Editor’s Note: Lori wanted to review and analyze Cinderella, so here she is in her second guest blog. Enjoy!

~ Matthew Bowman, Supreme Editor Monkey at Novel Ninja.

CinderellaI’ll say it right at the outset: Cinderella is one of the best movies I have seen recently.

Now, after I reviewed Old Fashioned — a movie I wanted to like — Matthew and I were both told on Facebook that we’re not qualified to review rom-coms, so I guess I’m not qualified here either. Or the haters can just go jump in the nearest lake.

The movie is visually beautiful, with a bare minimum of CGI.  The music is compelling, the acting is quite well done and convincing, the humor is tasteful and just enough to make the story light and pleasant (but not enough to make it silly) and the story is almost perfect.

Comparing this version to the original Disney Cinderella (1950), this one is superior in every way, and not just because it is a modern film with real actors.  The original Cinderella is a child’s movie, with a child’s plot.  There is no real development of anyone’s character, including Cinderella’s, the prince is barely in the movie at all, and most of the screen time is spent with Cinderella’s talking and singing animal friends.  This is not a bad thing in itself; I loved Cinderella as a kid (but not as much as Beauty and the Beast or The Little Mermaid).  It’s not a bad story; it just could have been so much better.

Fortunately for fans of the fairy tale, now it is.

I don’t think any SPOILER ALERTS are necessary here.  Even if you haven’t seen this version of Cinderella (you should do so as soon as possible), we all know the story, and we all know how it ends.

The Idyllic Beginning

At the beginning, we get the usual “once upon a time” voice-over.  That is done by Helena Bonham-Carter, playing the Fairy Godmother.  I liked that they let her do that — the Fairy Godmother narrating the story seemed to give it a little more seriousness.  She knows what she’s talking about.  It’s not the stepmother slanting your view of the story, or even Cinderella narrating her own tale, and slanting it the other way.  Nor was it an unknown “narrator” voice, like the one they used in the original cartoon, making it impersonal and “just” a voice over.  The Fairy Godmother is involved, but she’s also an objective third party.  This wasn’t something I noticed while watching (except for recognizing Helena Bonham-Carter’s voice), just when I stepped back and thought about why they made that decision.  The narration happens in various points throughout the movie, but the narration is not used as a crutch.  The movie tells its own story, and the narration just fills it out for you.  You see the setup for yourself; you don’t need the narration to tell you about the circumstances, again, like they did in the old cartoon.

Of course, the story starts out with a perfectly idyllic setting, with baby Ella and her two loving parents (Ben Chaplin and Hayley Atwell).  The narration tells you that Ella saw the world “not as it was, but as it might be.”  That is an important plot thread for you, and does a good job explaining her character as she gets older.  Ella’s father is a merchant, and frequently brings little Ella presents from France (they usually involve butterflies, which is important later).

This perfect childhood doesn’t last long, because Ella’s mother dies rather suddenly.  She tells her daughter that “you have more kindness in your little finger than most people have in their entire body.”  Her last piece of advice is to “have courage, and be kind” because “where there is kindness, there is magic.”  That recurs throughout the movie.

This isn’t just a cute little thing a dying mother tells her child to comfort her.  This is very important.  That little statement shapes Ella’s whole personality, and affects her decisions later in life, especially when the evil stepmother and stepsisters arrive on the scene.  It also isn’t just some cutesy fairy tale nonsense. That is the kind of message that little girls and boys watching this movie can take to heart.  Have courage against bullies, and be kind to everyone, no matter what they do to you.  She might as well have said, “Bless those who curse you, and be good to those who hate you.”  It’s a perfect example of a Christian message appearing in a secular movie, without that movie doing anything remotely resembling preaching.  The story gives the message, and you might not even realize it’s there unless you stop and think about it.

Old Fashioned could learn a lot from this movie.

So, Ella (Lily James) grows up with her loving father at her side, and her little animal friends around her.  These little animals are not the talking and singing version from the old cartoon, but they’re certainly cute enough to give you an “aww” moment.  They don’t actually talk, but their squeaking resembles words enough to let your imagination fill in the blanks (almost like having fun assigning actual words to R2-D2’s beeps and boops in the old Star Wars movies).  It was very well done — keeping the animals in the story, but not making it as frivolous as the originals.  Those singing and dancing (and clothed) animals would have been very out of place in this story.

