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.