So alas I’ve finally brought myself to write about the sleeper hit of the year for myself and also I believe the sleeper hit for many people in a general sense.
True to form, and it’s story, Cinderella didn’t come in with many high hopes. It was hidden lying in the ashes of numerous reboot attempts and several other mentionable “redos” or revisionist movies that had taken a go at the classical subject matter only to fall flat. Where Snow White and the Huntsman (who thought of that name seriously) Maleficient, and Mirror Mirror all tried to do a different take on a classic piece Cinderella(2015) didn’t do anything but tell the classical piece.
And not doctored or changed or re-imagined to suit more progressive or liberal ideals or to be made for a niche market or flip work on its head but the movie to put in its own words, “had courage” and was “kind”. Everything about this movie screams maybe of a succored taste too sweet but its delivery and unyielding belief of its ideals and its portrayals ultimately vindicate it. Combined with a near flawless execution on multiple levels the movie holds up even under heavy scrutiny from a keen eye.
Everything in this movie is based not on its concepts being new but on telling the old when no one is willing to do so. Which is why it is so effective when it uses every imaginable weapon of movie making at it’s disposal. The color grading is phenomenal and the special effects never seemed misplaced. Combined with the overall build of popping tones and beautiful blues this movie was a artistic masterpiece of coloring.
The costumes were done by a three time Academy award winner and rightly so there was not a single piece of clothing that felt misplaced. Every dress and suit accentuated the mood and the scene to perfection especially when taking into account the period being established.
The acting wasn’t over the top but good and refined never delving into too much sappiness but also being willing enough to be reserved when the rest of the movie is drawing them out to the audience in spectacle. It helps as well that Richard Madden and Lily James, had good chemistry onscreen together for brief moments were amazingly complimentary of each other by design and tactfulness.
The music … ohh the music. I could probably have my friends in the music department write a column on just the beauty of the music in the movie alone. The moment when the waltz for “La Valse De L’amour” began in the movie I almost had a heart attack from what I realized was a perfect crescendo.
And of course the directing by Kenneth Branagh. See if you have Branagh direct Thor he’s not fully unleashed and allow to do his full duty (clearly by how Marvel forces scenes and jokes into the first thor movie) then you end up with something soured. But if you put Branagh into his element and have him do what he does best (classic shakespeare and fairytales) then the man excels and leaves you with a masterpiece.
However, when combined you end up with the complete coup-de-grace of Cinderella movies that I don’t think even the original top. The way they color grade Richard Madden’s eyes to be blue like the sky or have the music and emotions pinnacle at the exact right moment in the ball all work together to make a great movie.
I still remember being apprehensive after I heard from friends that it was of a higher caliber than thought. What a Cinderella movie that was made recently that was good? Impossible after all not only had Disney been pumping out mindless Marvel movies but they’re recent slew of live action seemed not much better. So I went in with a more critical mindset and for the first many minutes I wasn’t disappointed. It seemed altogether just a little too corny. That was until the movie played it’s trump card … the waltz.
That moment in them movie when it happened was like seeing clouds break open and the sun appear for the first time in a long rainy day. I could feel the tension that was built up into that scene in a very real and cathartic sense.
In every good movie there has to be a moment that wins you over as the audience, that takes you and allows you to remove yourself from the moviemaking and enjoy the story. Some do it at the beginning, others do it differently, many decent movies are forgotten because they never do it at all. But once a movie wins me over (which can be very difficult) it breaks down my defenses I have to respect the movie out of sheer admiration after realizing how hard I’ve been in judging it. Cinderella did this for me.
And at the end of it all the movie simply wants you to take it for what it is and not try to add or subtract from it but to see it as it’s truly meant to be seen. For a long time I had never thought of the Christian implications of Cinderella but this movie has changed entirely my perspective on the Cinderella story and as a whole how I approach it from a thematic and philosophical standpoint.
Afterwards I couldn’t stop thinking of the music in my head and that scene over and over again. However, the moment that I was truly convinced it wasn’t just a great movie but a phenomenal movie was when I was waiting in line at Chick-Fil-A for my meal. In front of me was a man probably in his 20’s dressed as if he had just gotten off work and looking staunchly stressed and ready to go home. As per usual among people waiting for food … nothing happened. Pure silence for a good 30 seconds. And then the incredible happened, the man in front of me started to whistle “Lavender’s Blue” which is the main theme from the recent Cinderella. I didn’t say a word in that moment and just sat back and smiled snickering to myself knowing secretly what that man hummed.
So there you go … Cinderella isn’t good, or somewhat better than good, or even really great. No, it’s a masterpiece so go see it but above all “have courage and be kind”.