2015 Cinderella Is More Than A Girl Who Is Saved by A Prince – Cinderella Is Saved by Her Own Integrity and Inner Strength

234C82FE00000578-2841139-Cinder_Ella_In_the_film_the_Disney_princess_s_famous_name_is_act-64_1416414778547bIn recent years, critics have criticized the fairytale of Cinderella, saying that it is an unkind myth that teaches females that they themselves are weak and that they must hope for a “Prince” to save them.  The 2015 live-action film stresses that Cinderella is saved by her own integrity and her own inner strength.  She is not a victim.

“Branagh presented a clear vision of the qualities the actress playing Cinderella would have to express and embody.

” ‘Cinderella has  a strong sense of humor and maturity.  She assumed people don’t necessarily evil,’ the director explains.  ‘She can turn the other cheek.  She can find things funny.  She can be happy with her surroundings.


‘She knows how to enjoy a sunny day without seeming like a simpering or precious individual.  She is at ease with herself, and has a full sense of her own identity.  She’s interested in other people and is naturally generous and unselfish. [p. 120]

‘These things are presented as expressions of strength, not weakness,’ continues Branagh.  ‘We do indeed have her stand up to the stepmother: as in modern life, one might reasonably expect someone to eventually stand up to those who have done them wrong.  We see her use her intelligence.  We see her forgive.  We present Cinderella as a distinctly strong individual whose spirit and maturity is her easy power.  She is not a helpless or self-pitying victim.  She is a very present, very positive, spiritual individual.’

” ‘Clearly, the role would be a complex, challenging one for any actress, let alone one young enough to be a credible Cinderella,’ Shearmur says, ‘There were so many boxes that neede to be checked:  a purity, a goodness, an innocence.  Someone you believe hasn’t yet falllen in love.  Someone capable of tremendous compassion.  A beauty, but a real beauty.  In our process of finding Cinderella, we met with many different sorts of women, not just ones defined by the classic image of Cinderella in the animated classic.  We were very interested in somebody who looked and felt like a real person.’

“After discussing the performances and potential of numerous ingenues, the filmmakers chose Lily James, A British actess known for her role as the rebellious and scandalously modern Lady Rose MacClare on the popular miniseries Downton Abbey.

James, who found the proospect of playing Cinderella [p.121] both frightening and exciting, reflects, ‘Everyone has a vision of Cinderella, whether it’s from the animated or live-action films or storybooks.  You’ve got a big act to follow.  It’s very scary.  I did yoga to try to get the posture and grace, the elegance that Cinderella has.  I watched every Disney movie involving a princess, and Cinderella loads of times.  But at a certain point, you have to let go of the animation and embody it your own way.’


“Turning to the complicated relationship her character shares with the stepsisters, James continues, ‘I don’t think that Cinderella actually dislikes the sisters; she doesn’t understand them, and I think she pities them.  She sees they’re unhappy, selfish human beings.  She also finds them funny.  But there’s certainly pain involved.  She hates them at times, but she struggles with her feelings.  She’s got strength.’

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“Halfway throughfilming, James still hadn’t fully absorbed her fairytale reality.  ‘Obviously every girl wants to be a princess, but to be a Disney Princess and Cinderella feels like it’s too much to believe,’ she sommented.  ‘It’s a dream role, because she’s so specia, and kind, and unique.’

“Shearmur adds, ‘As a woman and the mother of a daughter, I think it’s fantastic that she’s a strong female character.  Just because she’s kind and dood doesn’t make her weak.  It makes her stronger.  She believes in her herself and in the goodness of the world around her, and that allows her to succeed.  We [p. 122] remember the legacy of the animated film, which people love.  But more of the consideration was how do me not make this a story where a girl gets rescued by a guy who thinks she’s pretty, so she gets married and has a big house and allthese great things.  The strength of the character is why I believe the story keeps being told.’ ” Solomon, A Wish Your Heart Makes, pgs. 120-122, 124]

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Cinderella 2015 Official Movie Trailers


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New York Times Review 2015 Cinderella Old Fashioned Charm


New York Times – March 9, 2015

In this age of revisionist, modernized Disney fairytales, where we’ve learned that some of our favorite characters really aren’t what they seemed, the striking thing about the studio’s sumptuous new live-action “Cinderella” may not be what it is, but what it isn’t.

