Cinderella is a 2015 American live-action romantic fantasy film directed by Kenneth Branagh, and distributed by Walt Disney Pictures. The film is an adaptation of the fairy tale Cendrillon by Charles Perrault. Although not a remake, it borrows many elements from the 1950 animated film of the same name. It stars Lily James and Cate Blanchett as the titular character and the evil stepmother Lady Tremaine respectively. The film was released on March 13, 2015 and is theatrically accompanied by the short film Frozen Fever.
Ella (Eloise Webb) lives with her wealthy parents on a beautiful estate in a peaceful kingdom. From a young age, she is taught by her mother (Hayley Atwell) to believe in the existence of magic, allowing her to befriend many animals on the estate, particularly the mice. Everything is perfect until her mother contracts an illness and dies. On her deathbed, she makes Ella promise that she will always have courage and show kindness to others. Years later, when Ella (Lily James) is a teenager, her father (Ben Chaplin) marries Lady Tremaine (Cate Blanchett), the widow of an old acquaintance, who has two daughters of her own, Drisella (Sophie McShera) and Anastasia (Holliday Grainger). Ella welcomes her stepfamily warmly, despite the stepsisters' unpleasant attitudes and her needing to protect her mouse friends from her stepmother's cat, Lucifer.
Soon after, Ella's father goes abroad on business, promising his stepdaughters gifts of luxury. His own daughter merely asks for the first branch that brushes against his shoulder on the way. Sadly, he becomes ill and also dies. This new loss results in Lady Tremaine revealing her true cold, cruel, and jealous nature. Taking advantage of Ella's hospitality, she persuades her to give up her room for Drisella and Anastasia, presumably temporarily, while Ella retires to the attic with only her mouse friends to keep her company. Not long after her father's death, Lady Tremaine dismisses the servants, leaving only Ella to do their work. Relegated to nothing more than a servant, she is subjected to cruel mistreatment by her stepmother and stepsisters. She is forbidden to eat with them, and spitefully renamed "Cinderella" after waking covered with soot from the fireplace.
Crushed by their cruelty, Ella goes for a ride into the woods, where she encounters a hunting party. She meets one of the hunters (Richard Madden), who claims to be an apprentice named Kit who lives in the palace. Unknown to her, he is actually the only son of the land's dying king (Derek Jacobi). Despite never learning her name, Kit (a nickname given to him by his father) is enchanted by Ella's charm, kindness, and unique outlook on life and becomes infatuated with her. Upon learning that he has little time left, the King insists that Kit finds a bride at an upcoming ball. Despite the law saying that he must marry a princess, Kit can't get over the mystery girl, and deals with his father into letting every eligible maiden in the land attend.
When the ball is announced, the Tremaine family is ecstatic at the prospect of marrying into royalty. However, when Lady Tremaine refuses to buy Ella a new dress, Ella fixes up an old dress of her mother's with help from the mice. On the night of the ball, Ella tries to join her stepfamily on the way out. But Lady Tremaine, claiming that her mere presence will disgrace them, leads her daughters into ripping up the dress before leaving without her. This seemingly breaks Ella's spirit, and she runs into the garden in tears. She encounters an old beggar woman, who reveals herself to be her Fairy Godmother (Helena Bonham Carter). She subsequently turns a pumpkin into a magnificent carriage, four mice into horses, two lizards into footmen, and a goose into a coachman. She then transforms Ella's dress into a gorgeous blue gown, complete with a delicate pair of glass slippers before sending her on her way with the warning that the spell only lasts until midnight.
At the ball, the entire court is entranced by Ella, especially Kit. She wins the coveted first dance with him, whose true identity she's pleasantly surprised to learn. This irritates the Grand Duke (Stellan Skarsgård), who secretly promised Kit to a princess — a fact that Lady Tremaine overhears. After dancing, Ella and Kit tour the palace and grounds together, slowly falling in love. But before he can learn her name, the clock strikes 11:59, forcing her to flee and accidentally dropping one of her glass slippers at the palace stairs in the process. She manages to get away before the stroke of midnight and hides the other slipper in her room as a memento.
