“When the creative team at the Walt Disney Studios began thinking about making a live-action fil of ‘Cinderella,’ their goals were both modest and grand. Everyone agreed that they wanted to retell the story in a way that preserved its classic elements and appeal. But they also wanted to make a beautiful moviethat would endure for decades, just as Walt’s animated version has.
” ‘Cinderella’ is one of the greatest stories ever told, but no one has ever done the definitive live-action version,’ explains Sean Bailey, president of production, Disney Studios. ‘Walt Disney’s would be considered the definitive animated fil, certainly. Sometimes our competitors make these movies, and that’s well and good, but we always think about how we can set the gold standard, the very best.
” ‘That approach turned on a lightbulb: we’ve got to make the movie that people say, ‘If you want to know the story of ‘Cinderella,’ this is the film to see,’ he continues. ‘We started developing the screenplay with a very talented writer named Christ Weitz. We got a wonderful director in Ken Branagh. The cast kind of came together from there.’
“Bailey’s modest remark that some elements ‘kind of came together’ covers months of work devoted to casting, development, and design. But everyone associated with Cinderella expresses the same enthsiasm and the same desire to make a fil that balances the essence of the classic fairy tale with a contemporary sensibility to create a warm, human film that will appeal to viewers of every age. [p. 111]
“Producer Alli Shearmur say, ‘Figuring out a way to build on the legacy of fairy tales at The Walt Disney Company was a high priority. They had a real desire to modernize the character of Cinderella without turning their back on the animated classic. Those were the basic priorities when I joined the project.
” ‘I’d worked as an executive at Disney in 1993096, but we weren’t pursuing this kind of movie then’ she continues. ‘Cinderella, in my opinion is the most classic of all the princess classics. Having a daughter of my own who’s now twelve, I’ve been through the princess chapter of her life. Cinderella has always been her favorite princess. They could never have anticipated what a giant honor the offer to work on Cinderella was for me.’
“As Shearmur’s comments suggest, Walt Disney’s Cinderella remains an important film not onlly in the history of animation, but in American popular culture. For decades, little girls have grown up wanting to look like Cinderella, dress like Cinderella, and share Cinderella’s adventures.
“Screenwriter Chris Weitz reflects, ‘I am a man. But I realized I had a chance to work on a film that would have a tremendous effect on generations of little girls who are going to see it. That’s a public trust. My wife, my sister-in-law, and every other woman I know has seen and been deeply, ddply affected by the animated Cinderella. I took that fact very serously and thought about it a lot.’
“Director KennethBranagh adds, ‘Disney wanted to readdress a story that was a central part of their DNA in the animated classic. They started by selecting the very talented Dante Ferretti and Sandy Powell as production designer and costume designer…. [p. 112]
” ‘Our North Sars, if you will,were to try and make the definitive Cinderella, and to make one of the most beautiful films the Studio has ever produced.’ Bailey concludes. ‘We want it to be for families and children, but this story is so powerful, we believe it can play across all generations.’ ” Solomon, A Wish Your Heart Makes, pgs. 111-113.