It isn’t revisionist. It isn’t modernized. The good guys are still good, the bad still bad. Prince Charming? Still VERY charming, not a “Frozen”-style cad. And the evil stepmother? She’s not, like Angelina Jolie’s Maleficent, merely misunderstood; As embodied by Cate Blanchett, she remains evil to the core. (Though it must be said: Evil has never looked quite so fabulous.)

What “Cinderella” IS, though, is touching, visually stunning, and very satisfying. Director Kenneth Branagh, working with a high-wattage cast led by the winsome and genuine Lily James, sticks to tried-and-true narrative formula, and infuses it with wit and style. If the glass slipper ain’t broke, he seems to be saying, why fix it?


A prologue shows us Cinderella’s childhood, as a little girl named Ella — a lovely thing who’s kind to all, and has a way of communing with animals. She lives in a rambling country home with her loving parents (Hayley Atwell, Ben Chaplin), and all is perfect until, of course, Cinderella’s mother takes ill and dies.


It won’t be long before Dad, so sweet but so inexplicably clueless, will take up with the widowed Lady Tremaine , who arrives with her two dim-witted daughters and starts rearranging things.


We all know how bad things will get, but when Blanchett shows up with her raven hair, her chic ’40s-style glamour and the first of many jaw-dropping dresses (via masterful costume designer Sandy Powell), well, it’s hard not to secretly root for a villain with such stunning fashion sense.


But we digress. The story’s about Cinderella, as her mean stepsisters re-name Ella when they see her sweet face, dirtied by cinders. Already relegated to the attic, her life changes for good when her father dies, rendering her not only an orphan but a slave, too.


Out in the forest one day, Cinderella encounters a steed being chased by hunters. She admonishes the lead hunter — a young man called Kit — to be kind and spare the animal. Her logic and pluck charm Kit, who of course is Prince Charming (a ridiculously attractive, azure-eyed Richard Madden). This chance meeting is perhaps the most obvious detour that screenwriter Chris Weitz takes from the traditional tale.

Back at the palace, we see Kit struggling against his duty to marry for wealth and advantage. Desperate to see that country girl again, he opens the upcoming ball to all women in the kingdom. But Lady Tremaine, more sinister by the moment, forbids Cinderella to attend; she even rips the dress that the girl has lovingly resuscitated from her mother’s closet.


Natch, this is where Fairy Godmother turns up, in the campy, fun-loving personage of Helena Bonham Carter, who’s a bit rusty with the magic but ends up transforming a pink frock into an ice-blue confection fit for a princess, and a pumpkin into the most gorgeous gilded carriage you’ve ever seen. The goose becomes the chauffeur — “I can’t drive, I’m a goose!” he protests — and the crowning touch is, of course, the glass slippers. (“You’ll find they’re really comfortable,” Godmother notes, hilariously.)

Sneaks Cinderella Costumes



The palace ball is as sumptuous as any little girl could want (kudos to production designer Dante Ferretti), and Branagh makes the ending, that magical moment where the slipper fits, as suspenseful as it can be when we’ve all known the story our whole lives.

There IS a message here, and it may disappoint anyone looking for a new feminist heroine to emerge from the cinders. It’s about kindness and forgiveness, and sticking to your life ethos no matter what confronts you.

Hardly revolutionary. But somehow, like that glass slipper, it fits just right.

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New Yorker Says that the Lushness and the Color Distinguish 2015 Cinderella

Lily James and Cate Blanchett in Kenneth Branagh’s version of the fairy tale.

Text Credit:  Anthony Lane, New Yorker – March 16, 2015


The tone of the new “Cinderella” is set in an early scene, when the heroine’s mother declares, “I believe in everything.” O.K., here it is. For the next hundred minutes or more, we get the story straight, with no strings or second thoughts attached.



Cinderella (Lily James) is the child of a loving mother (Hayley Atwell) and an equally doting father (Ben Chaplin). They dwell in a meadow-girt house—a small and cloudless kingdom of their own—inside a larger kingdom that is smilingly ruled by an elderly monarch (Derek Jacobi), soon to be succeeded by his merry yet thoughtful son, Kit (Richard Madden).


Cinderella’s mother dies, very gently, and her place is taken by a stepmother (Cate Blanchett)


and her querulous daughters (Holliday Grainger and Sophie McShera).


