It appears that Frozen has lit a fire under some of the people over at Disney. The world’s overwhelming response to tough, capable sisters Anna and Elsa has changed the way Disney is portraying its princesses. Gone are the days of damsels in distress and women that serve solely as love interests. Skeptics need look no further than Disney’s latest live action adaptation of an animated classic, Cinderella, for proof. While the original animated film will always hold a special place in the hearts of those who watched it as children, it was time for the sweet cinder girl to speak for a new generation of young ladies. That’s not to say that the new film is drastically different from the old; there’s still romance, magic, and redemption. But, like the Princesses of Arendelle, Ella will prove that she’s the one in charge of her destiny.
Part of the challenge of transitioning the film from animation to live action was to get the time and setting right. Few people know how to immerse an audience in a land of kings, queens, castles, and sweeping romance better than the film’s director, Kenneth Branagh. The famed Shakespearean actor and director has made a career out of period pieces and showcased how he could blend feudal elements with modern style when he directed Thor. So too did screenwriter Chris Weitz blend the classically romantic and the modern in his script for Cinderella. Wietz is no stranger to romance, having written About a Boy and directed The Twilight Saga: New Moon.
With classic romance came a need to balance it with progressive sensibilities. For instance, instead of meeting and captivating Prince Charming (GoT’s Richard Madden) with her magical makeover, they meet before that as simply themselves. This gives the prince a chance to fall for Ella (Lily James) as she truly is, and when the prince tells Ella he’s a simple servant, she falls for him and not his station in life. In addition, Cinderella doesn’t just wait around for her Prince to find her; since her stepmother (Cate Blanchett) and the Grand Duke (Stellan Skarsgård) conspire against their romance, it’s up to the young lovers to find each other.
Critics are already calling Cinderella the best adaptation of a Disney animated film to a live action feature; due in part to the film’s ability to provide an empowering character that girls can admire, as well as retaining the romance, magic, and charm of the original film. How much the filmmakers were inspired by Frozen is debatable, but what is certain is that you can catch an exclusive new short, Frozen Fever, in theaters right before Cinderella. Find showtimes and tickets here.