Behind the Goodness in Disney’s New CINDERELLA
By Evy Baehr, Executive Managing Editor
Walt Disney Studios is finally doing the live action version of CINDERELLA. This version really emphasizes Cinderella being good and kind to others. In fact, Director Kenneth Branagh even said at a recent press day Movieguide® attended, that they wanted her to be like a “Saint Joan character, a girl with faith.”
The only question, Branagh added, was “how can we present that and not make her a saint in fact, not make her too removed. How can she be somebody people could identify with and say, ‘Maybe I could take that path’?”
When Lily James was taking on the roll of Cinderella, Branagh told her he wanted the character to have a “generosity of spirit.” James related to this, he said, because her own father had told her when she was a young child to have a generous sprit.
In this version of Cinderella, there was a decision to include Cinderella’s parents, Producer Allison Shearmur said, adding, “She is the way she is because she was loved as a child.” Branagh also said establishing a “family life [for Cinderella before her stepmother arrives] was important.”
“I think it’s kind of refreshing also,” Shearmur continued, “that this movie doesn’t force itself to be modern by complicating the relationship between a kid and their parents. Let’s face it, it has become a bit of a trope and cliché that if somebody has a trouble childhood it’s because of trouble with the parents.”
Thus, when Cinderella is asked why she stays with her evil stepmother, even with the bad treatment she receives, Cinderella says she’s “keeping a promise to her mother” to stay and maintain the house they loved and be good and kind at everyone.
It was important for the filmmakers that they didn’t show Cinderella as the victim of her circumstances, but rather to have her see the world positively, for what it could be if only we strived to be good and kind. Branagh hopes that with a heroine who is good and kind, then “goodness can be reinvented.”
“Ken had a very clear point of view of what was important to him,” Shearmur added. “I remember the first time we met with him, he said, “Let’s make a story about kindness as a super power.’ When you think this is a guy who brought us THOR, you knew he understood the analogy he was making. In a time where female heroines, Katniss Everdeen in THE HUNGER GAMES and Tris in DIVERGENT, have a manifestation of their strength [that] is a lot more physical. . . this Cinderella in her self strength is internal.”
There is also a wonderful message of forgiveness in CINDERELLA that was very intentionally done by the filmmakers. Of course, such a message matches a Christian worldview.
As the movie’s writer, Chris Weitz, also said, “I’ve got a little girl on the way; you realize what a tremendous responsibility [that] is. You get a main line into the hearts and minds of children. So you have to be careful with that.”
That is exactly how we feel at Movieguide® in protecting the eyes and hearts of the innocent from bad, destructive images and ideas in the mass media of popular entertainment.
If you want to know whether CINDERELLA is a fit for your family, check back with Movieguide® for our full review of the movie on this website at www.movieguide.org when the movie finally opens on Friday, March 13.
17 Cutest Cats in Movies
By Evy Baehr, Executive Managing Editor
1. Hello, Simba is clearly number one cute.
Movie: Lion King
2. Monty from Stuart Little makes clumsy look cute.
Movie: Stuart Little
3. Garfield, it’s all about that fluff.
4. Lucifer, he’s a cute kitty even if he isn’t purrfect.
5. Let’s face it, the Aristocats are the stars of their own movie for a reason.
Movie: the Aristocats
6. Hard to be cuter than Milo.
Movie: Milo and Otis
7. Si and Am’s cuteness gets them places.
Movie: The Lady and the Tramp
8. It’s for sure, you would never want to lose Sassie.
Movie: Homeward Bound
9. If wishes were horses we would be able to keep these guys, Sangha & Kumal, as pets.
Movie: Two Brothers
10. Azrael is a trouble-maker, but just so cute.
Movie: The Smurfs
11. Aslan has looks and wisdom, the whole package really.
Movie: THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA
12. Mittens the Cat, come on, so darling.
13. Figaro’s cuteness spans history.
14. Puss has those eyes…can’t deny those eyes…
Movie: Puss in Boots
15. Snowbell, just look at that mane.
Movie: Stuart Little
16. Alex is so cute he’s helped create a franchise.
17. Bonus hour: Rufus is loving and cute.
Movie: The Rescuers
By Evy Baehr, Executive Managing Editor
Immigrating to France, the Kadam family must build up their Indian Restaurant in the midst of stiff competition in THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY. THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY is a pro-family movie with a moral message. THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY is coming out August 8th, staring Helen Mirren and Om Puri, plus some newcomers.