When Ella’s father breaks the news to her that he is considering remarrying, it’s a very good scene.  He’s obviously worried about what she’ll think of the idea, but wanting “a second chance” for himself.  He’s spent so much time after the death of his wife being lonely and sad, and he wants to change that.  It’s a very realistic, human reaction, and Ella is very happy for him.

Enter the villainess and her two hench — I mean, daughters.

The Plot Thickens

Their appearance at the manor house was quite well done, especially with the costumes the three were wearing.  The stepmother, Lady Tremaine (Cate Blanchett), was wearing a combination of black and dark green, making her bright red hair and red lipstick stand out that much more.  I couldn’t help but think of the way the villainess was always portrayed in classic operas — with red hair, to be visible to the audience, and a deliberately sharp singing voice, to let the audience easily identify her.  The stepmother had both of those characteristics — the red hair, and a highly annoying laugh that reminded me of a braying mule.  You disliked her the instant she appeared, and not just because you know the story.  Cate Blanchett was perfect in the role.  Everything about Lady Tremaine — her walk, her posture, her smile, and her clothes — screamed “villainess.”

The two stepsisters, Anastasia and Drisella (Holliday Grainger and Sophie McShera), are as mean and selfish as they are in the old cartoon, and their clothes just as absurd, with loud, almost neon colors that draw your attention, but immediately make you want to cover your eyes and run in the opposite direction.  Their meanness is different, though.  Lady Tremaine is cold and calculating, while the daughters are just selfish and stupid.

The reason for Lady Tremaine’s meanness towards Ella is established very clearly, which is a change from the old cartoon.  You never know exactly why the stepmother hated Cinderella in the other version — it was just a fact of life.  This time, though, she has a reason.  She is in the middle of hosting a card party in the house, with lots of guests, music, laughing, smoking, and drinking (the colors of the guests match those of the stepmother — dark and brooding — with the two sisters standing out without their positively blinding wardrobe and accessories).  Ella’s father is working on the books in his study, and Ella joins him.

The two talk for a while about him leaving again, and Ella wants him to stay.  He asks her what she would like for him to bring back for her (“your sisters have asked for parasols and lace”).  She says she would like “the first branch that brushes your shoulder on your journey” because he will have to keep it with him, and think of her, and when he brings it to her, it will mean that he will return with it.  It might sound corny, but it is another illustration of Ella’s nature, and it was not out of place in the movie (anyone else saying it would be weird, but it worked for her and for the situation).  She doesn’t need parasols and lace — she needs her father and his love.

The conversation turns to him giving Ella advice, and this is the most important part of the scene.  He tells Ella to be kind to her stepmother and stepsisters, “even if they are trying at times.”  He reminds her that her mother is still here with them, in the house where they were all so happy together, and tells her that she shouldn’t forget her.  It seems like a very good conversation to have with a girl whose mother has died and who now has irritating stepsisters and a hard stepmother.  The only problem is that Lady Tremaine was eavesdropping and heard the whole thing.

This makes the stepmother much more three-dimensional than she was in the cartoon version (or in any of the musical versions).  She’s cold, yes, but she wasn’t cruel until she heard that conversation.  She is living in Ella’s dead mother’s shadow, and that has to hurt (if she had been a reasonable person, she could have said no to Ella’s father’s proposal and avoided the whole situation, but then there would be no story).

Ella’s father leaves the next morning, and now the fun begins.


What Happens When Father Isn’t Looking

Lady Tremaine’s abuse of Ella doesn’t start out with shouting or beatings.  It’s much more subtle than that.  She and Ella sit down to talk while the stepsisters are screaming at each other and running through the house.  Lady Tremaine mentions that they’re used to sharing a room, but it’s much smaller than they are used to.  Immediately, Ella volunteers to give up her room for the two sisters, because it’s the largest, except for the master bedroom.  Lady Tremaine thanks her, and then tells her that she can move to the attic “until she has the rooms redecorated, of course.”  Ella does not object, and goes up to the attic, where she talks to her animal friends (of course, the stepsisters hear her, and conclude that “she’s mad”).

The next day, the stepsisters are working on their “accomplishments” — one drawing, and one singing.  The singing was a nice nod to the old version’s “Sing, Sweet Nightingale” that the two sisters butchered during their music lesson.  It was not the same song, but had the same result — Lady Tremaine finally says, “Oh, do shut up.”

