I’m not one to post movie reviews on this blog but I was lucky enough last night to be able to watch a screening of the live action Disney Cinderella movie coming out in March of 2015. I was excited to see if it was as inspirational to young girls to be a strong independent female as with previous Disney movies (Brave, Frozen). Although I didn’t hold out hope for an engineering role model like I found Tinker Bell. (wishful thinking of a engineering mom) I took Rose (and her Aunt) and am very happy to say that unlike Maleficent it was very age appropriate for even little girls. I came out of the movie with that nice warm fuzzy feeling that good romantic comedies give. The guy gets the girl, the bad people are punished, and everyone lives happily ever after, all interspersed with some comedy and light drama. Rose’s aunt was almost giddy because it paired an actress from Downton Abby (Lily James) and an actor from Game of Thrones (Richard Madden) together as the romantic leads. 😉
The story line follows the cartoon movie almost verbatim but with a nice addition of expanded back story and heartfelt drama. The acting was great (how could it not be with Cate Blanchett as the Evil Stepmother) and the scenery beautiful. (Rose wanted to take home the gorgeous grey horse she rides around on) If the costumes don’t win an Oscar, I don’t know what’s wrong since they were absolutely stunning. I think her wedding dress alone is going to inspire a whole new wedding dress line. And of course, the shoes*….
Here’s the thing. Once I got home and started to move beyond my initial “awwww” reaction, I realized that Cinderella is still a bit of a subservient character. I get the whole “wait for your prince to come” theme from in the 50’s when the cartoon was made but this is 2014 (or 2015 when it comes out). Cinderella’s mom’s dying quote is “have courage and be kind”. So I guess the whole “have courage” thing is have to courage to wait around for rescue? Or maybe it was to have courage to be kind in the face of adversity? But does being courageous and kind mean you should stay quiet and kind in a bad relationship/home life because something good might happen if you do? (50 Shades of Grey anyone?) I think they were trying to make Cinderella be “self assured” and “finding joy in the life you live no matter what” but it seemed like she was a bit of a door mat. I know, I know, it’s just a Disney movie and a remake of an existing one at that. I shouldn’t expect huge life affirming, girl empowering stuff every time. Sigh… (Of course they remade Sleeping Beauty and Maleficent and Aurora turned out pretty bad ass)
It isn’t all bad of course. For the most part, she doesn’t let herself get depressed over her situation and she did have a stand up for yourself moment at the end but then apparently gave up and sat around moping after that. As of the editing on the screening, she didn’t even free herself with the help of the mice like she did in the cartoon. Humph. I think I am just spoiled by the Ever After story line with the female lead that saves herself in the end but still gets the prince. I know this was the “olden times” where it would be very difficult to be a woman out on her own but as a mom who is taking her young daughter to this, I know she will not be analyzing the social economical trials of the time period. She will be looking at Cinderella as someone to look up too.
The Step Mother is actually the strongest female character but of course, she is evil. It almost gives the message that being strong and opinionated is “evil” and being quite and subservient is “good”. Deep thoughts there! There is a whole nuther blog post that can be written about her but I’ll wait until the movie is out since it would contain a bunch of spoilers.
Oh, and don’t get me started on how skinny they made Cinderella’s waist. Like “did they computer generate her waist that skinny?” skinny. Not a good message to our girls.
Disney really did a step back for our impressionable girls with this movie. After wonderful strong female character movies like Brave and Frozen (sister power!), it was disappointing to see them go back to the old standard. Maybe because it was directed by Kenneth Branagh who isn’t exactly known for his movies with strong female leads? There was a woman writer (along with a man) but….
So long winded rambling aside, the latest Cinderella is a beautifully filmed movie with a nice romantic story line. Your little girls will love it. Just don’t expect it to inspire them much beyond playing dress up. Or dream of galloping a beautiful horse across flower strewn fields until a prince comes along to save you from your run-away horse…. wait. Damn it!
*On an engineering side note, I have to give props to the prop department (see the pun I made there?) for designing a glass slipper that might just hold up under the force of Cinderella running around. The thickness of the heel and area under the ball of the foot are surprisingly thick. The heel is even thicker then in the poster and not as high. Hopefully the fairy godmother put some Dr. Scholl’s in there for shock absorption but otherwise I bet a stress analysis would show the shoe would withstand basic use.
Update 5/23/2016: I just saw the teaser trailer for the live action Beauty and the Beast. Please let it be a better influence for our girls!