Movieguide® had the chance to speak with Mirren on her role as the competing restaurant owner. Make sure to check out the full review of THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY on www.movieguide.org.
Question: Your character in the movie has an amazing capacity for le moujuos, the perfect thing to say. Is it nice when a script makes you that little bit cooler than you are in real life?
Helen Mirren: Of course! Why do you think we become actors? For that very reason! We get our best lines written for us, and you know, we look intelligent, and we look witty, and we don’t really have to do anything but say the words. But, having said that, that line was absolutely scripted, as you rightfully pointed out, a wonderful line. In fact, we did improvise quite a lot in this film as well, because Lasse (the director) likes to, and I think that’s his magic as a film director. As you all know, film is a very cumbersome, technical, heavy medium. It’s very hard to make a soufflé of a film, which is hopefully what this is, a well-risen soufflé. It is very hard to maintain the lightness of touch. He achieved it by. . . we would shoot the script, and then we would always improvise mess around a bit. So, the set was a very improvisational set, which was lovely.
Question: To what degree was it a pleasure for you to work with Mr. Puri, who is so renowned in a different cultural tradition?
Helen: Yes, different but irreversible. The interesting thing is, especially of the generation that Om is from, there was a great appreciation of English, British because of the connection, but there was always a great tradition of classical theater. I think it’s partly why the Brits and the Indians on certain levels got along very well together. Especially in the world of theater there is this classical tradition. Both of us have done a lot of theater. So, in many ways, Om and I had more in common with each other than maybe I had with Manish or Charlotte, because they come from a sort of very different acting background. Having said that, I have to say you know they were both just so wonderful to work with, but Om and I just naturally feel into it. That was very easy for both of us because we knew of each other’s work. We had enormous respect for each other, and … it’s a shame Om isn’t here because you would fall in love with him. He has this wonderful warmth. . .. He was the guy who would cook these big feasts. He would cook Indian food for everyone, and make a family feeling on the set. Om created his family off the set. It was brilliant.
Question: Just curious, your character in this movie really has a moment of redemption that kind of carries through.
Question: Now, when you tackle somebody and you read the first part of the script, and they can kind of be cold or icy or mean or whatever is it important for you that they have that moment of redemption or is it just kind of a nice plus for this one per se?”
Mirren: In this case, yes. I really wanted to play Madame Mallory because she’s French, and I’m dying to be a French actress, and my pathetic attempt at being a French actress, but if she’d just been a mean French person I don’t think I would’ve gone along with it. Also, because I think it’s one-dimensional. You know we’re all a bit paranoid about the French, aren’t we? I know a lot of Americans are, and they feel just so intimated by the French. Although I do speak good French so it’s easier for me, but you know the French can be very, very intimidating and so this sort of cliché of the cold judgmental, nasty, uptight French person. I wouldn’t be happy with just playing that at all. I have lived and worked in Paris and have met such kindness in Paris with people I didn’t know. The Parisians seem on the surface to be so cold and judgmental and sort of superior, but actually they’re incredibly kind-hearted and generous, and I learned that in Paris.
Question: Can you actually cook? Or, are you just a tremendously engaging fake?
Mirren: I’m the engaging fake. Well, actually I don’t cook in the movie. I run the restaurant. She knows food and understands food and employs very good chefs. She doesn’t actually cook herself. She tastes and judges, but luckily, she doesn’t cook, because I would reveal myself very rapidly to be somewhat inept. The only thing I have to do is break eggs.
Question: What should viewers take away as the message of this movie in your opinion?
Mirren: Well, love thy neighbor. That’s the hardest much more difficult than do not covet thy neighbor’s wife. That’s easy. Love thy neighbor is difficult, that’s why there are wars. It’s the hardest and the most important.
Question: You’ve worked with some of the great directors of all time. What is it are you looking from a director when you are actually acting on set?
Mirren: I think what you want is a comfortable environment that you feel you can invent. Again, because film is such a cumbersome, technical, huge thing, it’s hard to create that little space of peace, calm, creativity and ease, and that’s what you want the director create for you. So, when you walk onto the set, you forget all of that and the fact that it’s costing so much money, but here, you are on your little playground, and you can invent and be free. Encouragement really is simple and I know it’s pathetic we need to be encouraged, but we do. I’m in the middle of working on a film called WOMEN IN GOLD. The film is directed by Simon Curtis, who worked as my assistant many years ago. He was getting my fan mail and now he is my director.