Ella, meanwhile, is making faces in the corner of the room — a grimace combined with a smile and a shake of the head, nothing mean about it — when Lady Tremaine catches her at it.  So, she “accidentally” knocks a biscuit off of her plate, and Ella graciously picks it up for her.

It’s the way the malice starts.  Lady Tremaine is taking shameful advantage of Ella’s kindheartedness, using it to manipulate her.  According to the friend who came with me to see the movie, anyone watching the movie who is familiar with the causes and progression of domestic abuse would probably recognize the method.  It starts with little things that wouldn’t give any warning that something mean is happening, and by the time you’re really on the receiving end of someone’s abuse, you’ve established a pattern that neither you nor the abuser would question.

It’s a gradual habit, and it was portrayed very well, and it’s a much more reasonable course of events than Lady Tremaine waking up one morning and beating up her stepdaughter.

A Death In The Family

Soon enough, though, a servant comes to the door and tells Ella that her father “took ill” on his journey and died.  This servant makes a special point to say that “he always spoke of you and how much he loved you” and that he told the servant to give Ella a piece of a tree branch.  Of course, Lady Tremaine overhears, and is visibly upset that the dying man didn’t have any gift or even a kind word for her — it was all about Ella.  The stepsisters react with nothing more than “what about my parasol?”  Here, Lady Tremaine snaps at them and tells them that that’s not important now.  For about three seconds, you think that she might be being nice to Ella after all, but that is shattered with her next statement: “what is going to become of us now?”

Fullmetal sad

Her decision is to fire all the household staff, and that’s when Ella becomes the maid, not because her stepmother ordered her to do anything; but because she was the kind person in the house who knew that these chores have to get done, and there’s no one else to do them.  Again, they took advantage of her kindness, and before she knew what was happening, they were treating her like a servant.


You can tell that she really didn’t see it coming when she has breakfast prepared for Lady Tremaine and her daughters, and sets a place at the table for herself (this is when the sisters start calling her “Cinderella,” because she slept in the kitchen by the fire, instead of in the cold attic).  That is when Lady Tremaine tells her that “I’m sure you would rather eat after the work is finished, wouldn’t you?” and glares at her until she goes back to the kitchen.  Once there, Ella breaks down and cries, because now she realizes what happened — she’s no longer a part of a family; she’s Cinderella, the servant (more on this later).

Cue the Handsome Prince

CINDERELLAAfter that, she meets the prince (Richard Madden) while riding through the forest.  She manages to chase the stag away from the hunting party, and the mysterious stranger sees her and catches her horse (I think Ella’s horse was excited and running away with her, and she could not get him to stop, which is why the prince chased her down to help her).  Their conversation is interesting, because again, it gives a character who had no personality at all in previous versions of the tale a very admirable personality.  Ella tells him that “just because it’s what’s done, doesn’t mean that it’s what should be done” in reference to their stag-hunting.  He looks confused for a moment, and then agrees with her.

Ella doesn’t recognize him as the prince, and is under the impression that he works at the palace; the prince does not correct her.  He says that he is an apprentice, which is true enough, and that he is called Kit (by his father, when he’s not irritated).  Ella asks him if they treat him well, and he answers “well enough” with a laugh before asking how they treat her.  Ella’s answer is very insightful: “They treat me as well as they are able.”  This is an extraordinarily charitable thing to say about people who are cruel to her.  Most people would immediately start complaining about how evil that family is, but not Ella.  She sees even them in a positive way — rather than saying that they’re cruel by nature, or just to spite her, or out of revenge, she is willing to believe that they simply don’t know any better.  She is kind to the people who have been anything but kind to her.  Once again, she blesses those who curse her, and does good to those who hate her.  The prince says, “I’m sorry.”  Ella answers that “It’s not your doing,” to which he responds “Nor yours, either, I think.”  This shows that the prince doesn’t just admire Ella’s pretty face; he sees her as a truly good person, even though they’ve only just met (more on this later, too).

When the prince’s guards come to escort him home, Ella and Kit part ways (after a pretty funny bit between Kit and the captain of the guard.  Kit has to cut him off before he says “Your Highness,” and it’s wonderfully awkward).

