Remakes of classical fairy tales have long been a popular filmmaking trend, from Red Riding Hood to Snow White and the Huntsman. It is no mistake to think that fairy tales capture an audience in ways that other films do not. It is easy to captivate an audience with a tale of an innocent young woman who wishes only to make a life for herself – a story of hope, dreams, and, above all, true love. Film producer Kay Cannon recognized this, going ahead with her take on the classic Cinderella story, released through Amazon Prime Video on September 3. Cinderella is a fatally modern musical spin on this classic story that fails to preserve the essence of the cherished fairytale.
The story, reminiscent of the classic 1950 Walt Disney’s Cinderella, introduces us to the beautiful but mistreated Cinderella (Camila Cabello), who spends her time either in a basement with a few friendly creatures or serving her “cruel” step-mother Vivian (Idina Menzel) and step-sisters (Maddie Baillio, Charlotte Spencer). Her whole life changes once she crosses paths with Prince Robert a.k.a Prince Charming (Nicholas Galitzine).
On the surface, the remake follows the “classic Cinderella story,” but it strays from it in ways that destroy the original’s allure. The flaws are found in the film’s use of popular “lingo” – the attempt to integrate pop culture into the original plot. Additionally, its characters trail too far from what made the Disney classic a “classic.” The original ‘s attraction rests in its timelessness, as the sensation of impossibility, yet, oddly enough, endless possibility, makes the fairy tale so alluring. Cinderella washes this away with its constant attempt to “correct” the traditional tale.
This is not to say that the movie has no redeeming qualities. Its musical score is excellent and Camila Cabello’s musical performances are dazzling. The cinematography is similarly marvelous, immersing the viewer in an enchanting far off land. The costumes are breathtaking, notably Cinderella’s dresses. Additionally, the movie makes strides towards a more gender-inclusive take on the story, such as introducing the fairy godmother as a male character.
Despite these memorable moments, the film revolves around a flawed effort for Cinderella to prove her independence by following her dream to become a dress-maker. Unfortunately, the story over-focuses upon her pursuit of this passion, failing to fulfill the magic in a fairy tale that is the quest of true love. This also goes for other female characters, such as the plotline of Prince Robert’s power-hungry sister which only detracts from the narrative in an attempt to turn beloved characters into social commentary. This has its respective place in movies, but feels amiss in fairytales.
In short, Cinderella loses all the excitement and emotions evoked by the original story, prioritizing frantic musical numbers and the over-projection of modern ideals. The remake of this classic fairy tale is neither nostalgic nor enjoyable. It is safe to say that traditional fairytales are “traditional” for a reason.