For years, Walt Disney Studios has been interested in bringing “Cinderella” back to the big screen, to reintroduce timeless tale to a 21st-century audience and build on the nostalgia and memories cherished by millions around the world. Of utmost importance, the film needed to be entertaining and bring as much fun and humanity to the fairy-tale characters as possible, while preserving the unforgettable elements from the animated classic.
Director Kenneth Branagh (Hamlet, Thor) had never toyed with the idea of directing a fairy tale before, but after reading the script by screenwriter Chris Weitz (“About a Boy”), found that the story spoke to him in ways he never imagined.
“I was captivated by the power of the story and felt I was in sync with the visual artistry that was being developed,” Branagh says. “It’s a classic piece of storytelling where the central character goes on a journey that we can really identify with, so the texture and landscape of a great story was wonderful to play with as a director.”
Ella (Lily James of Downton Abbey fame) is a beautiful young woman whose idyllic life comes crashing down when her merchant Father (Ben Chaplin) remarries following the tragic death of her Mother (Golden Globe® nominee Hayley Atwell). Eager to support her loving father, Ella welcomes her new Stepmother (two-time Academy Award® winner Cate Blanche) and her daughters, Anastasia (Holliday Grainger) and Drisella (Sophie McShera), into the family home. But when Ella’s father unexpectedly passes away, she finds herself at the mercy of a jealous and cruel new family.
Soon, she is forced to become their servant, disrespected, covered in ashes and spitefully renamed Cinderella. Yet, despite the cruelty inflicted upon her, Ella will not give in to despair nor despise those who mistreat her, and she continues to remain positive, determined to honor her mother’s dying words to “have courage and be kind.”
When Ella meets a dashing stranger in the woods, unaware that he is really the Prince (Richard Madden) and not merely Kit, an apprentice at the palace, she believes she has finally found a kindred soul. It appears her fortunes may be about to change when the King (BAFTA® and Emmy® Award winner Derek Jacobi) summons all maidens in the kingdom to attend a royal ball at the palace, raising Ella’s hopes of once again encountering the charming Kit. Alas, her Stepmother forbids her to attend and callously destroys her dress.
Meanwhile, the calculang Grand Duke (Stellan Skarsgård) devises a plan to thwart the Prince’s hopes of reuniting with Ella and enlists the support of the devious Stepmother. But, as in all good fairy tales, help is at hand. Soon, a kindly beggar woman (two-time Academy Award® nominee Helena Bonham Carter) steps forward and, armed with a pumpkin, a few mice and a magic wand, changes Cinderella’s
A live-action feature inspired by the classic fairy tale, Disney’s “Cinderella” brings to life the beloved characters and timeless images from the studio’s 1950 animated masterpiece in a visually-dazzling spectacle for a whole new generation.
The stellar production team behind the camera includes: director of photography Haris Zambarloukos, BSC; three-time Academy Award®-winning production designer Dante Ferret; three-time Academy Award-winning costume designer Sandy Powell; Academy Award-winning editor Martin Walsh, ACE; and two-time Academy Award-nominated composer Patrick Doyle.