Cinderella’s father dies, on a journey, leaving her to be bullied and put to work. When a ball is held at the royal palace, she is stopped from going by the stepmother, only to be rescued and reclothed by a fairy godmother (Helena Bonham Carter).


Onward we dance, to the ending that no spoiler can harm. The slipper is fashioned from glass, and it fits.

What are we to make of this? It is a Disney production, written by Chris Weitz and directed by Kenneth Branagh, and it’s all in live action, brocaded with special effects, and deeply in debt to the animated version of 1950. Indeed, there is barely a frame of Branagh’s film that would cause Uncle Walt to finger his mustache with disquiet. The effect is to erase any memory not just of DreamWorks’ “Shrek” franchise, where Pinocchio gags were tossed around like toys, but also of Disney’s own “Enchanted,” which held up the figures of legend, like the prince and the sugar-sweet maiden, as if in quotation marks. At a time when that deconstructive urge is the norm, and in an area of fiction—the fairy tale—that has been trampled by critical theory, Branagh has delivered a construction project so solid, so naïve, and so rigorously stripped of irony that it borders on the heroic. You could call it “Apocalypse Never.”

The principal source here is Charles Perrault, whose cluster of fairy stories, published in 1697, introduced the pumpkins and the godmother. With that love of transformative magic, he remains a patron saint of Disney—far more so than the Grimms, who gave us, in dripping detail, the stepsisters’ valiant efforts to make the slipper fit. (One of them amputated her toes; the other sliced off a chunk of her heel.) The father’s role, in many versions of the tale, was dismayingly dark, either compliant with the abuse of his child or tarred with incest. New Disney, on the other hand, follows old Disney by arranging for the father’s demise, and thus for the enshrining of his virtue, although I did catch the breath of something creepy in the closeups of Ben Chaplin’s fond and proprietary smirk.

So what will summon children to the film? Not, I suspect, the exalting of courage and kindness in Weitz’s screenplay, which will leave them feeling more badgered than convinced; or the animated short, “Frozen Fever,” that will be shown with “Cinderella,” and which struck me as sickly and confused. Rather, what crowns the movie, flourishing the fullness of its purpose, is color. When, with the ball afoot, our heroine’s gown is converted from a demure and serviceable pink to an empyrean blue, starred all over with crystals as if it were cut from the night sky, the girls in the movie theatre—fans of the full-length “Frozen,” I presume—will not only swoon but get the hint that Cinderella is now ready to be royal. You could try telling them that they are being drugged by sexist and imperialist archetypes that lost their potency decades, if not centuries, ago, but stand by to be strangled with your own Twizzlers. Some myths just will not go away.

The same is true of the tresses. Branagh’s coiffure, when he played Reinhard Heydrich, in “Conspiracy” (2001), was dyed to an Aryan lightness that made him frightening to behold, but, in the spectrum of fairy tales, that won’t wash. Even if you haven’t read Marina Warner’s “From the Beast to the Blonde” (a book that every legend-hunter should own), you can scarcely miss the favor that is routinely shown, by Perrault and his peers, to the flaxen-haired. Gentlemen prefer blondes, and they marry them. Life, like the complexion of villains, isn’t fair. That is why, in this latest “Cinderella,” no fewer than three brunettes—Lily James, Helena Bonham Carter, and Hayley Atwell—are kitted out with neck-ricking heaps of golden locks, while the one true blonde, Cate Blanchett, becomes a vulpine orange-red. As compensation for this old-school moral palette, the movie is granted a broader racial range; the king presides over a multi-ethnic land, and his son’s black sidekick (Nonso Anozie) proves crucial to uniting the lovers. Branagh is at ease with this equality, not making a big deal of it, just as his “Much Ado About Nothing” (1993) was improved and beautified by the presence of Denzel Washington, even if the film was a shade too sunny for that troubled play.

The production designer, on the new movie, is Dante Ferretti, a trusted collaborator of Scorsese and Fellini. (Forty years before “Cinderella,” he designed Pasolini’s “Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom.” It’s been a long journey.) You can gauge Ferretti’s influence not just in the lushness of the rooms but in the doorways that frequently frame the action; in leading our gaze from one room into the next, they kindle a quiet belief that we are not so much watching a story as glimpsing or overhearing it, much as it was told and retold through time. As for the costumes, I imagine that the Academy Award already has Sandy Powell’s name on it, and has been shoved in a drawer until she can swing by and pick it up next year. To date, she has ten nominations and three wins. One more won’t hurt.

