Now Showing: Cinderella

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Lilly Ball, Asst. A&E Editor

Straight out of my childhood dreams, Disney’s newest adaption of its beloved 1950 animated film is absolutely enchanting. Gorgeous cinematography and costumes only add to the magic of the whimsical Cinderella, played by Lily James, who embodies the beauty and kindness of the “Cinderella” we all knew as children.

Though the film makes an attempt to stay true to the original “Cinderella,” it does, at some points, stray off the path. The beginning of the film shows Ella (Cinderella’s true name) in her golden childhood with her mother (Hayley Atwell) and father (Ben Chaplin), something the original didn’t do. Ella is absolutely adored by her parents, who teach her to “have courage and be kind,” a lesson that she never forgets. After her mother becomes ill and passes on, Ella grows up with her father, who is happy but feels as if something is missing in his life. Ella’s father marries the widowed Lady Tremaine, (Cate Blanchett) in hopes of getting a second chance at love.

Soon after, Lady Tremaine and her two daughters, Anastasia and Drizella, move into Ella’s home and the father passes on. As time goes on, Lady Tremaine truly becomes Ella’s evil stepmother, treating her horribly and forcing her to work as her servant. One day while in the forest, Ella meets the Prince, played by the extremely handsome Richard Madden, who only identifies himself as “Kit,” hiding his true identity, an interesting twist to the plot which I enjoyed. After Ella and the Prince meet, the plot returns to the original’s path, but with a few surprises.

The character of Cinderella is the epitome of beauty and goodness, a high standard to meet, but Lily James is perfection. She is kind, honest, and a bit awkward, a new form of Cinderella that is more realistic. Other than James, the real star of the film is Blanchett, who is sexy and malevolent as Lady Tremaine. She struts in and out of scenes as the center of attention, and at times I really hated her. Madden also fits his role of prince charming perfectly, and his deep blue eyes made me swoon.

Along with the superb cast, the costume and cinematography department of “Cinderella” should also be praised. Sweeping shots of the English countryside and Windsor Castle give the film a more realistic quality and prove that Disney doesn’t just rely on green screens and computer magic to bring their fairy tales to life. The costumes of each character were unique and glamourous, especially Lady Tremaine’s, which were all slinky dresses of dark colors, to show her evilness. “Cinderella” would be nothing without her dress, which is redesigned beautifully by Oscar-winning costume designer Sandy Powell for the film. I had tears in my eyes as I watched Ella’s rags transform into a beautiful blue gown, which would be magical even without Lily James in it.

Though at first I was worried that Disney would ruin the story of one of my favorite princesses, the adaption is far better than the original. The extra details added to the plot made the simple story much more complex and gave more of a spotlight to certain characters that were ignored in the original. The absolute beauty of the costumes and filming locations left me in awe; director Kenneth Branagh certainly succeeded at adapting animated magic to real life magic. Little girls and adults will both be charmed under the spell of “Cinderella.”