’ll find they’re really comfortable.”

COMFORTABLE? Yeah, those would definitely be magical shoes.  Anyway, then the fairy godmother sprinkles a bit of fairy dust on Ella to ensure that her stepmother and sisters won't recognize her.  I almost leapt out of my seat and screamed THANK YOU THAT MAKES SO MUCH MORE SENSE.  (Well... in reality I just whispered something to Amy, who probably didn't hear me anyways.)

Words are insufficient to describe how I felt about the ball. Basically, it was perfection

“I’m frightened, Mr. Lizard.  I’m only a girl, not a princess.”
“And I’m only a lizard… not a footman. Enjoy it while it lasts!”

Cinderella's pleasure upon entering the ballroom and beholding the grandeur is adorable.  Also, it's basically the best Grand Entrance I've ever had the pleasure of seeing.  

The prince sees Ella, Ella sees him, they walk toward each other.  I'm not sure at which point, exactly, she figures out that he's the prince, but it's by the end of their dance. For which Kit (the name he gave her) stumbles through an adorable but awkward request, and calls Ella "your highness" which I also thought was adorable.  I know I keep using that word.  BUT I ADORED IT.

And the DANCE.... !!!!!!!!

I practically melted. It was GORGEOUS. 

The music for it is perfection and I am still reveling in that song's delights.  Then the swishing of her dress, the applause during the lifts... the swirly camera angle was ALMOST too much but not quite.  Rather than making me feel dizzy, I was just swept up in the moment.  The happiness of both of them, such sweet romantic tension.  

There were some really gorgeous moments where Kit and Ella talk, after the dance, but... well, I think I'll keep mum about the rest of the ball.  If you've seen it, you can squee in delight with me.  If you haven't... go watch it and prepare to be swept of your feet. :) 

"I've never shown this place to anyone."

She leaves the palace right and midnight and all that... I like that she took off her other shoe to run down the steps the rest of the way.  I love that they have details like that for those of us whose minds are going "but you can't flee with one high-heeled shoe on and the other off!"

For all the bits after this up until the end, really, I want to leave to the movie to show you.  But let me just say that it presents a lot of unexpected depth, sadness, mystery, and shows you that Ella does indeed have a backbone and knows how to stand up for herself and others. 

I said that I wouldn't tell you much more, and I won't... but I didn't say I wouldn't show you pictures. 

Another VERY well-done scene... and I like that the prince was actually the one to put the shoe on her.  (Even though he already knew it was her, of course. ;))  I just like the slipper scene way more here than in the original.  But what else is new... 

Of course, you may assume that the disagreement with his father subsided and he married for love.

Portraits of Ella's parents are added to the gallery :)

 "Are you ready?" 

"For anything... so long as it's with you."

I do have other thoughts on the movie to share, details about the characters and actors, locations and music, costumes and scenery, but this is already QUITE long enough so I think I'll stop.  (But the music is GORGEOUS, and it's written by Patrick Doyle, who did S&S 1995-- totally explains it!-- and you should get the soundtrack.) 
If you DO want to hear me prattle on more about the abovementioned subjects, please say so in a comment and I may just comply.

And, if you are interested, here are some videos you may enjoy.  For as long as they are on YouTube and not taken down, that is.

"A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes" ~ Lily James
Actually sung by the lovely actress, although it is not in the film, and in my opinion the accompanying video works almost as well as a trailer.

Ella Meets Kit at the Ball (clip)

The Dance - soundtrack and visual only
The music is from the soundtrack file, and then there is the video, so while you can't hear what anyone's saying or any other sounds in this scene besides the music, you can watch the beauty of the dance.

The music here is not at all suited to the movie, which is very sad, but the rest of it is good.


Miss Dashwood said...


I loved all of this review SO much. It made me feel all swoony and happy again just like the movie did, which is just about the highest compliment I can pay it. This is now in my top five favorite Disney movies... :D

Naomi Bennet said...

