Cinderella (2015)

Growing up on a grand country mansion, Ella passed her time having conversations with her animal friends, and appreciating the presence and adoration of her loving parents. But when Ella’s mother falls ill, she receives meaningful advice: “have courage and be kind.” Unlike the original, the 2015 version of Cinderella displays a girl’s ambition of her own independence, rather than finding it within a man.

As the years go on, Ella and her father, a merchant, attempt to enjoy life together, but his heart longs for companionship. And so, when he meets a beautiful widow with two daughters around Ella’s age, it seems that a second chance at happiness has arrived. When her father also falls ill Ella is left with her stepmother who immediately begins to use Ella as a maid rather than her own daughter.

To escape from her stepmother Ella rides into the forest on her horse. Suddenly, a stag that is hunted by the prince and his guards appears and frightens Ella’s horse.  When the prince sees this, he immediately comes to her aid and calms the horse. The prince is intrigued by Ella who insists that he stop hunting the stag, “we must simply have courage and be kind, mustn’t we?” Ella’s kindness is a fascinating trait the intrigues the prince and the audience throughout the whole movie.

Meanwhile, Lady Tremaine and her vain daughters viciously attack Ella until she feels she can no longer keep her promise to her mother. After enduring an especially horrible verbal attack from her stepmother, Ella begins to cry and apologizes to her deceased mother, saying, “I’m sorry mother. I’m sorry. I said I’d have courage. But I don’t. I don’t believe anymore.” This devastating moment of weakness is a real tearjerker, and perfectly portrays Ella’s misery without her family.

It is at this moment that her fairy godmother appears. Initially dressed as an old beggar, she transforms herself into a more beautiful form and reignites Ella’s downtrodden spirit. She then changes a pumpkin into a glamorous golden carriage, Ella’s ragged clothes into royalty and transforms Ella’s animal friends into horses and footmen. Before Ella leaves for the ball, her fairy godmother warns her that she has until midnight until the spell will wear off and “everything will return to its true form.”

Ella manages to arrive at the ball just in time for the prince to choose a partner for the first dance. Of course, he chooses her, and the two spend the whole evening together. Throughout this scene Lady Tremaine’s obsessiveness of getting her daughters recognized by the prince is revealed. Her engrossed life style exemplifies what Ella never wishes to become.  When Ella hears the first strike of midnight she rushes home before the spell can wear off. While leaving, she slips and leaves one of her glass slippers on the castle stairs.

When her stepmother and stepsisters return from the ball they complain about a gorgeous young woman who captured the attention of the prince. Unbeknownst to them, it was Ella. Within the next couple  of weeks her stepmother grows suspicious of Ella’s liveliness. Just like in the 1950 version of Cinderella, Ella’s delight comes from spending time with the prince. When Lady Tremaine discovers Ella’s other glass slipper she locks Ella in the attic for deceiving her. It is at this time that the king passes and the prince, who is now the king, orders his men to find Ella.

Throughout the kingdom women attempt to fit into Ella’s glass slipper. When the men finally arrive at Ella’s home they only see the two stepsisters, both of whom cannot fit the shoe. As they are leaving Ella begins to sing, and with the help of her animal friends, she is heard by the king’s men. The men rush upstairs and find Ella in the attic, and as they slide the glass slipper onto her foot the king appears.

Before Ella leaves the house with the king she turns to her stepmother and forgives her for all of the mistreatment throughout the years. This unexpected moment is something that gives this version of a story that’s been around for centuries a virtuous resonance.