Soon after, the King dies, but not before giving his son permission to find his true love. Once it's announced that every maiden in the kingdom is to try on the slipper, Ella excitedly goes to her room to get the other slipper, only to find her stepmother waiting for her with it in her hand. Lady Tremaine, having figured out her identity from her attitude after the ball, demands that Ella make her the head of the royal household once she becomes queen. She also demands that Ella ensure Drisella and Anastasia get proper husbands as well. Ella refuses, admitting that she regrets not protecting her father, but that she would protect the Prince no matter what becomes of her, Lady Tremaine smashes the slipper against the wall and locks her in the attic. She then brings the shattered shoe and the identity of the mystery girl to the Grand Duke, and strikes a deal with him in exchange, which would reward her with title of a countess and worthy husbands for her daughters. The Duke takes the shattered shoe to Kit, hoping to convince him to forget the mystery girl, but this makes him even more determined than ever to find his true love.
The Grand Duke and the captain of the guards (Nonso Anozie) lead a garrison to try the remaining slipper on all the maidens in the land, all of whom are rejected by its magic, before arriving at the Tremaine estate. When the slipper rejects both stepsisters, they turn to leave, only to hear Ella singing ("Lavender's Blue"), thanks to the mice opening her attic window. The Grand Duke tries to leave anyway, but one of the men reveals himself to be Kit in disguise, and demands that the captain investigate the sound. Once Ella is found, Lady Tremaine tries to forbid her from trying on the shoe, but is overruled by the Captain, who defends her. Ella curtly tells Lady Tremaine that she is not and never will be her mother before leaving the attic. She and Kit are finally reunited. Sure enough, the slipper fits perfectly and the stepsisters both plead for forgiveness. Ella graciously forgives her stepmother and leaves with Kit. Lady Tremaine later departs the kingdom with her daughters and the Grand Duke.
At their wedding, Kit and Ella are crowned as the new king and queen. The Fairy Godmother narrates that they become the land's most beloved monarchs, ruling with the courage and kindness Ella has promised her mother, and they lived happily ever after.
- Lily James as Ella/Cinderella
- Eloise Webb as young Ella/Cinderella
- Richard Madden as Kit
- Cate Blanchett as Lady Tremaine
- Helena Bonham Carter as the Fairy Godmother
- Stellan Skarsgård as the Grand Duke
- Nonso Anozie as the Captain
- Holliday Grainger as Anastasia Tremaine
- Sophie McShera as Drisella Tremaine
- Derek Jacobi as the King
- Hayley Atwell as Cinderella's Mother
- Ben Chaplin as Cinderella's Father
- Jana Perez as Princess Chelina of Zaragosa
- Rob Brydon as Master Phineus
- Gerard Horan as Lord Veneering
- Alex MacQueen as Town Crier
After the success of Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, Disney began developing a new adaptation of Cinderella in May 2010. Director Mark Romanek was initially going to direct the movie, however, he dropped out on January 9, 2013 due to creative differences. On February 1, 2013, Kenneth Branagh (Thor) stepped in as the new director. The screenplay is co-written by Aline Brosh McKenna (The Devil Wears Prada) and Chris Weitz (The Twilight Saga: New Moon) and stars Academy Award winner Cate Blanchett as Lady Tremaine.
The role of Cinderella was originally offered to former Harry Potter star, Emma Watson, but she eventually dropped out due to her commitment to another fairy tale project, Beauty and the Beast with Bill Condon directing it. After Watson left, other actresses such as Saoirse Ronan, Alicia Vikander, Gabriella Wilde, Imogen Poots, Bella Heathcote, Margot Robbie, and Lily James were all considered for the role. Ultimately, the role was given to the latter actress from Downtown Abbey on April 30, 2013.