I LOVED this review! And yes, I did read every word of it. :-)

That's so cool that you saw it on big screen - I REALLY wanted to, but didn't because the cinema close to where we live had it in French - and I wanted to see it in ENGLISH with Lily James' real voice and everything. I'm glad I waited. :-)
I LOOOVE that pink dress.
I love that you referred to the stepmother has 'Madam.' :-)
Oh, I can't remember she taking off her other shoe to run down. I must rewatch, maybe. :-)

Lastly, I love (I've said 'I love' so many times, haha) that you wrote this review in blue. :-)

~ Naomi

jessica prescott said...

I must watch this movie. I must. I MUST.

Seriously, it looks absolutely perfect!!!

I really, really want to see a real, live-action version of the story, because I do love animated movies but live-action ones just feel that much more REAL. And it looks like the casting was absolutely perfect--Cinderella, the Prince, the stepmother--OH AND HELENA BONHAM CARTER IS THE FAIRY GODMOTHER AND I CANNOT WAAAAAIIIIITTTT TO SEE THAT.

Ahem. I'm rather fond of Helena. As you can probably tell. ;-)

I love her blue dress. SO. MUCH. Blue is my favorite color, so . . . yeah.

I can't wait for "Beauty and the Beast" in May 2017--I mean, Dan Stevens as the Prince????? Um, WUT. And I have very, very high hopes for Emma Watson as Belle.

Awdur said...

This makes me want to watch the movie again!! I also like how this movie "real-life"s various things like her stepsisters not recognizing her and the question of running with one shoe, etc. And, and, and — IT'S JUST SO GORGEOUS THE WHOLE THING.
Yes, I need to watch this again. :)

P.S. I would of course be interested to hear more about actors, characters, scenery, and etc.!!!

Rosie McCann said...

I NEED TO SEE THIS MOVIE SO BADLY!!!!! I loved your review, and all the gorgeous pictures! *swoons* I am just dying to see this movie now :)

Heidi said...


Yes, funny coincidence. I hadn't really paid any attention to it beforehand either, beyond a few pictures here and there -- and we don't really go to the theater, so I never expected to see it till muuuuuuch later. . .

But then we were given free tickets.

And long story short, that was the Beginning of The End. (Hee. Or rather the beginning. ;)

So yep. I LOVE THIS MOVIE SO MUCH!!! ;) :) :)

Sara said...

This was a wonderful movie! Have courage and be kind! That's my new motto! Compared to the movies Disney puts out anymore it was fantastic! I just wish they'd kept the deleted scene of Kit and Ella in the garden...there just isn't enough of them together. (And I love their romance! It's simply beautiful!)
P.S. Anything else you have to say about this movie would be welcome in my, on my eyes that is....

Anonymous said...

Oh, this was so lovely, Melody! :) (Sorry I'm rather late - I've been busy and wanted to ENJOY reading it. Which I did. Of course.)
I love this movie SO much. <3 And I, for one, would greatly enjoy reading another post on what you thought of it. I'll read anything about this movie, haha. (As long as it has positive remarks. :P)
Ah, that video where Lily James sings "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makkes" is sooo....DREAMY! (I can't think of a better word...) It's so gorgeous.
This comment was rather pathetic and 'fluffy' but Who Cares. ;D
~Miss Meg

Natalie said...

Ohh myy. Melody, this was such a WONDERFUL review!! I agree with pretty much EVERYTHING you said. Coincidentally, I just re-watched this version of Cinderella and as much as I liked it the first time, I LOVED it this time. I do think it's my favorite version of Cinderella. Thank you for such a lovely review!! I enjoyed it a lot. :)

Rachel said...

What a lovely review! Cinderella is my favourite movie all time. :D

Miss Evie said...

LOVED IT! The review and the film! I posted a review on my Period Drama blog (click my icon) :D

Would you rather hear the story...

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