Friday, January 8, 2016

Movie Review: Cinderella (2015) with Lily James, Richard Madden, and Cate Blanchett

So. What in the world to do when there’s something I love SO much, yet so much of what there is to possibly say has already been most beautifully and excellently said in so many different places? Definitely a rather discouraging predicament if ever there was one. ;) Especially as my feelings are so hard to put into words anyway… They’re all too swirling and magnificent and deeply tied to the story itself to be easily framed.

(A picture’s sometimes worth a thousand words, so I could just give you a post full of splendiferous screencaps and my 100% thrilled stamp of approval, but… I suppose that wouldn’t really be quite adequate. ;))

So onward!

To begin, Ever After and the 2015 are often compared. Honestly, I often do the same -- to the detriment of neither. In short, Ever After still holds its prominent position near the top of my All Time Favorite Films list (you can read my review here), but AS 'Cinderella', the 2015 takes the medal with flying colors, going beyond my favorites into the ‘just IS’ category -- much in the way of the original fairy tale itself.

From beginning to end, it’s complete and utter gorgeousness. As I mentioned to a friend after first seeing it -- everything they could possibly do wrong, they did right.

And the music!!!!!!! As we all know, the music is beyond amazing. It makes me want to laugh and dance and cry and sing all at once.

A most important note. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I always choose what “extras” I watch with extreme care and I HIGHLY recommend the ones on here. They’re absolutely fascinating, particularly on the BluRay edition. It’s so delightfully wonderful to see just how much genuine enthusiasm and contagious energy and excitement everyone brought to it.

The mix of periods they bring in with the dresses and fashion pieces is stunning. As one person said on the commentaries, each of the ladies’ dresses at the ball would ordinarily be something they’d put on a leading lady in any other film. They also brought out a whole bunch of genuine, archive jewelry as well (some of which you get to see much closer up on the commentaries). It’s all incredible.

I love how the careful mix of eras (from about 1800 to the 1950’s or thereabouts) brings it very much within our recent historical framework, while creating at the same time such a vast, sweeping, timeless effect. 

Incidentally, while I’m on that similar topic, I think their choice to use a voice over technique (i.e. having the fairy godmother narrate a LOT of the story) contributes hugely to that overarching magnificence -- a fresh rendering of something that’s blossomed for centuries thanks (primarily) to the oral tradition. It’s brilliant. 

Now for a closer look at the blue theme. Ella’s dress first. ;D

With the hundreds and hundreds of breath-catching sparkles and layers and layers and layers of swirling blue, it’s basically a figment of my imagination come to life. It’s beautiful and dazzling and… scrumptious.

(Sweetness and romance completely personified.)

There are SO many fairy tale colors playing off each other in this, that it took me a little bit to see some of the other key places blue particularly pops out. 

Like in the clock tower striking midnight.

And it perfectly illuminates Cinderella herself. That and the butterflies. I don't know whether the following was intentional or not (but I tend to think they definitely knew what they were doing). 

Blue is, of course, a tremendous symbol of fidelity -- of loyalty, trustworthiness, faithfulness. And (to paraphrase an internet source), butterflies are often viewed around the world as representing ‘endurance, change, hope, and life.’ Historically, Christianity has viewed the butterfly as a symbol of resurrection.

All of which ties with such utter perfection into Cinderella’s character.

With this film, they weren’t going for a new twist on Cinderella. This is the original story, the sweeping Big Picture -- the stuff of fire and dreams and valley lands and mountaintops.

The trick is in reticence; in giving just the right amount of details and development with each and every character. 

This version particularly highlights the inherent beauty of goodness. So one thing I really appreciate is that there are other outwardly lovely women throughout. Yes, Cinderella’s breathtakingly beautiful, but -- gentle and soft spoken, starved for kindness yet always giving, sweetly ingenuous yet strong and mature -- it’s her heart and soul that sets her apart.

And so we catch the depth of her stepmother’s pulled-up-short line in the attic. The first time I ever saw it (in the theater), my jaw almost dropped at that point. I couldn’t believe the directors were so forthright about the depth of the opposition. The polar opposites -- good and evil. They don’t pussyfoot around it. 

Sometimes I get this teasing idea… Why couldn’t the stepmother (still for purely self-interested reasons) have just made peace with Cinderella after the ball, once she knew the prince was in love with her? Rather than still conniving for her own daughters? Why wouldn't she? It would have worked out for her best interests in the long run.

But controlling and manipulative and prideful people don’t think that way. They don’t act that way. Pride does not easily beg mercy and forgiveness.

No, there can be no compromise. And so we have, too, themes of contrasted pride and humility.

