When Disney announced that they were remaking several of their classic animated films into live-action, the easy and automatic response was horror. A horror increased by the release of Maleficent in 2014. (What kind of world would the new generation face if all Disney’s classics were now being told from the villain’s perspective?)
To our great relief, the two more recent remakes, Cinderella (2015) and The Jungle Book (2016), have proven that Disney has not lost their touch with the magic that made their best films true classics of the silver screen.
Upon re-watching Cinderella (2015), we picked up on a few thoughts to share here.
First and foremost, the film is delightfully traditional. It is not a frame by frame remake of the original animated classic, but retains the heart and soul of the original story. We see a young woman mistreated by her step-family, and treated more like a slave than a servant. The girl meets Prince Charming, and they fall in love. The rest, as they say, is history, or legend in this case.
When the Prince meets Cinderella in the woods while hunting, he does not immediately introduce himself as the actual Prince of the kingdom. Instead, he says his name is Kit, and is an apprentice learning his trade from his father in the palace.
What impresses Kit about Cinderella is not only her outward beauty, but the beauty of her character, seeing her care for even the forest creatures, and presenting the Prince with an idealism rarely spoken. He recognizes that true worth goes beyond skin and bones, but to the character within.
And rather than try to impress the pretty maid with his title, he takes the honorable route of humility. Claiming, truthfully, that he is a mere apprentice, a position that in the world of his era makes him slightly better than pond scum.
Despite the troubles she has with her step-mother and step-sisters, Cinderella maintains a superhuman cheerfulness and good temper, taking her ill-treatment in stride. Though she behaves better than anyone possibly could, we see her true goodness of heart. She has no ambitions to marry a prince like her sisters do, rather she is content with the idea of a happy family, taking care of the home her family has had for generations.
After her mother’s death, Cinderella faithfully remembers and follows the advice of her mother, “Have courage, and be kind.” (Difficult words to follow regardless of your position in life.) These words form Cinderella’s character and philosophy, giving her the endurance to put up with her family and maintain a good attitude, behavior that is eventually rewarded in the end.
Happily Ever After
At the climax of the movie, the moment when the Prince is about to put the slipper on his love’s foot, she asks him to first and foremost accept who she is. She is not a titled princess, she does not come from a wealthy family, ideas that would appall the majority of nobility. The Prince, however, only smiles and agrees asking that she accept him for being what he is, an apprentice learning his trade.
The scene above stated is telling. Both protagonists wish for the other to understand their true intentions and perspectives. Cinderella is not assuming anything greater than who she is, an example of true humility that sets her above many others. The Prince sees this humility as one of the reasons she is a true Princess, in character if not by title. For his part, the Prince understands his position, a humble, learning apprentice. Though noble by birth, he knows that he has to learn his job just like everyone else. He asks his Princess to accept that he is indeed still learning, and shows that he also views himself in a humble light.
Unlike many films of the modern era, we get to see a “Happily Ever After” ending, where the Prince and Princess (King and Queen really), rule the land to the end of their days as happy and just monarchs. Because of our politically correct and revisionist culture, we seem to forget the idea of a happy ending, as if by their nature they are discriminatory. The truth of it is, they are discriminatory. The wicked step-mother and step-sisters don’t, and never will, live happily ever after.
Final Thoughts (Don’t Worry Almost Done)
By the end of the movie, I was reminded of a few lines of Alice Cary’s poem Nobility.
Whatever men may say in their blindness
And in spite of the fancies of youth
There is nothing so kingly as Kindness,
And Nothing so Royal as Truth
Slight is the sting of his troubles
Whose winnings are less than his worth
For he who is honest is noble
Whatever his fortunes or birth
Cinderella reminds us of the truth in those words; that character, wherever it is placed, will be rewarded by and by.