I have been a movie buff since I was a little girl. Having watched the animated Cinderella of 1950 with its music and magic, it was with trepidation that I approached this 2015 movie. Not knowing what to expect, I held my breath in anticipation of what was to come. In one word, well, actually a whole sentence, I needn't have. I was amazed to feel all the wonder and magic that I felt in my childhood in this lavish production. I felt my heart swell as I took in the opulence and magnificence of every scene unfolding before my eyes.
We're all familiar with the storyline, but for those who may not be familiar with this fairytale, this story is about Cinderella, a much loved child of a widowed aristocrat. Ready to move on he decides to remarry, figuring it would be good for him as well as his beloved daughter who would have 2 sisters and a mother to care for her. Unfortunately Lady Tremaine is a heartless stepmother, and her daughters just as selfish. When her father is killed unexpectedly, Cinderella is left to the mercy of her step family.
Meanwhile the King and the Grand Duke organise a ball in an effort to find the Prince a wife. Every single woman in the kingdom is invited and naturally Cinderella's step mother can't wait to get her daughters to meet the Prince in the hope that he'll pick one of them to be his wife. Cinderella is not allowed to go to the ball which breaks her heart till her fairy godmother comes to the rescue and gets her there.
She has to be home by midnight before the magic wears off and the ball gown, carriage, coachman and footmen turn back to their original form. Cinderella barely makes it out of the ball before the stroke of midnight and in her rush to get away from the Prince, drops one of her glass shoes on the steps. The Prince then searches the land for his Princess, trying the shoe on all women to see whom it'll fit.
Not knowing the cast in the movie and not having seen the trailer, to my delight I discovered movie greats like Cate Blanchett (stepmother), Derek Jacobi (the King), Stellan Skarsgard (the Grand Duke) and Helena Bonham Carter (the fairy godmother) in the film. I've never watched the TV series Downtown Abbey and therefore didn't realise that Lily James (Cinderella) played Lady Rose MacClare in the series. I did however recognise Richard Madden (The Prince) from the TV series Game of Thrones, where he plays Robb Stark.
This movie stayed true to the Disney magic of old while portraying the fairytale in a realistic manner. The stepsisters are not ugly but are quite pretty. Their ugliness rears its head because of their ugly nature, which is very believable. Cate Blanchett revels in delicious evil as the stepmother and doesn't mince about trying to be nice. She plays evil unapologetically and brilliantly.
As for the chemistry between the Prince and Cinderella, it's undeniable. From his princely handsome smile to the glint in his eye when they first meet, and Cinderella's purity and kindness awakened by attraction in his presence will capture your heart. Romance is alive and well. I can't say that I actually noticed the acting chops of the cast, except for Cate Blanchett who is outstanding as the stepmother.
I do however feel that all has to have been well as the movie completely captured me and held me in its grip without missing a beat. BAFTA winner and Academy Award nominee, actor and director Kenneth Branagh has indeed done a stellar job in delivering this tale that stays true to form and does not try to be anything else but a fairytale. I give this an 8 out of 10 and I definitely want a pumpkin that turns into the most beautiful opulent carriage I've ever seen in my life.
Due to the fascination of the glass slipper the world over I'd say, I have to add this snippet. Though the actual slipper could not be worn by Cinderella because it didn't fit her, the illusion was created through CGI. However, the glass slipper was actually created in collaboration by Academy Award winning costume designer Sandy Powell and Swarovski. Made from solid crystal with a 6 inch heel and sporting dimensions of 186 x 75 x 196mm, it features 221 facets in a light-reflecting Crystal Blue Aurora Borealis coating. It took a team of 8 and approximately 150 hours who produced 6 versions before the final model was chosen.
You can now get a Disney endorsed ornamental glass Swarovski slipper on Ebay for a cool US$800 plus value. Madness? Nine designers have made their own Cinderella-inspired footwear that's on display at Saks Fifth Avenue.
Lucky Londoners currently have the Cinderella Exhibition presented by Swarovski running till the 10th of April 2015 at Leicester Square Gardens. A celebration of the film's British roots, the exhibition is free but the event is ticketed. Makes me feel like flying over there right now to check it out.