So yes, I think it’s a fantastic twist when the stepmother is trying to coerce her at the end. And then Ella sacrifices herself -- her loyalty and fidelity rising to the scope and scale of protecting the kingdom itself. 

She sacrifices herself out of love for her prince and for the good of the kingdom -- and she comes shining forth as tried and tested gold. She will be a worthy and a faithful queen.

~     ~     ~

And more miscellaneous moments I love in a movie wherein I love every minute:

I love the throat-clearing major domo. :)

I love the soaring, pounding, tingling exuberance of those few split seconds when we first meet the prince.

I love the father-son relationship between Kit and the king. I love how much they love each other. I love their humor and what a truly dutiful son Kit is.

The scene with the court painter is delightfully fun. “Stop. I’m on the ground. I am literally on the ground.” 

I love Kit and the Captain’s friendship.

*Spoilers* I love Kit coming along as a common soldier at the end (one of my favorite moments ENTIRELY).

I love the, “I speak French not Italian.”

I love the fairy godmother -- hilarious and nervous of her own powers.

I love Ella getting in the carriage and her godmother chastising Mr. Lizard for “whittering on” about the “lovely blue.”

I love the: “They're all looking at you...” Believe me, they're all looking at you.”

I love the “would/wouldn’t” banter between Kit and his father, echoed with Kit and Ella’s “should/shouldn’t” at the swing. And then the romantic slipper moment.

I love his little moment puzzling about the “lizards and pumpkins and things.”

I love all the footmen desperately trying to figure out who the mysterious lady is.

I love how Kit actually gets to see the golden carriage.

I love the whole heart-wrenching scene with his father dying. 

I love how he actually becomes king.

I love the stepsisters’ polka dot dresses.

I love the mice running out on the beam just above Ella as her father is walking away from her to meet her stepmother. 

And I love how they see her all the way through to a new man in her life -- husband and protector. :)

(See them? :) And ohh, I hadn’t noticed till just now, but look at 
the echoing lines of the pillars and half circle outline in these two shots!)

I love how he’s actually wearing a wedding ring at the end. (Obvious, I know, but I like it.)

So in conclusion: exquisite -- pulling your heart out with beauty and romance and story – this film is a complete and thorough joy!

Tell me! Have you seen it? What think you?



    I. Must. See. This.

    It's official! I LOVE LOVE LOVE this version. Oh, and another thing . . . I need a wedding dress exactly like Cinderella's :P

    1. Rosie,
      THANK YOU!!! ;D

      *grinning* I just CAN'T WAIT till you can see it!!!!!!!!!! ;D :D

  2. Ohhhhhh . . . Heidi . . . I want to see this movie SOOOOOOOOOOOOO BADLY!!! This is one of the most beautiful reviews I've ever read--thank you so much for sharing it!!

    I loved how you talk about the blue color so much. Blue is my favorite color, and you're right--it has a very important symbolic value. I always associate it with the Virgin Mary because she's always wearing a blue cloak :-) So yeah--blue makes me very happy!

    I'm with Rosie--I definitely want a wedding dress like Cinderella's. Maybe not that exact style--but that fabric? YES YES YES.

    1. jessica,
      Ohhhhh.... thank you so so much!!! :) :) (I'm just all over tingly thrills in anticipation for when you can see it. ;D)

      And blue is uh-mazing. So much incredible meaning in it...

      Her wedding dress... yes!! You know, the first time I saw it, I was kind of going, "Oh, it's pretty and it fits in very nicely with the whole scene, etc..." but now I'm pretty fairly crazy about it. The understated elegance and the 21st century styling yet still fairy tale beauty... Eeeee I LOVE IT, soooooooooo beautiful!!!! ;D

  3. This movie!! Possibly my favorite movie of 2015!!! Great review! I loved how you found so much symbolism in a Disney movie and in the most ordinary of background material. Such as colors and butterflies. Well done! Also I'm impressed that you didn't dwell on the secular ideals such as belief in magic (or magic in general) or the mundane and overused idea of 'dreams come true.'

    1. Ivy Miranda,
      Thank you so much for your kind encouragement!! :) And yes, I discovered a LOT of new favorites in 2015 (an incredible number actually), but this one... I'm seriously at a loss for words. It's just huge.