Why The Prince Is More Than Charming

Now we get to see a little bit into the prince’s life.  In the cartoon version, we don’t see him until the ball — just the king and the grand duke talking about him.  The king (played very well by Derek Jacobi) is dying, and is trying to get his son to marry a fine princess from a neighboring kingdom to further their own small kingdom’s chances (with an artist painting the prince’s portrait and giving running commentary in the background).  Kit’s answer is that “just because it’s what’s done doesn’t mean it’s what should be done.”  He’s obviously smitten with Ella, but at the same time, he is trying to honor his father and his responsibility to the kingdom.  It was his idea to invite all the eligible maidens to the ball, and his father agrees, thinking that there’s no way a common girl can outshine Princess Chelina of Zaragosa, and that he’ll marry the princess and secure the kingdom’s future, no matter what pretty girl he ran into in the woods.

Even Ella Hopes for a Lovely Night

The town crier (I love him, by the way) announces the ball, and Ella is the first in the family to hear of it.  She rushes home and tells the news, and of course, the stepsisters are already imagining being queen.  When Lady Tremaine tells Ella to go to the dressmaker’s and order three new gowns, Ella thanks her, assuming that one of them was for her.  Lady Tremaine corrects that preposterous notion, saying that one is for her, and that Ella can’t go, because no prince in his right mind would be interested in her.  Ella says she’s not even interested in meeting the prince — she wants to meet the kind apprentice she ran into in the woods.

Just like in the old cartoon, Ella fixes her mother’s pink dress (with some assistance from her mice friends, of course), and gets ready for the ball on her own.

Of course, she never makes it.  Her stepmother and stepsisters destroy her gown (not because she’d used their materials to fix it up, like in the cartoon) simply because she’s not good enough to go to the ball.

Good Things Happen for Good People

When Ella runs outside crying (again, exactly like she did in the other version), she’s pretty close to giving up on her ideas of magic.  Then she sees a woman outside the house, begging.  This is very important, and it is something that wasn’t in the old version (or any other one that I can think of).  She asks Ella for a piece of bread or a cup of milk.  Immediately, Ella dries her tears and goes to get her a cup of milk from a nearby jug.  The woman chugs it down, belches, and then changes into the beautiful Fairy Godmother.  This was good for a bit of humor, but it also shows the importance of kindness and selflessness.  The Fairy Godmother didn’t just appear and change Ella’s ruined dress into a ball gown; she made Ella prove herself first.  Ella rose to the occasion — she didn’t order the old woman away because Ella was upset and feeling sorry for herself. She put her own sorrows aside and helped someone in need, and only after that did she get the magic.  She had to earn it, and again, that’s a very important message for kids watching this movie.  You never know what kind of results your good deeds will have, and good things happen to people who do good things (I didn’t see a fairy godmother showing up for Anastasia and Drisella, after all).

The magical transformation of the pumpkin, the mice, the two lizards, and the goose was very entertaining (all thanks to Helena Bonham-Carter’s almost-silly interpretation of the character), and was visually stunning.  According to what I read before seeing the movie, there was a bare minimum of CGI used in this film (more on that later, too).  Of course, the palace was CGIed because a building like that doesn’t really exist, and the pumpkin changing into a golden carriage had to be animated, and her animal friends were obviously not real mice and lizards and birds, but it wasn’t overdone.  The characters move through real sets, and wear those real costumes, making it that much more realistic, with the CGIed magic being that much more impressive because it wasn’t used all over the place.

When the Fairy Godmother told Ella that she could give her a brand new dress, Ella asked her to change her mother’s dress into something wonderful instead, “because then it would be like she was with me,” and we get the beautiful transformation of Ella’s ratty pink dress into the absolutely gorgeous blue ball gown.  It was decorated with butterflies, giving Ella something to remember her father, too (a very nice touch by the costume designers).  Her glass slippers also have butterflies on them, and they are very beautiful as well.  The Fairy Godmother reminds Ella that she has to leave “before the last echo of the last bell of the last stroke of midnight” before everything changes back.  She gives Ella a slight dusting of glitter so that “her stepmother and stepsisters won’t recognize her,” and off she goes to the ball.