The most telling shot in “Cinderella” is the first entrance of the stepmother, the train of whose outfit we gawk at, from behind, well before we see her face. (And even that is veiled.) The greens that Blanchett wears run from deep and rustling—suggesting that her character, however sophisticated, has emerged like a primitive legend from some Germanic forest—to an acidic lime sheen that would, we feel, be poisonous to the touch. Although her braying laugh is perhaps too vulgar a honk for an actress as sly as Blanchett, she atones for it with a delicious scene in which, on a private visit, she meets the Grand Duke (Stellan Skarsgård). He is the court’s resident bad apple, and the two of them have plans. “Are you threatening me?” he asks. “Yes,” she says, with the calmness of a seducer. Could they be entwined in anything more than the wish to thwart Cinderella? Let’s just say it was no surprise to learn, in the final voice-over, that the two of them quit the kingdom, and were never seen again. And they both lived hotly ever after.


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New York Times Compares 2015 to Downton Abbey


Text Credit:  Kathryn Shattuck, New York Times – March 5, 2015

Call it an ode to what might have been.

As Lady Rose Aldridge née MacClare, the ravishingly feisty Crawley cousin on “Downton Abbey,” Lily James might have appeared the embodiment of a spoiled-rotten stepsister when auditioning for Disney’s “Cinderella.”


And as Daisy Mason, the series’ scullery maid turned assistant cook and budding revolutionary, Sophie McShera might have seemed the ideal candidate for the orphan girl sentenced to cleaning fireplaces and scraping plates until being rescued by Prince Charming. (But not before rescuing him first.) Then Kenneth Branagh, the film’s director, heard Ms. James speak.

“I loved the quality of her voice,” he said in a phone interview from London. “I loved the warmth, tone and range in it. I found it very expressive.” He especially loved that, across the drawn-out process of auditioning and screen testing, “she kept her good humor and she kept her patience and she kept finding a playful quality that in itself seemed to me like a great harbinger of good fortune for the part.”


That’s when he dangled the Swarovski crystal slipper before Ms. James — and later cast Ms. McShera (who, alas, never got to try the Cinderella role on for size) as Drizella, one of the wicked stepmother’s demon spawn — setting their upstairs-downstairs-at-Downton dynamic on its head.

“It was an easier leap of the imagination for me to play an ugly stepsister than the princess,” Ms. James said, her lilting cadence on full display as she explained her initial reluctance to step into the title role of the film, which opens March 13. “I was actually really looking forward to playing the off-center part, to not having to watch how I look or what I say.

“I see it now as the right fit. And in the scenes where I’m tightening Sophie’s corset and cleaning her plate, I think she loved bossing someone around. There was a real sense of gratification that she finally had the upper hand.”

Ah, sweet revenge.

“This time I had all the gorgeous dresses, and I was the one who was speaking properly,” Ms. McShera said giddily, her Yorkshire accent thick. And for an actress whose regular job requires her to go cosmetic-free, save for a smear of fish mousse or turnip purée, the three hours it took to apply Drizella’s ginger ringlets and scarlet Cupid’s bow were a kind of movie-set Nirvana.

“We wore so much makeup,” she said, “that when I washed my face, I nearly didn’t recognize myself in the mirror.”

Harnessing the phenomenon that is “Downton Abbey,” which on Sunday wrapped its fifth season on PBS’s “Masterpiece,” might seem like savvy, even cynical casting.

“For all of their youth, the great bonus was their experience in ‘Downton’ as performers rather than the fact that they happen to be in a hit show,” Mr. Branagh countered. “These were young people who were coming to me having been in front of the camera a great deal. And I knew that these two girls were on a daily basis exposed to Maggie Smith and Penny Wilton and Elizabeth McGovern and Phyllis Logan, and that they had very strong examples of terrific acting” — experience that helped when performing alongside Cate Blanchett, as Cinderella’s stepmother-tormentor, and Helena Bonham Carter, as the fairy godmother. “They turned out to be very responsive as a result.”

Taking their cue from the Perrault folk tale and the 1950 animated Disney film, Mr. Branagh and the screenwriter Chris Weitz set out to conjure a contemporary heroine empowered by the conviction of her choices, however antiquated they might seem. (A 21st-century teenager who doesn’t rebel at being banished to an unheated attic, let alone forbidden to attend the prom? So not happening.)