  4. Oh, I LOVE this movie! I've put it as a tie with Ever After because both movies are so good and beautiful and gorgeous! :) And for some reason, I read the artist's quote out loud in a French/British accent?!?! :P

    You did a really fantastic job with the review, Heidi! I love how you said what you loved about the movie ;)

    1. Blessing,
      YES!!!!!!!! Both are so amazing and gorgeous and utterly breathtaking. :D

      *laughing* Yes, most DEFINITELY. His accent and that entire scene are absolutely. priceless. The End. :)

      Ohh, thank you SO much!! ;)

  5. DAAAAAAHHHHHH. This MOVIE. I mean. I think I'll go cry now...

    1. Olivia,
      Eeeeeeeeee.... I hope this doesn't sound terrible, but your comment made me sooooo happy!!!!! I do LOVE it when we end up laughing and crying together over the same thing. ;) :) :D

      (Also, I just HAVE to mention this... Right this minute I'm rather ridiculously pleased, because I just realized how well my new background coordinates with the pictures at the end of the post and ALSO how my LOTR and Fairy Tales and Princess buttons are all lining up with the wedding collage. I'm just grinningly happy with it!! ;P)

    2. Eeeeks! I never responded to this. (Lucky thing I had a craving to re-read this review when I saw it on your sidebar. ;))

      I knoooooooow! Twinsies. <3

      Ack, the happies! Eeeee, I hadn't noticed that, but I went back and looked, and yes!! The Princess and Fairy Tales buttons DO line up well with the wedding collage! (WHICH IS SUCH A PRECIOUSLY PRETTY COLLAGE BY THE WAY.)

      Hope you're doing splendidly, my dear, dear friend! *hugs*

  6. A hundred times yes!! The perfect words, the real essence of the movie! I love how you elaborated on the themes of courage and kindness and I just love this review and the pictures and especially all the little moments you love at the end! :D

    1. Faith,
      Ohh, thank you so much!! Truly, that means a LOT to me to hear that. *And smiling all over* I'm so very glad you enjoyed it!!! :)

  7. EXCELLENT review, Heidi! What you said about the color blue and the butterflies was quite interesting. It's neat when you can find that hidden symbolism in stories.

    And the stepmother! I hadn't really thought about that before, but you're so right! It would have made a lot more sense for her to make things up with Cinderella right away instead of continuing to forward the interests of herself and her daughters. (By the way, I did think her plan for running the kingdom was rather laughable. Did she seriously think that would work?) Anyway, your point about controlling and prideful people...hold it! I'll just quote you, that's easier. ;) "But controlling and manipulative and prideful people don’t think that way. They don’t act that way. Pride does not easily beg mercy and forgiveness." That is an excellent observation, and very well put. And it really is true. In grasping solely for our own interests we handicap ourselves and actually lose much more than we gain.

    Aww, yes! Kit's relationship with his father. I love that! Kit is probably my favorite character in the movie. And yes! The "would/wouldn't," "should/shouldn't" banter! :) Haha! My siblings and I have also been laughing about the prince's line to the Captain of the guard when he comes upon him in the forest. "Kit! Kit! It's Kit! I'm Kit!" Hahaha! It's hilarious how many times he says his name in the space of a few seconds. :D

    Lovely post, Heidi. And, by the way, the Cinderella week was splendid! Thanks for hosting it. I really enjoyed it! :)

    ~Miss March

    1. Miss March,
      Thank you!! Isn't it fascinating?!?

      Yes, I find that all sooo intriguing and thought-provoking. And btw, your summary at the end there is excellent. :)

      Hee! I KNOW. I do think Kit's is about the only name you could say that fast/that many times! ;D And the fencing scene is another top favorite of mine. "You don't suppose she has a sister, do you?" ;D Every last scene... I just love it all so much.

      And awwww, thank you! I'm so glad you enjoyed it!! :)

  8. I also thought of butterflies = new life and hope. That had to be intentional. Blue is also a symbol of respect and authority and trustworthiness, so that's pretty cool worked in there too. Obviously, we associate green with envy, and Lady Tremayne wears green a LOT.

    1. Hamlette,
      Yes, I think with all the hours and hours of thought and work going into it, it had to have all been intentional. And oooooh, "respect, authority, and trustworthiness" -- I like that!! That would fit perfectly with Kit and the Captain and everyone on that end, too. :) And yes, most definitely on the green! ;)

  9. HEIDI! This review!! It's SO beautiful! I read it for the first time a few days ago and decided to come back later so I'd have more time to write a thorough comment. Now that I'm back I'm still not sure how to write this as there's just SO many good things in this!

    I loved how you write about the deeper meaning behind the blue-and the butterflies! I found that very interesting. :)

    And the point about having many lovely women in the film, but Cinderella still being the most beautiful because of her goodness and kindness--I love it!!

    Your thoughts on the villains are so wonderful I'm starting to be amazed at how much depth I missed the first time I watched this!