“I Have Found Her; She’s an Angel, With the Dust of the Stars in Her Eyes”

Ella is the last girl to arrive at the ball, and we have another nod to the original version, when she walks down a long hallway past the armed guards, to look curiously at her.  She knocks on a door, and steps through it and into the ballroom.


This is one of the most wonderful dramatic entrances I’ve seen.

Ella pauses on the landing, where the town crier was announcing all the guests, and curtsies to the king and the prince in their seats across the way (just as everyone else did).  The room is completely silent, and all eyes are on her.  The way they portrayed this was interesting — it’s not just the men in the room who are captivated by her; everyone was.  It’s not just because she’s a beautiful girl in a beautiful dress making a fashionably late entrance so that everyone can watch (if that were true, the women wouldn’t be looking on in wonder; they’d be offended at her lateness, or envious of her appearance, or otherwise finding fault).  They recognize, just as Kit did that day in the woods, that this isn’t just some ordinary girl.  She’s exceptional, and not just because of a pretty face and dress.  That is a difficult thing to accomplish in a movie, where you’re limited by what you can show (unless you want voice overs), but Kenneth Branagh managed it, and did it very well.

Ella recognizes Kit, and he recognizes her as the girl from the woods, but draws the conclusion that she really is a princess.  He then asks her to dance.

Beautiful.  That’s all I can say about that dance.  Absolutely gorgeous.


There is another polite nod to another version of this movie when Kit and Ella finish their solo dance, and the general ball begins.  The dancing is highly choreographed, and reminded me of the ball in the Rogers and Hammerstein version from 1997.  Of course, Kit and Ella leave the ball to talk.  Meanwhile, the town crier is trying to find out who the mysterious princess is, because no one seems to know (another good bit of humor).

Kit and Ella end up in a cute little secret garden, with a swing.  Of course, he asks her permission to push her on the swing, and her shoe slips off (nice little plot point there — the payoff of the shoe coming off was set up nicely, and in an oh-so-romantic fashion).

At the ball, Lady Tremaine overhears the Grand Duke (Stellan Skarsgard) saying that this is a big problem, because the prince is supposed to marry Princess Chelina of Zaragosa.  This is another important plot point, because it helps explain Lady Tremaine’s later actions.

Of course, the night is too short, and the bells ring at midnight.  Ella flees, and literally runs into the king on her way out the door.  She tells him that “your son is the most wonderful person I’ve ever met, and I hope you know that he loves you very much.”


This version actually has a chase scene in it, because the Grand Duke and the guards go after her at the request of the prince.  Fortunately, one of the lizard footmen manages to close the gate behind Ella’s carriage, and they can’t follow.  Everything turns back to normal, except for Ella’s glass slipper, which she hides under the floorboards in her room.  Lady Tremaine and her daughters are angry about the mysterious girl at the ball stealing the prince, but by the end of the scene, you can tell that Lady Tremaine is suspicious of Ella.

The King Is Dead; Long Live the King

Now, we have another departure from the old Cinderella story.  The prince doesn’t just rush off to find the mysterious princess from the ball.  The next time we see Kit, his father is dying.  This was a great conversation between a man and his son (and movies need more of those).  The king still wants him to marry Princess Chelina of Zaragosa, and Kit insists that “we don’t have to look outside our borders for strength.”  They simply have to “have courage, and be kind,” which, of course, is exactly what Ella told him.  The king asks what would happen if he commanded Kit to marry the princess.  With tears in his eyes, Kit says, “I love you, father, but I would have to refuse.”  The king is smiling, like he knew the answer before he asked the question, and tells Kit to marry for love, and to “find that girl.”  He puts one arm around his son, and dies.  Beautiful, very moving scene.

After a suitable period of mourning (so the Fairy Godmother narrator tells us), the town crier makes another proclamation: that our new king wants to find the mysterious princess, whom he loves, and asks that she show herself at the palace so that he can ask for her hand in marriage.  This is where the “try the slipper on every maiden in the kingdom” thing comes in.  She never showed up, so the king orders the Grand Duke and the captain of the guard to “spare no effort” to find her.

