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Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Cinderella

I really don't have much to say about the 2015 Disney version of Cinderella, directed competently but not very interestingly by Kenneth Branagh. It's just a straightforward telling of the ancient tale (it goes back to B.C. Egypt, though it was popularized by Charles Perrault in 1697 and then Walt Disney in 1950). There is no Marxist, feminist, or Freudian interpretations here, which makes for a bland film.

Disney, never one to leave a cash cow unmilked, is now remaking many of their animated films as live-action films. Coming up is The Jungle Book, Beauty and the Beast, Dumbo, The Little Mermaid, Mulan, and Winnie the Pooh (!?). Cinderella was pretty easy to do given the CGI, that has mice turn into horses and a pumpkin turn into a coach.

The basic story is here, and to pad it to 118 minutes there's a little more. We learn how Ella (Lily James) came to be under the thumb of her wicked stepmother (a very fine Cate Blanchett). Blanchett is even given some motivation for what she does, though she's still a bitch. Also, there's much given to the handsome prince, as we meet the king (Derek Jacobi), and a Grand Duke (Stellan Skarsgard). The Prince is played blandly (really, every Prince Charming is always bland, it goes with the territory) by Richard Madden. Helen Bonham Carter, as though she were still being directed by ex-husband Tim Burton, is the Fairy Godmother.

The film was a modest hit, and I suspect that is from little girls and some adults who are nostalgic for films that don't make them think too much. James is pretty without being va-va-va-voom, and the production design and costumes (by Oscar-nominate Sandy Powell) are very befitting a fairy tale.

If you do see Cinderella, don't expect much and you won't be disappointed.

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