Before the feature film, we saw the entertaining seven-minute short Frozen Fever, which reunites the characters and song writers from Frozen, the highest grossing animated film in history, generating $1.3 billion since its release in November, 2013. The plot focuses on Anna’s birthday preparations that are complicated by Elsa catching a cold. Yesterday Disney officially announced the sequel to Frozen, with directors Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck once again on board for the new full-length film.
Disney’s new live action version of its 1950 animated Cinderella classic is directed by Kenneth Branagh (Thor, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit). It is a triumph, stays close to the original, is beautifully filmed and features a good cast and wonderful costumes.
Young Ella (Eloise Webb) is very happy, living with her loving parents and animal friends in a country mansion. But Ella’s mother (Hayley Atwell) suddenly gets ill and dies. After a number of years Ella’s father (Ben Chaplin) marries a widow, Lady Tremaine (Cate Blanchett) who has two daughters Ella’s age, Anastasia (Holliday Grainger) and Drisella (Sophie McShera, Daisy from Downton Abbey). The older Ella/Cinderella is well played by Lily James, who also plays Lady Rose on Downton Abbey.
When Ella’s father dies while away on a trip, Ella is no longer treated as a daughter, but instead, after all of the staff are released, Ella is treated cruelly, being forced to live in the attic and clean and cook for her stepmother and stepsisters. However, instead of turning bitter, she lives by what her dying mother told her – to have courage and be kind.
From there, you know the rest of the Cinderella story. Ella is renamed Cinderella by her stepsisters after one day she is seen covered in ashes (cinders). Helena Bonham Carter portrays Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother, the Scottish actor Richard Madden (Robb Stark on Game of Thrones), portrays the prince and British classical actor Derek Jacobi his father, the ailing king.
I very much enjoyed this film which is appropriate for all ages. This film has a wonderful message of courage, kindness and forgiveness in the face of cruelty, but also that your identity is not defined by other people. Character matters and (along with being beautiful inside and out) will help to win the heart of the prince.