As for “have courage and be kind,” the mantra that some have suggested reduces Cinderella to an anti-feminist milquetoast, Mr. Branagh likened it to the nonviolent resistance of Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi.

“I liked its simplicity,” he said. “It’s a challenging request to do something very simple, which is also very difficult.”

He added: “I’m proud that a sophisticated, intelligent and passionate girl emerges out of a classical framework where her empowerment is not at the price of becoming like a man. I think it celebrates her specific femaleness in a way that encourages people to be who they are, not necessarily in competition with the opposite gender or with an attempt to be what other people appear to wish them to be.”

Cinderella’s gentle qualities may not be as obviously superhuman as those of some other Disney princesses — say, Elsa’s cryokinetic powers in “Frozen” or the anti-aging qualities of Rapunzel’s hair in “Tangled” — “but I think her inner strength is something anyone can possess,” Ms. James said. “She’s not armed with swords or weapons to be strong. It’s from within, and any child can do that.

“And the journey she goes through at the end, where she realizes that the greatest risk is to be who you truly are — that’s something we all want to be. If only I could have that for myself.”

Their days of living in near anonymity, as both Ms. James and Ms. McShera once claimed to, are nearly over as Vogue and InStyle interviews, a licensing agreement with M.A.C. Cosmetics, and a luxury shoe collection are unfurled. BoxOffice.com recently estimated that “Cinderella,” to be introduced on screens by a new animated short based on “Frozen,” Disney’s 2013 blockbuster, will gross $68 million in ticket sales on its opening weekend in North America.

Then there are the towering billboards, and the requisite kerfuffle about whether Ms. James’s tiny waist was digitally whittled down even further. (She and Mr. Branagh insisted it was merely the magic of bone structure and corsetry.) “It’s incredible, seeing your face three-stories high,” Ms. McShera said. “That’s when you really get a sense of the enormity of the film.”

Sighing with what might have been delight — or was it trepidation? — Ms. James said: “No one recognizes me — ever — and now this. I see myself soaring above Sunset Boulevard and Times Square, and it’s just the weirdest thing.”


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2015 Live-Action Disney Cinderella Develops More Fully the Child Ella, Her Family, and the Prince


“Everyone involved in Cinderella was eager to retell the well-loved story.  But inevitably questions arose about how to present the fairy tale in a away that would appeal to modern audiences while retaining the elements that made it a favorite of generations of readers and filmgoers. [p. 113]

” ‘It’s not only the quintessential underdog story, it’s a story that says if you conduct yourself with kindness and dignity and courage in this world, you will be rewarded,’ says Bailey.  ‘If you are brave and generous in the midst of cruelty, ultimately there is a good end for you.  It’s tremendously affirming.  The story releases something very emotional inside most people.

” ‘I think a lot of us go through a lot of change inthe modern era, things are not as reliable as they once were,’ Bailey continues.  ‘Cinderella’ explores how to conduct yourself in times of tremendous adversity, so the story has resonance.  Revisiting the Disney movie and [Charles] Perrault, going back to the original sources, was very rewarding.  But we looked to Perrault more than the naimated picture.  We paid pretty good attendtion to the Disney picture, but we said if we’re going to do the definitive version we need to go back to Walt’s source.’

“Although the story retains a relevance for contemporary audiences, society has undergone enormous changes since Perrault gave the tale its definitive form in 1697.  A young woman who was perceived as dutiful and obedient in the late seventeenth century might strike twentypfirst-century viewers as a subservient doormat.  But if the heroine abandoned her chores to take up the sword and fight injustice, no one would accept (or recognize) her as Cinderella.

” ‘The version of “Cinderella’ we’re doing is not revisionist,’ states Weitz.  ‘She doesn’t learn kung fu.  She doesn’t start her own business.  She does what the character did in the fairy tale.  If you’re not careful, that character can seem submissive to a modern audience that’s used to a different kind of heroine.  The question was how to embody what we though was great and beautiful about the story and the heroine.  For us it was a trememndous sense of purpose and honor and fortitude that you don’t see much in heroies these days.

” ‘For a modern audience, it’s very hard to figure out why Cinderella doesn’t run away and go to social services or something like that,’ he adds.  ‘She satys in what we would think of as an abusive parental relationship.  But she has a tremendous sense of duty and honor and keeping her promise hto her parents that prevails.’

