The 2015 film Cinderella is easy on the eyes. Cinderella has lots of agreeable, satisfying splashes of color and lovely costumes that are exaggerated about two notches above actual Victorian era dress without being ridiculous. Cate Blanchett’s entrance as Cinderella’s evil stepmother alone, resplendent in black and venomous green with an ebony lace hat like a cobra hood, is worth watching the movie.
I like the 2015 Cinderella, however I do ache a bit for how almost obnoxiously anti-feminist the whole message of the movie is. The main character of Cinderella is bizarrely passive. She is counseled by her dying mother to be “kind” and patient. Be patient, be kind, be unbelievably limp and be beautiful and…. that’s it. That’s the message for girls. Just wait and do absolutely nothing and all the adults will take care of things for you.
I mean, hell, even the 1950 animated Disney Cinderella was more pro-active than the 2015 Cinderella. At least the 1950 Cinderella was able to cultivate a small kingdom of clothed talking mice within the walls of her stepmother’s vast manor house.
And the Disney 1997 Rodgers and Hammerstein Cinderella drove home the virtue of being self-motivated with a hammer. “If you want to go to the ball Cinderella, then go,” Cinderella’s fairy godmother (Whitney Houston) tells Cinderella (Brandy), “The only thing that’s stopping you is you.”
This empowering message in the 1997 version Cinderella is a far cry from the message in 2015 Cinderella. It was as if the 2015 Cinderella was gearing up for the 2016 election and the subsequent post-Roe, anti-feminist, “What is a woman?” era.
The Cinderella in Kenneth Branagh’s 2015 Cinderella is so unbelievably inert that she could be a noble gas. She floats like helium, sings “Dilly Dilly” and waits for others to do everything for her.
My heart aches for how weak the character of Cinderella is in the 2015 Disney Cinderella. My soul aches. And most of all, my ribs ache.
Yeah, you read that right. Watching the 2015 Cinderella makes my ribs ache.
On top of being unbelievably passive Lily James’ Cinderella has a freakishly small waist. Like, unnaturally slim. Cinderella’s waist is so small that it is literally smaller than the circumference of her head. And no, I’m not kidding. Look at the pictures.
Indeed when Cinderella first came out in 2015 most people believed Lily James’ waist had been CGI-d down to unnatural slimness. A lot of people were understandably upset at the body proportions director Kenneth Branagh was presenting to his young female audience. Branagh straight-up lied about how Lily James’ waist wasn’t really THAT thin and it was all an optical illusion.
“To all the airbrush conspiracy theorists I can answer now: no,” Branagh said in a new interview with HuffPost Live. “The simple truth is, we didn’t alter anything. In fact, it partly seems a little bit more extreme because it’s shadowed … the lit part feels very narrow, and it’s a bit wider on the top.”
“It’s not a mystery — if you put someone in a corset, you’ll see also that there’s a wide [part],” the British filmmaker added. “Not that Lily James isn’t slim. But, in that wide bow of the dress underneath, basically you squeeze things in, things come out at the bottom. It all gets hidden under there. The natural body physics of it aren’t insane.”
Lol, yeah, sure Branagh.
Honestly though, if it were all an illusion, why was your ex Helena Bonham Carter, who played the fairy godmother, able to appear in a corseted gown without looking like she’s about to snap in two?
Plus Lily James sort of blew up Branagh’s “Oh it just looks extreme because it’s shadowed” lies when she described the physical hardships she had to go through to fit into the hideous corset she wore in Cinderella.
“When [the corset] was on we would be on continuous days so we wouldn’t stop for lunch or a lovely tea like this — you’d be sort of eating on the move. In that case, I couldn’t untie the corset. So if you ate food it didn’t really digest properly and I’d be burping all afternoon … and it was just really sort of unpleasant … I’d have soup, so that I could still eat but it wouldn’t get stuck.”
James was also being a bit delicate when she said she had to stick to soups and a liquid diet because of the corset. The corset was so confining that she literally couldn’t bend at the waist and thus couldn’t sit to have a bowel movement during the 12-hour filming days. When James needed to urinate, she had to continue standing while using a “porta-lou” under her skirt.
Branagh’s 2015 Cinderella is visually stunning but its message towards young girls extolling the virtues of complete passivity and bruised ribs is poisonous. To paraphrase a quote from the film, Cinderella is every bit as ugly within as it is fair without.