Question: What’s that dynamic like working with him now?
Mirren: He’s not my assistant; he is my director. If my director is a 16-year-old girl or boy, my director is my director, and I give them all my respect and my attention. It doesn’t matter what age they are or anything. If you sign up, then you sign up to this director, and my feeling is that you should just say, okay, this is your project. How can I serve your project. That’s what the relationship is. Of course, within that you contribute hugely with your ideas and your inventions and that’s your job. I think film is the director’s median, surely. So, he is my director.
This is your opportunity to see the Movieguide® Awards on your Television!
Tonight, March 3rd, the awards will be on the Reelz Channel.
Check it out at 7:30pm Pacific/ 10:30pm Eastern.
To find out what channel The Movieguide Awards will be on in your area, click here:
Screenwriting Contest with the Largest Cash Prize of Any Similar U.S. Competition Announces Its First Annual Finalists
Hollywood, Calif. – Dr. Ted Baehr, founder of Movieguide®: The Family Guide to Movies and Entertainment, announced the top eight finalists for the inaugural Chronos Prize for Inspiring Screenplays by Established Filmmakers. Awarding $50,000 to the top entry, the Chronos Prize will be the largest cash prize for any competition of its kind in the U.S.
Supported by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation and set to be presented annually by Movieguide®, the Chronos Prize is designed to encourage professional and established writers to create stories that are compelling, entertaining, inspiring, spiritually uplifting, and increase man’s love or understanding of God.
“We are incredibly honored to recognize, in a significant way, the important contributions of established filmmakers in bringing family and faith centered stories to worldwide audiences,” Dr. Baehr said. “As we celebrate the beginning of the Chronos Prize – we are excited and hopeful that this well deserved recognition will be a vital tool in reshaping the future of the film and television industries.”
The winner will be announced at the 22nd Annual Faith & Values Awards Gala and Report to the Entertainment Industry on Feb. 7, 2014 at the Universal Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles.
This year’s finalists are (in alphabetical order):
Brian Bird and John Wierick of Dove Canyon, CA for THE MAGNOLIA PASSION
Art D’Alessandro of Maitland, FL for MIRACLE BOY
Nathan Frankowski and Matt Chandler of Camarillo, CA for LITTLE DRUMMER BOY
Matthew G. Hill and Landon Johnson of Anaheim, CA for BURNING AT BOTH ENDS
Heather Hughes and Kate Wharton of Seattle, WA for MERRY ME
Mark Nowrasteh of Austin, TX for END OF THE EARTH
Brad Silverman of Lancaster, CA for WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LEMONS
Rusty Whitener and Ann Tatlock of Pulaski, VA for PROMISES TO KEEP
Begun in 2013, with its inaugural year completing in February 2014, the Chronos Prize is designed to help established filmmakers who have made successful faith-friendly and faith-based movies and television programs and screenplays. It intends to reward successful established filmmakers who endeavor to create stories that are compelling, entertaining, inspiring, spiritually uplifting, and increase man’s love or understanding of God.
In addition to the Chronos Prize, the highlight of the MOVIEGUIDE® Awards each year is the presentation of the two $100,000 Epiphany Prizes for Inspiring Movies & TV. Also supported by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation, the Epiphany Prizes honor the best, most inspiring movie and television program of the previous year.
Author of “The Culture-Wise Family” and “How To Succeed in Hollywood (Without Losing Your Soul),” Dr. Baehr is chairman of the Christian Film & Television Commission® (CFTVC) and its family guide to movies and entertainment, Movieguide® (www.movieguide.org). CFTVC and Movieguide® are an international, non-profit ministry dedicated to “redeeming the values of the entertainment industry by influencing industry executives and by informing and equipping the public about the influence of the entertainment media.”
At the Faith & Values Awards, Dr. Baehr will present highlights from Movieguide®’s 2013 Report to the Entertainment Industry, a comprehensive financial analysis of the movie business showing what kinds of movies and what kinds of movie content moviegoers favor the most with their hard-earned money.
For more information about Movieguide® or CFTVC, visit www.movieguide.org or call 1-888-248-6689.
The John Templeton Foundation (www.templeton.org) funds independent research and public engagement to pursue big questions and discoveries on life’s purpose, human potential, and ultimate reality. The Foundation’s motto, “How little we know, how eager to learn,” exemplifies its support for open-minded inquiry, commitment to rigorous scientific research and related scholarship, and encouraging civil, informed dialogue among scientists, scholars, theologians, and the public at large.