What Disney Can Learn from Cinderella

What Disney Can Learn from Cinderella

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I finally got the chance to see Cinderella. First and foremost, it was thoroughly enjoyable. It didn’t blow my socks off, but it was well worth the cost of my ticket. Particularly the visuals and the overall aesthetic of the film. The best way to describe it is that it felt like the animated classic had been brought to life. Especially the bibbidi bobbidi boo dress transformation. Every actor was perfectly cast and all around this was a solid film.

However, everything about this film was totally expected. At no point was I on the edge of my seat nor was I curious about how it might end. Going into the film I knew this. I knew that it was going to be a pretty straight retelling, but that is exactly why it shouldn’t have been. Disney had a story that everybody knew and could probably recite from memory. So why give the audience what they expected?

Not that they needed to change any of the major plot points, they could have simply given the audience a twist. Think about the true love twist in Frozen or the true love’s kiss twist in Maleficent. They were small things that completely changed the meaning of the film. Especially when they turned Maleficent into the hero of the story and the king into the villain. The story largely stays the same and yet the meaning changes on a fundamental level.

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The easiest way that Disney could have done this is answer some of the questions that are left unanswered by the original film. The biggest of which is why Lady Tremaine is so mean to Cinderella. The movie plays it off as if she is hurt by the fact that Cinderella’s father didn’t marry Tremaine for love and that it appears he has a closer relationship with Cinderella than Tremaine or her daughters. Yet, it appears to be the exact opposite. Cinderella’s father marries Tremaine because he feels that he can be truly happy with her like he was with his wife. Not too mention that initially it will take time to build up the relationship with his new step-daughters. If anything she married just that she wouldn’t be out on the street. That gives a basis for why she is so grumpy but not why she essentially turns Cinderella into a slave.

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I assume Disney expects us to chalk this up to the old fairy tale trope that evil is evil and that’s that. Except for the fact that so far, these live action adaptations have been giving the villains reasons. We already talked about Maleficent but even The Great and Powerful Oz, not live-action animation adaptation I know, gave us reasons why the witches were wicked. Why does Lady Tremaine not get a tragic back story? The film itself was nearly two hours and with an extra 8-10 minutes we could have gotten what we needed. Heck you cut it down to even more if you just change her monologue a little bit.

What if instead of Lady Tremaine marrying the one she loves and then losing him, she never got her happy ending. It would explain Tremaine would be so set on ruining Cinderella’s positive outlook and it gives her a little more motivation for ruining her chances with the Prince. After all, if Tremaine couldn’t get her happy ending why should Cinderella? Going forward, I hope Disney has tries to answer those unanswered questions from their animated classics.

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Looking forward at Beauty and the Beast they could add some more depth to their characters all around. While Gaston could still be presented largely as just an atypical jerk, Disney could explain why the townsfolk are still so supportive of him. Maybe he is just a bully and at one point the townsfolk kind of realize. So to regain some of his popularity, he leads the town against the Beast. As for Beast, they could explain what happened to his parents and most importantly, they could fix the inherent timeline problems. Beast has to find true love by his 21st birthday. At one point is he turned into a Beast where he wouldn’t have learned how to read? Was he like 8 or something? Not too mention that it seems like it takes about a day to get to this castle and yet the townsfolk are completely unaware of a giant beast living their? All I am saying, is that Disney has the potential to improve upon their animated classic.

So far their casting is on point. With Emma Watson (Belle), Luke Evans (Gaston), Dan Stevens (Beast), Emma Thompson (Mrs. Potts), Josh Gad (Le Fou), and Kevin Kline (Maurice) as just the beginning, the cast is shaping up really well. Lets just hope they do the same with the story.

Peter Orrestad - Apr 2, 2015 | Film Thoughts

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