The Stepmother Never Quits

Meanwhile, we go back to Ella.  Her stepmother found the shoe in her room, and locks her in.  This is the only part of the story that I think was not well done.  While in the attic with Ella, Lady Tremaine tells a little story about her own life, how she loved her husband, had two daughters, and then had her whole world ripped away from her when he died.  The reason for the stepmother’s meanness was already established at the beginning of the movie, and this seemed to have no other purpose than to try to make you feel sorry for Lady Tremaine.  It was a bit jarring, and didn’t work.  If I had been writing or directing, I’d have left it out.  It didn’t ruin the story, but it did require an “almost” in front of the “perfect story” statement I made earlier.  On her way out the door, Lady Tremaine shatters the glass slipper.

Lori blog image

When we see her next, she’s talking to the Grand Duke, and handing him a piece of the broken slipper, saying that she found it on one of her servants.  The two of them conspire to keep Ella away from the prince.  In return for her help, the Grand Duke promises to make sure Anastasia and Drisella have “advantageous marriages,” and that Lady Tremaine can move up in society, as well.

Now the Grand Duke and the captain of the guard go around trying the remaining glass slipper on every girl in the kingdom (again, lots of humor here).  The magic slipper wouldn’t fit anyone but Ella, so the Fairy Godmother tells us (clearing up a bad plot hole from the other versions — of course that shoe would have been the proper size for some other girl in the kingdom).

When they get to Lady Tremaine’s house (the last one before they have to give up), both stepsisters try on the shoe, and don’t have any luck.

Help From Some Friendly Mice

Ella, meanwhile, is in the attic singing “Lavender’s Blue,” a song her mother used to sing to her.  This is where her animal friends can help, maybe not as much as they did in the old cartoon, but enough to save the day.  The mice band together and manage to open the attic window, so that Ella’s voice carries down to the courtyard where the Grand Duke, the captain, and the other guards are waiting.  The captain asks Lady Tremaine if there is another lady in the house, and she says “no.”  The captain insists that she’s lying, and the Grand Duke says “I trust the lady.”

Right here, one of the guards takes off his helmet, and reveals that he’s actually the new king, who busts the Duke for lying and tells the captain to go find the girl.  He does, and Lady Tremaine tries to forbid Ella to go with him.  The captain says, “I forbid you to forbid her.  Are you a goddess, madam?  Or an empress?  Who are you to stand against the order of the king?”  Lady Tremaine says, “I am her mother.”

You have to blink a few times, and maybe pop your ears, just to make sure you actually heard her correctly.  This woman is going to say that?  Fortunately, neither the captain nor Ella is fooled.  Ella takes the captain’s arm and leaves the room, saying “You are not, nor have you ever been my mother.”

Take Me As I Am

In the living room downstairs, Ella finds the king waiting for you.  He asks: “Who are you?”  Her answer is very interesting: “I am Cinderella.”  It’s the only time she uses the spiteful nickname for herself.  She asks the king if he would be willing to “take me as I am: an honest country girl who loves you.”  Of course, he’s perfectly willing to do just that.  The slipper fits her, and they leave together.

The story about the stepmother and stepsisters gets a bit of a conclusion, (as a change from the old version).  The two stepsisters try apologizing to Ella, who simply ignores them.  Ella says to Lady Tremaine just as she leaves the house: “I forgive you.”  This was a pleasant surprise — another very Christian message in a regular fairy tale.  The narrating Fairy Godmother tells us that Lady Tremaine left the kingdom with the Grand Duke, and neither of them were seen or heard from again.  We get to see the king and the new queen waving to the crowds after their wedding, and of course, they live happily ever after.

In short, the movie was just plain wonderful.  I hope that the remake of Beauty and the Beast is as beautiful as this one.  They did not change the story; they simply updated it and filled it out for you.

Addressing the Haters and Idiots

This would be a good time to answer some of the objections of the haters.

To anyone who thinks that Cinderella’s blue ball gown creates “an impossible body model for young girls“, get the hell over yourself.  No, her waist wasn’t digitized.  She’s got a small waist, yes, but the dress itself helps create that image.


Doesn’t look so CGI when the skirt isn’t visible, does she? Go look up the movie Fast Girls; you’ll see what her natural waist looks like.

