The 2015 live-action edition of this Disney classic brings more backstory and also a bit of corset controversy, but in the end it delivers a message more powerful than any charming prince.
If you are anything like me, you probably did not have super high expectations for the new installment of “Cinderella,” which is still in theaters and expected to be out on Blue-Ray and DVD in July.
After suffering through what I can only describe as a huge disappointment in “Into The Woods,” my faith in the new adaptation of a childhood fairytale favorite was faltering.
When I arrived at the theater I tried to keep my mind open.
From the first scene, I was enchanted. The set and costume design are enough to make any girl weak in the knees, and sweet Ella’s (played by Lily James) loving family provides exactly the backstory you expect in the tale.
The best part about the film is it sticks with the original screenplay, down to the dramatic body fling Ella makes onto the well after being left behind for the ball.
Going beyond the vague story you got as a child, Cinderella 2015 provides the full story on Ella and her parents, as well as crafting a terribly sad backstory for the wicked stepmother, whom you may love to hate and hate to love by the end.
The film is exactly what you would expect from a live-action fairytale: a lot of CGI effects, magical and unique costuming, a few cheesy lines.
But altogether, this version did not disappoint.
But of course, not even a princess can please everyone.
Since its release, critics of the film have come forward to bash the dreamy remake for many different reasons.
As we address the main criticisms, remember I am approaching this as a historian above all else so it will take a pretty credible complaint to convince me that this was anything other than well-done.
Criticism 1: The “Altered Waist”
A week before the film’s release, James went under fire along with the studio over allegations that her waist had been digitally altered to appear more slim.
James angrily spoke out against this claim, as did director Kenneth Branagh.
“It’s not a mystery — if you put someone in a corset, you’ll see also that there’s a wide [part],” Branagh said in an interview with Business Insider. “Not that Lily James isn’t slim. But, in that wide bow of a dress underneath, basically you squeeze things in, things come out the bottom.”
What Branagh is referring to was the obvious hourglass shape of James’ waist in her signature blue ballgown.
However, when you consider the other fashions featured in the film from clothing to home decor, it is plain to see that they are living somewhere after the 1600s in an area heavily influenced by French culture.
Corsets were incorporated in that time and they were tied so tautly around a woman’s waist that anything around the edges would have pushed out in one direction or the other.
While James’ waistline may not be that naturally slim, it is certainly possible that with the assistance of the fitted bodice there was no alteration of the images.
Criticism 2: “Have Courage & Be Kind”: Teaching Girls to Submit to Abuse
Featured on the blog “BlogHer,” a self-proclaimed “platform for sharing great voices,” one mother wrote of her horror at the storyline that unfolded during “Cinderella.”
She goes on and on about how terrible of an example Ella sends to girls by accepting the torture of her mother and stepsisters, about how she never stands up for herself and about how she triumphantly introduces herself as “Cinderella” at the end, comparing her behavior to that of a captive suffering from Stockholm Syndrome.
Man, was I hot after reading this.
If Cinderella was set in modern times, I would certainly have to agree with this mother about “just leaving.”
But this story is set in a time period where women did not simply leave when the going got tough.
They had to buck up because they were not allowed in most areas to own property or hold financial accounts. Where exactly should she have gone?
What I found particularly interesting here is that mom managed to complain about Cinderella’s actions (or rather Cinderella’s inactions, according to her) yet she failed to rant about the stepmother’s attempt to marry her daughters off to lift their family’s social standing, also a common practice of the time.
Could Ella have simply left her childhood home in a real world situation? Perhaps, if only to live in the most derelict of environments and experiencing far worse than what she was already facing.
Would I have liked to see her stand up for herself a little more when being blatantly emotionally tortured? Sure, but that wasn’t realistic. Not to say that a pumpkin turning into a carriage is either, but really folks …
If anything, this film opens up a conversation with young girls about how women’s rights have changed over the years, and how throughout those years the best way to forge ahead is with a moral foundation.
And personally, I am all for that foundation being, “Have Courage & Be Kind.”
To wrap this up, I for one loved “Cinderella,” and I absolutely cannot wait for the next Disney live-action remake to come out.