On May 8, 2013, it was announced that Game of Thrones star Richard Madden was cast as Prince Charming. In June 2013, Holliday Grainger and Sophie McShera joined the film as Anastasia and Drisella. Later that month, Helena Bonham Carter was cast as the Fairy Godmother. On July 8, 2013 it was announced that Stellan Skarsgård was in talks for the role of the Grand Duke. On August 19, 2013, Hayley Atwell revealed that she would be playing Cinderella's biological mother who dies when Cinderella is five years old.
The first teaser trailer was attached to screenings of Maleficent.
Differences from the 1950 film
- Lady Tremaine and Cinderella's father aren't married until Cinderella, Anastasia and Drisella are fully grown women in this film, but in the animation film, her father meets the stepmother when Cinderella and her stepsisters are little girls.
- In the animated film, Anastasia and Drizella destroyed Cinderella's dress because they see their belongings sewed onto the dress. In the live-action film, Lady Tremaine and Drisella tear the dress because they don't want Cinderella to attend the ball on the reasons that her dress would be insulting in the presence of the King and those who are attending the ball as well causing humiliation on the part of the Tremaine family.
- In this film, Cinderella had house servants before she became the sole house maid.
- Lucifer, Jaq and Gus all have significantly reduced roles in this version.
- Jaq and Gus are silent characters in this film.
- Bruno doesn't appear in this version.
- Jaq is female in this version instead of male, and is also Gus's love interest.
- Unlike in the original, Cinderella's mice friends are only four.
- The Fairy Godmother's appearance is different from the animated film. This time, she appears to be rather young and wears a white-and-silver dress with a pair of fairy wings rather than a blue cloak. However, she appears as an old hag before she transformed into a young, beautiful woman.
- Cinderella's dress is blue instead of silver. This is probably to reference the current color of Cinderella's ballgown in merchandising.
- The Grand Duke is an antagonist in this version. He was good in the original version of the movie.
- The Herald doesn't appear in this film. The Captain instead replaces him in this version while some of his roles were taken over by the Town Crier.
- Lucifer is gray instead of black.
- The King dies from an illness in the climax while in the original he remains to be alive even in the ending in which Cinderella and the Prince gets married.
- Lady Tremaine broke the Glass Slipper in this version. In the original, she tripped the Herald to get the glass slipper broken. In Cinderella III: A Twist in Time, Lady Tremaine drops the slipper and it broke on the ground.
- Lady Tremaine was forced to set Cinderella free by the Captain of the Guards. In the original, Jaq and Gus set her free.
- Cinderella was originally nicknamed Ella in this version. She was called "Cinderella" by her step family when she woke up one morning with her face coated in soot. In the original film, it was presumed that Cinderella was her actual name.
- Unlike the original film, this was not a musical. Although it featured Ella singing her mother's lullaby, "Lavender's Blue", and the 2015 cast singing the songs from the original during the credits.
Trailers and Clips
- The lead role was offered to Emma Watson but she declined. She was later cast as Belle in Disney's live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast.
- This adaptation was in production following on from the success of the 2010 adaptation of Alice in Wonderland. Coincidentally, both featured Helena Bonham Carter (who portrayed the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland).
- Also coincidentally, both of Bonham Carter's roles in these two remakes were voiced by Verna Felton in the original animated versions.
- This is the second of many live-action adaptations of classic Disney animated films released during the 21st century, following Maleficent (Pete's Dragon doesn't count as it is considered an adaptation of a live-action movie).
- Actors Richard Madden who played the prince and Nonso Anozie who played the Captain, both worked on HBO's Game of Thrones, but their characters never interact. This is because Madden's character was killed in Season 3 of the show, and Anozie's character first appeared in Season 5.
- Actresses Lily James, who played Ella, and Sophie McShera, who played Drisella, previously worked together in the drama series Downton Abbey as Rose and Daisy respectively. According to an interview with the British magazine The Radio Times, they called the Cinderella casting a role reversal, Lily originally auditioned for the role of Anastasia.
- Helena Bonham Carter who played the Fairy Godmother and Derek Jacobi who played the King previously collaborated in the Academy Award winning film, The King's Speech. However, their characters (Fairy Godmother and the King) in this movie do not interact.