The full skirt, combined with a corset, makes her waist look teeny tiny, and THAT WAS THE POINT, MORONS!  All you have to do is go back and watch Gone With the Wind.  Every woman in that movie apparently has an “impossible body model for young girls,” because their waists appear tiny.  Guess what — CGI wasn’t even remotely considered, let alone possible, in 1939.  Those women look like that because of the combination of corsets and full skirts.  And the idea that having a small waist is a bad influence on girls is probably the most shameless piece of hypocrisy I’ve heard this year so far.  People spend countless dollars trying to have small waists, with no help from anyone in any movie.  Real corsets are popular again, and so are “body shapers” available in every department store in the country.  So tell me again how Cinderella’s dress is a bad influence.  Go ahead.  I dare you.

To anyone who thinks that this movie “will cancel out all of the empowering things your daughters learned from Frozen“, first of all: “empowerment” is a joke, and just because you said that, I’ll make absolutely sure that none of my kids ever see Frozen at all; second, you obviously didn’t actually watch this movie if you think that Ella doesn’t actually have all the power she needs.

There is no sexism in this movie.  Prince Charming doesn’t rescue some useless servant girl because he’s a prince and she’s useless, or because he’s a boy and she’s a girl.  Anyone who says that wasn’t paying attention.  He doesn’t rescue her; he falls in love with her, and last time I checked, everyone loved stories like that.

Along those same lines, another objection: “But everything will change when [Cinderella] meets her Fairy Godmother, a guardian angel who has waited years to improve Cinderella’s life in any way, instead of helping her out when her parents died, or when her step family forced her into slavery. Thanks for the dress lady, but it would have been more helpful if you had bibbidi-bobbidi called child protective services like, eight years ago.”

Seriously, how stupid are you?  First, Ella wasn’t “enslaved” for eight years.  Her father didn’t remarry until she was an adult (if she’s old enough to marry a prince, then she’s an adult, period), and she wasn’t the household servant for very long.  So your objection on that point is completely groundless and utterly ridiculous.

Facepalm Implied

The most important counter to these stupid and agenda-driven objections is that Ella chose to remain where she was, and that was made perfectly plain in the movie.  That was her home, where she grew up, and she wanted to stay there.  She endured their abuse because she chose to, not because she was too weak to do otherwise.  She isn’t weak; she’s the opposite.  It takes a strong, brave person to endure someone else’s meanness, and she did it.  She passed with flying colors.  She doesn’t just endure it; she is kind to the people who hurt her.  Saying that Ella is weak makes it perfectly plain that you didn’t watch the movie.  Prince Kit wouldn’t have fallen for a weak, insipid little servant girl.  The whole point is that she might be treated like a servant, but that she is so much more than that.

Actually, Ella is more like a saint than the pathetic servant girl these haters would have you believe she is.  It is better to suffer an evil than commit an evil.  Ella never committed any evil, and she suffered through more than her fair share, but not because she was weak.  She wanted to stay, and probably thought that she might be able to convert her stepmother and sisters.  That wasn’t addressed in the movie, but it is an interesting question to ponder.

As a little girl, Ella promised her mother that she would “have courage, and be kind.”  That was exactly what she did in choosing to stay in that house.  She had courage when they were mean to her, and was kind to them, much more so than they deserved.  So, not only is she courageous and kind, she keeps her promises.  All of those things are admirable.

C S Lewis children and heroes

Also, never did Lady Tremaine or either of the stepsisters ever physically harm Ella, so your “abuse” scenario goes right out the window there.  Yes, they were mean.  Yes, they were emotionally abusive, but that doesn’t make Ella weak, and it most certainly doesn’t present the idea to kids that they would be obliged to endure the physical abuse of a real person.  Children being emotionally or physically abused is a different story, and has absolutely nothing to do with this movie.

Ella is an adult, and makes her own choices.  I think she made a good one.  She remained, endured, and as a result of her goodness, she got the prince in the end, not because he had to rescue her from the abuse, but because he saw the goodness in her and loved her for it.

The movie makes that perfectly clear: the prince fell in love with that “honest country girl,” not with a princess in a beautiful ball gown.  He loved her before her magical transformation, because she was a good person.  The fact that she showed up in a gorgeous dress and glass slippers was just icing on the cake.  It’s hard to believe that people are slamming the prince instead of admiring him for seeing past Ella’s rough exterior to the extraordinary person she was on the inside.

So, haters, look into my eye.

Lori look in my eye

Go take your “female empowerment” objections somewhere else, and leave the rest of us alone to enjoy a truly beautiful fairy tale, where good things happen to people who are good, and the bad guys get their comeuppance.