” ‘The reason this story is told again and agin is ecause the character is defined by her kindness and goodness and generosity towards others; she doesn’t have to change those values to have her life work out in ways far better than she ever imagined,’ agrees Shearmur.  ‘She can still be who she is, even though she’s tested by cruelty and unkindness.  I think we all like to  [p. 114] believe that goodness and kindness will win out at the end of the day.  This story allows our protagonist to be treated and emergy the same pure, kind soul she was from the beginning.’

“As Bill Peet noted sixty-odd years earlier, when he was at work on the story for the animated feature, the audience knows how Cinderella will end befoe they walk into the theater.  The trick is to tell the sotry in a way that’s so engaging,the viewers forget they know the outcome and worry about the heroine’s fate. ‘

cinderellachild Ella with her mother



“The filmmakers added a prologue depicting Cinderella’s happy childhood with her father and mother.  Her mother dies when the girl is seven.  On her deathbed, she asks Ella to promise she will have courage and be kind.  Cinderella keeps that promise, even when her life darkens, first with the arrival of her stepmother and stepsisters, and then after the death of her father.


” ‘On her deathbed, her mother says to Ella, promise me that you’ll have courage and you’ll be kind, and you’ll be able to survive life without me.  Ella lives by that promise,’ says Lily James, who plays Cinderella.  ‘The father brings in a wife who’s not wicked, but who’s been battered by life.  She needs to be supported.  Ella’s gooodness versus her bitterness means that she begins to treat her like a servant.  When Ella’s father goes off on his travels, the stepmother can’t cope with her goodness, so she abuses her.’ [. 115]

“Cinderella’s virtue and strength give her an independence and an autonomy that became central to the story.  As Shearmur explains, ‘Something that Ken always talked about that was very importat to us is Cinderella would be fine if the prince found her.  A major consideration was, ‘How do we not make this a story where a girl gets rescued by a guy?’


” ‘To fulfill this vision of ‘Cinderella,’ the artists had to expand the role of Prince Charming, who has traditionally been little more than a cipher.


” ‘In the animated film, he represented an ideal and the realization of a dream, but he wasn’t imbued with much personality. This prince had to have more depth and complexity or this Cinderela wouldn’t be interested in him.


” ‘ “Cinderella” is an inredible love story.  We know from the original that the princes becomes so enamored of her, he’s determined o find her,’ says Bailey.  ‘We had a lot of fun sitting around saying, “So what were the obstacles in his way?”  Om amu great love story, both sides have tremondous obstacles to [p. 116] overcome in order to be together.  It was really interesting to bring dimensions to the prince who had traditionally been a one-dimensional chaacter.’ …


” ‘We give our prince the sense of a man who has been in the wars, who knows in a very personal and meaningful way the cost of war,’ says Branagh.  ‘He’s less shinily innocent than princes have been in the past.  We give him pholosophical and political positions about how a country is ruled.  He’s surrounded by people who suggest that countries are ruled effectively by having wars, claiming other coutries, and uniting kingdoms.  He finds in Cinderella a kinded spirit who believes that the important thing is not to go to war with your fellow man, but to have courage, to be kind and generous, and, where possible, to turn the other cheek to see that as strength, not weakness.’ ” Solomon, A Wish Your Heart Makes, pgs. 111-116. 120]

Posted in 2015 Live-Action Film, A Wish Your Heart Makes Charles Solomon, Charles Perrault, Cinderella Is A Timeless Tale, Designs for 2015 Cinderella, E;lla as a Child, Prince Charming, Stepmother, Stepsisters | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cinderella’s 2015 Ball Gown – A Sandy Powell Sensation

cinderella (1)


 Sandy Powell

Text Credit:  Jonathan Olley

• One ball gown took 20 people a total of 500 hours to make.

• Cinderella’s slippers were created through movie magic.

• Wings ended up being a major sticking point with the Fairy Godmother’s costume.


The Fairy Godmother gets all the credit for turning Cinderella into the magically dressed belle of the ball in the new live action film, but it’s actually Sandy Powell who deserves the recognition. The three-time Oscar winner designed all of the clothing, from the hypnotic blue ball gown to the shimmering epaulets on the Prince’s uniform.

Powell’s role is to help bring the story to life — in “Cinderella” that meant a major part of the story was told with the costumes that the mistreated stepdaughter wears.

