Why are you borrowing thousands of pesos just to put together your dream wedding? Why do you think it is acceptable to converse with your household vermin? Is your dream car 100% environmentally efficient because it is made of vegetables? If so, then we can safely say you are overly influenced by the fairy tales of your childhood. And Disney’s new live action Cinderella, directed by Kenneth Branagh, takes us back to the cozy world of family-friendly fare where everyone gets their come-uppance and the girl always gets her prince.

It’s Cinderella, ‘Nuff Said

So if I attempt to summarize a thorough synopsis of this story, I end up assuming the readers of this article are either very ignorant or they suffer from some kind of brain damage that would account for amnesia regarding childhood memories. Perhaps the most popular of fairy tales, Cinderella has inspired a whole genre of film making, the romcom. This is a straightforwardly classical telling; a beautiful young working woman (Lily James) is harassed by unfair labour practices and a total lack of awareness of child rights on the part of her boss/stepmother (Cate Blanchett). However, because we all know that wishing really hard and whining to mice makes us feel much, much better, fate conspires through a meddling fairy godmother (Helena Bonham Carter) to give Cinderella a night off, and this one is going to be a super fun night because she picks up a shoe-fetishizing royal (Richard Madden) on the dance floor. Of course, she runs away, and he runs after her, and the rest is well… you know what the rest is. Happiness being after everything, or something like that.

cinderella posterTraditional Sap Story

This is a traditional take of Cinderella, and Branagh brings to life the original Disney cartoon painstakingly faithfully. No modern twists here: Cinderella is not going to start taking her life into her own hands or anything like that. Well,  the “evil” characters are quite a bit more sympathetic: the ugly stepsister are not as “ugly” as they are cutesy-silly, and Cate Blanchett’s stepmother is almost understandable in her neglectfulness as they fill out her backstory a bit with a bit of boohoo. Still, all the girlish joys and feminist problems of the original are present and accounted for.

Totes Gorge

Actually, they are more than just accounted for. All boxes have been ticked and perhaps the most impressively accomplished feat is the film’s aesthetics. “Visually ravishing” does not begin to even cover it. Much of the imagery looks like works of art, dreamy pre-Raphaelite compositions or French Rococo idylls as if Fragonard stepped out from behind the canvas and picked up a movie camera. Throw in a touch of Hollywood glamour (Cate Blanchett in particular giving good face) and the remake of the cartoon becomes justified as a stunning gem of a kid’s film. And yes, the dresses are to die for! Probably the hardest thing to pull off I would say, as what other story places couture so centrally in its plot structure? A standing ovation then for costume designer Sandy Powell!

Prepare for Audience Participation

Since coming home to Cebu, I found that Filipino audiences have become a lot more sophisticated. I believed gone were the days when Tom Cruise showing up on the scene would incite shrieks of crushing hysteria and Frodo and Samwise helping each other would elicit shouts of “Kiss! Kiss! Kiss!” However, in our showing, the audience was reverted to old form, probably due to the old-fashioned material. People were genuinely touched. Squeals of excitement oscillated through the audience, brought about by that joyous feeling of kilig (giddiness) that true romance can inspire. I can’t think of a better feeling with which to leave a cinema. Go and enjoy, families!


Stefan Garcia

Almost every Friday for the past few months, Stefan has been helping us make informed decisions on our movie habits. In the near future, check out his pieces on Yoga and climbing Osmena Peak. Read his previous pieces here.

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