Yesterday we went to see Cinderella at the cinema. This was VERY exciting as all three of us had been waiting for it to be released since we first saw the trailer before Christmas. I should explain that the Teen, the Tween and I are all huge Disney fans – me probably the most out of all of us. I spent my childhood dreaming of visiting Disneyland but my parents had other ideas; all family holidays were spent either lurching around the English Channel in a small boat or traipsing round endless French vineyards watching grown-ups taste wine. Of course now that I am (apparently) a grown up myself I can appreciate their holiday choices but at the time all I wanted in was Mickey and Minnie. By the time I actually made it to Disneyland I was 29 years old and every time I set eyes on the great Mouse himself I had some sort of weird Pavlovian reaction where I just burst into tears. Happy tears, but tears nonetheless. It was pretty embarrassing, especially as I was on a work trip not a holiday.
Anyway, I’ve transferred my Disney-love to my children and they have grown up knowing all the classic films and the new releases, and even now we all sit down to watch a new Disney Channel flick as soon as it is aired (what’s not to love about Teen Beach Movie…?!). The original Cinderella is a particular favourite, especially with Clover who spent a good eight months wearing nothing but her blue Cinderella costume when she was about three years old.
So it was with high expectations that we took our seats for Kenneth Branagh’s interpretation of the fairy tale. You’ve probably guessed by now that we were never going to be the most critical audience but, even so, we really did love the film. Lily James took to title role beautifully, her Cinderella had a fragile breathiness that belied the actual long-suffering grit of the character. Cate Blanchett was quite magnificent as the evil step mother and her portrayal was sufficiently dignified to avoid veering into panto ‘baddie’ territory. Richard Madden was, of course, a super handsome Prince Charming but (and maybe this is my age) it was his father the King, played by the wonderful Derek Jacobi who stole my heart. The theme of loss and grief is quite strong in the film with no less than three bereavements (we cried at each one) but the tone is lightened by the not-so-ugly sisters Holliday Grainger and Sophie McShera and a short but sweet cameo from Rob Brydon. I can’t finish this role call without giving due credit to the magnificent Helena Bonham-Carter who was exactly the Fairy Godmother I would like next time I’m down on my uppers please. Old favourites from the animated version were present in Gus-Gus the mouse and Lucifer the malevolent moggy, and there were also some cute nods to the original such as the little bluebirds circling overhead. The whole film was both rich and faded in colour and at times the CGI made it seem almost like an animation itself, all this added to the magic and drew us in totally to the make believe world where geese can drive carriages and shoes are made of glass. By the time we had reached the happy ever after scene we were so immersed that it was almost a shock when the credits rolled – like waking from an amazing dream and feeling disappointed that it wasn’t real life. I think that sums up my love of all things Disney – I wish it was real life. I want to live in a world where teeth are white and hair is shiny, good prevails over evil and the mean girls always get their comeuppance. Most of all I want to be swept off my feet by a handsome hero so that we can gallop off into the sunset to find our own happily ever after. Is that too much to ask?