The tale of Cinderella has been retold, directly or indirectly, countless times in recent years, but something just happened to it that I would not believe if I had not seen it.
The latest rendition, released in theaters this past weekend, tells the story with delightful charm, breathtaking beauty, squeaky-clean morality and — most surprising in this age of sly sarcasm — “without a hint of irony.”
That last phrase I stole from another princess film — Enchanted — which was, phrase notwithstanding, rich in irony (as well as terrific humor and great music).
With Cinderella (2015), director Kenneth Branagh and screenwriter Chris Weitz have done the almost unimaginable. They’ve displayed sincere affection between a prince and a servant girl, without post-modern angst or politically correct messaging.
In a word, they made a “Disney movie” the likes of which I feared had faded to black with each year since Walt’s passing.
If there is any seemingly obligatory commentary about the role of women, gender equality, and the impossible dream of true love, it’s among the bitter on Twitter, not in the film.
Perhaps more shocking than the genuine and chaste love between the prince and Cinderella is the sincere respect, love and admiration between the prince and his father, the king, as the son struggles to balance his love for the mysterious maiden, with his desire to honor his father. Most men yearn for a such a relationship with their boys.
Fairy tales were meant to sweep us from our mundane lives, captivate our hearts, lift our spirits and make us dream again. This Cinderella does all of that better than anything I’ve seen since Beauty and the Beast (1991).