Cinderella: Kenneth Branagh’s Take on Disney’s Classic

In Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella, Ella, played by the fresh-faced Lily James, is a beautiful young woman whose idyllic life crashes down when her merchant Father (Ben Chaplin) remarries after the tragic death of her Mother (Hayley Atwell).

Eager to support her loving father, Ella welcomes her new Stepmother (Cate Blanchett) and her daughters, Anastasia (Holliday Grainger) and Drisella (Sophie McShera), into the family home.  When Ella’s father unexpectedly passes away, she finds herself at the mercy of a jealous and cruel new family.

Indeed, she is forced to become their servant, disrespected, covered in ashes and spitefully renamed Cinderella. Yet, despite the cruelty inflicted upon her, Ella doesn’t despair or despise those who mistreat her. She continues to remain positive, determined to honor her mother’s dying words to “have courage and be kind.”

When Ella meets a dashing stranger in the woods, unaware that he is really the Prince (Richard Madden) and not just Kit, an apprentice at the palace, she believes she has finally found a kindred soul.  Her fate is about to change when the King (Derek Jacobi) summons all maidens in the kingdom to attend a royal ball at the palace, raising Ella’s hopes of again encountering the charming Kit.  But her Stepmother forbids her to go and callously destroys her dress.

Meanwhile, the calculating Grand Duke (Stellan Skarsgård) devises a plan to thwart the Prince’s hopes of reuniting with Ella and enlists the support of the devious Stepmother.  But, as in all good fairy tales, help is at hand.  A kind beggar woman (Helena Bonham Carter) steps forward and, armed with a pumpkin, a few mice and a magic wand, changes Cinderella’s life forever.

A live-action feature inspired by the classic fairy tale, Disney’s “Cinderella” brings to life the beloved characters and timeless images from the studio’s 1950 animated masterpiece in a visually-dazzling spectacle for a new generation.  Kenneth Branagh is one of a versatile filmmaker, equally adept with the works of William Shakespeare as he is with Tom Clancy or a superhero from a Marvel comic book.

Branagh is also an award-winning actor, writer and producer, and in 2011, his performance as Sir Laurence Olivier in “My Week With Marilyn,” earned Branagh his fifth Academy Award nomination.