I am tremendously excited about this film–but more about that in a moment.
First, if you haven’t yet seen the beautiful trailer:
Growing up, I adored Cinderella–Disney, Broadway, Drew Barrymore, Gail Carson Levine’s Ella . . . it didn’t matter. Cinderella was my girl–the girl I wanted to grow up to be. Why? I think that answer is pretty obvious–and rather shallow, I’ll admit. True nonetheless.
You might be able to imagine my delight when last year I discovered that Cinderella was being remade (by Disney, no less) into a live action film (and with Downton’s Lily James!). For those who know me, you can only imagine how much more excited I was when I heard that King Henry V (a.k.a. Kenneth Branagh) was slated to be the director . . . What’s the big deal about Sir Branagh? This is where I tell you that Henry V was my other favorite movie growing up (strange–yes I know). I wasn’t allowed to watch that one when I had friends over. But I digress . . .
Yesterday, when the luscious looking movie’s brand new trailer made its first public appearance, there was (and still is) quite a buzz on social media. Rightly so–it appears that it will be a brilliant film. Excited as I was, I turned to Google to scour for all of the inside details that lay in store for the movie. Why yes, I was in full-on geek mode; it only happens on occasion. I was not disappointed. The most pleasant surprise came when I read several interviews conducted with Branagh, and I discovered the most pleasant confirmation:
Cinderella is not going to be a feminist movie.
What is true, however, is that Cinderella will be a pro-woman movie, yet it doesn’t cater to any of that overbearing victim-mentality feminist dogma (essentially, the most loudly-voiced part of feminism). Not at all. To reiterate Branagh, the film’s director, there is no victim or martyr-complex for this Cinderella–her strength is her compassion, courage and her kindness.
“I think that [Cinderella] learns to turn the other cheek with strength. She has no sense of self-pity, no sense of being a victim. She makes her own choices, She doesn’t indulge in her own pain or hardships. She looks at the world with compassion. I find her such good company because she’s so un-showy, and yet she’s so charismatic. I think she really knows herself.” ~ Sir Kenneth Branagh to Oh My Disney
It will be refreshing to see a courageous heroine on the big screen who isn’t given to retaliation, and yet whose strength is all the more evident because she chooses not to be the hapless self-absorbed victim.
Cinderella is not going to be an anti-feminist movie.
That’s just fine.
There is something positive to be said for Disney intentionally making its classic heroine pertinent to a modern female audience; really, it’s absolutely necessary. There has been lots of cultural commentary on the detriments of the golden Disney Princesses on modern-day female society–often termed “princess culture.” It’s entirely true that many of us grew up with warped views of dreams and social responsibility because of this propagated so-called “princess culture”–most of which was well-intentioned, but still inadvertently harmful.
“From the inside, we’ve given [the film] a contemporary feel that is human and humane and strangely enough, not built around the idea that Cinderella’s life depends on finding a man or things, like clothes or a title, or just hoping this magic will come along. It’s much more about who she is, what she feels about herself, and taking that kind of sort of spiritual cue to make it refreshing in a contemporary way.” ~ Branagh to E! News
It goes without saying that this production will not become a flagship for feminism rhetoric (no matter how much Bustle may wish for it )–unless a new brand of feminism that advocates for the inner strength of kindness, patience, compassion, grace, endurance, and even the beauty of femininity (this is Cinderella after all) arrives on the scene. Here’s to hoping.
There will always be injustice and oppression within the world and within our lives, but our strength isn’t necessarily defined by our ability to fight or even conquer (because sometimes, like Cinderella, we don’t always have that ability)–but rather, our strength may be found in refusing to play the victim, and instead exercising grace, hope, and even peace-filled endurance.
“[Cinderella's] life is challenging, no question – but she doesn’t regard [her hardships] as any worse or any more important than anyone else’s. She looks outward with compassion. She feels sadness when life comes around but she is not disposed to be melancholy or tragic. She wants to enjoy the time she has.” ~ Branagh to The Globe and Mail
With hope, I’m looking forward to a beautiful and balanced film that will depict exactly what its director has described.
There is so much more that could be said–biblically, spiritually, culturally . . . So, what are your thoughts about the upcoming film? Please, leave a comment.