- Actresses Helena Bonham Carter and Holliday Grainger previously worked in the 2012 version of Great Expectations.
- When the Prince first meets Cinderella, his first name is revealed to be Kit. Interestingly, this is the first name of his Game of Thrones co-star, Kit Harington, who plays his half-brother Jon Snow on the show.
- Before Ella's father leaves on his business trip, he asks his daughter and stepdaughters what they would like when he returns. Anastasia and Drisella ask for parasols and lace while Ella asks for the first branch that brushes his shoulder. This is a nod to the Brothers Grimm version of the story, where the stepsisters ask for clothes and jewels and Cinderella asks for the first branch that brushes her father's hat which later grows on her mother's grave and gives her the clothes for the festival where she meets the prince.
- In the ballroom scene, there are various one-colored dresses with similar color patterns as those of Snow White, Aurora, Ariel, Belle and Tiana.
- The doors of Cinderella's home have a few Hidden Mickeys.
- The famous painting The Swing features a girl on a swing in a garden and she loses her shoe. That is reenacted while Cinderella is in the secret garden with the prince.
- Co-stars Richard Madden, Lily James and Derek Jacobi once again co-starred in Romeo and Juliet, directed by Cinderella director Kenneth Branagh. The show was performed live on stage in London in 2016.
- Lily James (Cinderella) and Hayley Atwell (Cinderella's mother) share a birthday, seven years apart.
- This is the fifth Disney film to only show the studio's logo at the beginning, and the main title and the closing credits at the end.
- There were eight different versions of that iconic blue dress. Academy Award-winning costume designer Sandy Powell says, "A couple were for the stunt woman who didn't do the dance – the stunt woman was used for running downstairs. The dress for dancing was only a couple of inches shorter so that it didn't touch the ground to help save Richard from treading on it and falling. The same for running down stairs and we had to make multiples because the hems get wet and dirty really quickly." As it appears as if James is floating on air with the dress swooshing around during the dance sequence, Powell states that the dress was "really light. It's a very fine silk crêpe line and a polyester which is light as air. The whole thing is over a wire cage and that gives it it's volume. The most important thing was its movement. We did a lot of different combinations of fabric. That's what I hoped would happen when she's dancing – that all the layers would move independent of each other. They are all different colors."
- It was a challenge to find the perfect Cinderella. Though Producer David Barron says "there's nobody else" that could have played the part as perfectly as James does, he admits they had a hard time finding her. "Before Ken [Branagh] and I became involved, they had already tested quite a few Cinderellas. We knew she was the one – there's just something that emanates from her." Director Kenneth Branagh says, "Inevitably however beautiful a story is, it just wouldn't work if you didn't get the right person. It ends up being a bit of alchemy who meets it. We very lucky she came into our lives." Producer Allison Shearmur says, "Was it hard? Yes. Did we get blessed? Yes. She's perfect. The kindness, the goodness; she is lovely."
- Lily James studied the animated classic to nail Ella's physicality. She says, "One of the main things I wanted to take from the animated film was I wanted to take that grace and that ease and that movement – but I still wanted it to feel real. I didn't want her to seem like she's this ballet dancer, prancing about. I loved her physicality in the film. There's a moment where she cries by the well and her back undulates and without seeing her face, you can feel her grief. In the film, I tried to basically mimic that moment, which was the only time I mimicked."
- A total of 10,000 Swarovski crystals were one-by-one placed on the blue dress (in Lily James' hair as well).
- For the blue dress, there was a total of 270 yards of fabric used, and up to two miles of hem.
- Early reports say that the Screenplay is co-written by Aline Brosh McKenna & Chris Weitz, but after the struggle of the Writer's Guild of America (WGA), the promotional material and the closing credits said "Screenplay by Chris Weitz".
- Hayley Atwell, Stellan Skarsgård and Cate Blanchett all have roles in the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Atwell plays Peggy Carter; Skarsgård portrays Erik Selvig; and later Blanchett has been cast as Hela in Thor: Ragnarok.