    He has a wedding ring in the last scene?? Aww, I didn't realize that! I love that. :)

    This was such a splendid review, Heidi!! I would say more, but I think it would just be reechoing most of your own sentiments. ;)

    1. Natalie,
      Ohhh, I do hope you can see it again sometime soon! :) I definitely catch more each time I see it. (*coughs* I don't think I'll try and tell you how many times that is/that I've seen parts over. *coughs again*) But anyhow, as I was saying, I'm still noticing things. Mark of a most good and excellent story that. ;D

      And yes, he does!!! :D It's kind of hard to see on our large screen, but on a computer you can just see it at the beginning of the final scene. :)

      Heehee. Yes, you know I completely understand said predicament and THANK YOU!!!!! ;)

    2. Heidi,
      Well, I already told you this over email, but I'M WATCHING CINDERELLA AGAIN! It's just so wonderful. :)

      I'll have to watch for the ring when I reach the end!

  10. Okay. I did it. I DONE WATCHED THIS MOVIE. And now I can talk about it!!!!!! :-)

    First, I LOVED it. It was so well-done, it just blew me away. I couldn't believe it.

    You're so right about Ella--the filmmakers really worked hard to show how she was beautiful BECAUSE she was good, and that without her inner goodness, her outward beauty would have been worthless. And yet, it wasn't done in an overly didactic way--it seemed natural and genuine. And I loved it.

    The butterflies!!! YES. I think they were definitely intending them for a symbol of rebirth/resurrection--did you see how they kind of "fluttered" around Ella for several moments before settling on her shoes and neckline? Sort of a "rising up from the ashes" kind of thing. Literally. I'm certain it was intentional . . . and it made me really happy! :-)

    Plus, have you noticed how much Ella herself is like a butterfly? Not in the way people usually use the term--she's not "flighty" or inconstant or anything--but she's so soft and delicate and she kind of "floats" around instead of walking. If you know what I mean. I don't know . . . she just makes me think of a pretty butterfly :-)

    And Kit. OH MAH WORD. I love him soooooooooooooo much, I don't think I can even tell you. And his relationship with Ella is just . . . I CAN'T EVEN.

    Do you know what I really, really, REALLY enjoyed about it all? His relationship with Ella is love-at-first-sight--but it's the REAL kind. It's not that he immediately felt EVERYTHING he could possibly feel upon first meeting her--of course not. His love grew greater and greater as he got to know her better; and that's only natural. But what makes it "love at first sight" is that he did KNOW, as soon as he met her, that he had found his girl. That they were meant for each other. And he was right. HE WAS RIGHT. That's the kind of love at first sight that really IS possible in real life--and it made me sooooooooooo happy to see it portrayed so beautifully.

    Kit's father's death makes me want to cry. SO. SAD. And yet it's so heartwarming at the same time.

    And the DANCE!!!!!!!!!!!! SHEEEEESSSHH. I don't think I can even tell you how much I loved it. Especially when he takes her out to the garden :-) "Lizards and pumpkins and things . . . ?" Oh, my gosh. I just LOVE how he can see the funny side of it all, as well as the serious side. He's completely crazy about Cinderella, but he's not so wrapped up in his feelings that he can't pause a moment to laugh at a good joke. Because he has an actual sense of humor. GOLLY I LOVE HIM SO MUUUUUUCH.

    Long story short: Phenomenal movie. And a fantastic review. Thank you for sharing, Heidi! :-) :-)

    1. jessica,
      Eeeeeee....!! I'm just so-grinningly-THRILLED that we can enjoy this movie together now!!! ;D

      Ooooh, I love love that "rising from the ashes" line. And you're right about her very movements themselves. I notice them a lot, but hadn't connected them with the butterfly idea at all. . . and I like it! :)

      On Kit and Ella's relationship: YES, EXACTLY!!!!!! You said it all SO. WELL. It's just absolutely, incredibly, beautifully gorgeous.

      AND THE DANCE!! And his sense of humor... and not being too wrapped up to get a joke and... Hee. I'm literally underlining every single word you said and trying to think of something halfway adequate to say in reply. *takes a deep breath* No, I think I'm just simply going to have to go off expiring in capitals and exclamation points. . . ;D :D

      *disappears into the distance alternately laughing and singing with happy incoherence*

      (Pops back for just a moment to say THANK YOU SO MUCH AND YOU SHOULD HAVE SEEN MY FACE WHEN I GOT YOUR LOVELY LONG COMMENT. And in case you couldn't tell, I LOVED IT!!! ;))

    2. Yayyyyyyy!!!!! So happy we can talk about this together now!!! :-)

  11. Oh, I love this movie! And what a splendid review! I might be a little bit late with commenting, but I just found your blog. It's lovely!


I'd love to hear your thoughts and look forward to further confabulation. Please just be courteous to one and all. (Oh, and I love thoughts on old posts, so comment away!)

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