Cinderella only wears four costumes in the film, but each is as distinct as the next. Nothing compares to her blue ball gown, which is featured in almost every advertisement for the movie.

Powell blended a variety of hand-painted layers of fabric in different hues to create the blue color.

“The dress is made up of six layers of very fine fabric. The top level is a very expensive silk, while the others are a polyester. But the material is so light if you throw a piece of it up in the air, it just floats down really slowly,” Powell says.

Each layer is hand-painted a different shade of blue, green, lavender, lilac and white. Powell wanted the dress to have the soft hues associated with water color paintings.

The most important thing about the dress was the movement. Powell knew the dress would look wonderful when actress Lily James twirled it around the ballroom floor. She was more interested in the way it would look when Cinderella makes her mad sprint to the carriage as the clock strikes midnight.

“I wanted it to float behind her and around her and have a life all of its own,” Powell says.

Creating the look was time consuming: One ball gown took 20 people a total of 500 hours to complete.

Tight fit

For James, wearing Cinderella’s gown also meant putting on a corset.

Powell is very particular when creating designs that the under garments are as close to authentic as possible.

“I want to dispel the myth that corsets are uncomfortable,” Powell says. “Corsets are uncomfortable if they are made badly or if they don’t fit right. If they are made to fit properly, your squeezey bits — like your waist — get pulled in properly and it shouldn’t push on your rib cage. All that it does is that it makes you aware of your posture.”

It took about 20 minutes to get James into the costume, including lacing up the corset.

The corset didn’t hurt James, but there was a side effect Powell hadn’t anticipated. Richard Madden, who plays the Prince, noticed during dance scenes with Cinderella that if James ate anything while in the corset she would have some pain. They would have to stop so it could be loosened.

Glass slippers

The long ball gown served another purpose, too.

James was able to wear comfortable running shoes because the gown covered her feet completely. She never wore the glass slippers that prove so important to the tale.

Powell designed the slippers based on an 1890s shoe she saw in a museum. The 5-inch heels gave the shoes a modern look that was still suitable for the fairytale. She had casts made of the shoes, which were sent to a company that created the slippers out of cut crystal.

The shoe is made up of three pieces of crystal fastened together. The shoe was only used as a prop. Scenes that show the slippers were added via computers after the filming was completed.

When asked about the cut crystal shoes, James smiles and says they didn’t fit her feet. She immediately realizes that she’s ruined the fairytale ending and adds, the shoe wouldn’t fit anyone’s foot.

Color schemes

Powell spent a year working on the movie’s costumes.

The process started with buying a variety of fabrics that she cut into small pieces and placed together to see how the colors compliment each other. She opted to go with a 19th century look, especially when designing the military look for the Prince.

“This is a very attractive period for men compared to 18th century, which is more flamboyant and flowery. This is quite masculine and elegant,” Powell says. “I did make the trousers a little tighter than they would be.”

Powell’s design knowledge comes from years of experience. The London native first worked on the TV movie “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Since then she’s designed costumes for both modern (“The Crying Game”) and period (“Shakespeare in Love”) stories and has worked on “The Wolf of Wall Street,” “The Tempest,” “The Young Victoria” and “Mrs. Henderson Presents.”

She says period costumes are far easier since everyone has an opinion about the way modern clothes should look. Period films mean Powell has to create every item of clothing to find the right look.

Waiting in the wings

Most of her work for “Cinderella” went as Powell planned — except for a small issue with the Fairy Godmother design. Helena Bonham Carter would only play the role if the character had wings.

Bonham Carter had to put up with a lot for the costume to work. Her dress is filled with lights and batteries to make her shine. That’s why Powell was finally willing to add a small pair of wings to her look.

Director Kenneth Branagh says Bonham Carter joked that every day there was a man to turn her on.

Powell also created the costumes that Cate Blanchett slinks around in as the scheming stepmother. She went with a lot of greens.

“I like green and it suits her,” Powell says. “She does wear other colors, but they’re all kind of cool gem colors. She also wears a lot of black. I didn’t want her all in black but a mix of black and strong colors that would work with that.”

Creating costumes is a long and complicated process. Powell’s advice to those who want to follow a similar career: Work hard, never give up and “follow your dreams.”

And as Cinderella can tell you, “a dream is a wish your heart makes.”

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