No animation, no singing bluebirds or mice. However, the new live action Disney Cinderella is truly a magical feast for the eyes. I shall mention Dante Ferretti, the production designer because he deserves high praise for the richness of the castle, ballroom, and the lushness we see on screen. Lily James is a gorgeous Ella – beautiful within and out. Richard Madden is a handsome Prince Charming. Helena Bonham Carter is a wifty fairy godmother. But it is Cate Blanchett as the Evil Stepmother who amps this movie. She just oozes selfishness and nastiness abounds as she turns poor Ella into the house servant when Ella’s father dies.
They stick with the familiar Cinderella story. Raised by two loving parents, Ella wants for nothing. Sadly her mother dies but not without the words, “Have courage and be kind.” That motto shall sustain Ella. The father remarries thinking this will be good, bringing the Lady and her two horrific daughters into the home. But he dies, and Ella becomes Cinderella, sleeping at the hearth for warmth and cooking and cleaning. A chance meeting in the woods, and the Prince now seeks the commoner for marriage. But his father has other ideas. So a huge ball brings in royalty and the public. The Evil Stepmother schemes to have her daughters marry the prince. But Cinderella, thanks to the magic of the fairy godmother, appears at the ball and wins the Prince’s heart once again. The transformation scene is splendid – pumpkin to carriage, mice to horses, lizards to footmen, etc.
At the stroke of midnight, Cinderella must flee the ball, leaving a glass slipper behind. The search is on for the girl’s foot to fit the slipper and become the Queen. Who shall it be? Will the ending be happily ever after? This is an excellent popcorn movie for the family. There were plenty of little girls in the audience wearing their princess outfits. And frankly, the motto “Have courage and be kind” is a good lesson for young and old. Cinderella is a classic and this movie upholds the tradition and more.