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American Women's Club of Hamburg


Kenneth Branagh, England/ America
Director Kenneth Branagh and Walt Disney Pictures attempted a new makeover of this 1950’s classical animation tale of Cinderella by using a secret weapon: Sandy Powell, the three-time British Oscar winner for her costume designs. She is known for films such as The Aviator, Shakespeare in Love and The Wolf on Wall Street. At the press conference in Berlin, Powell says,”that it is a costume designer’s dream come true and the biggest challenge is to live up to the expectation of every six-year-old girl’s dream.” And that is exactly what she had set out to achieve by building costumes that could possibly qualify for a set design sculpture rather than a costume piece.
 Lily James, who played Cinderella, explained, “The dress was so magical but it was quite painful. It was very tight.   We each had to have our own separate tents because the dresses were so big.” Helen Bonham Carter, who played the fairy godmother, indicted that they had about four feet between them because of the width of the dresses and said that Sandy is a genius but comfort was not a priority. “We were eight feet wide so we couldn’t actually get close to each other.” She explained further that due to it being a night shot, they were quite cold. She made us all laugh when she described her feelings about this dress. “My dress was extraordinarily creative; I have never worn anything like it and don’t hope to wear anything like it again. I was a walking lamp. I had 4000 LED lights inside it. I had a fifteen-pound battery packed in my bum and had a lovely young man from Belgium who worked for Phillips who would come up and turn me on.” The wicked Stepmother (Cate Blanchett) wore symbolic clothes such as the color green which symbolize her jealousy joined together with her wicked attitude made a very strong statement. Blanchett said that she enjoyed playing the wicked parts since she didn’t need to worry about being liked. So it looks like Sandy Powell is going for her fourth Oscar. The sets were equally amazing. Branagh explained that they used 2500 candles in the chandeliers which were wicks set in in oil that had to be changed every twenty minutes to give that magical ballroom its glow. It just gives you an idea of how labor intensive this film really was and how important the timing was to be successful.
However Branagh implied that they were trying to give a more contemporary view of this classic by shedding some of the traditional ideas such as the prince doesn’t come in and save the day but that they would be ruling as equals, the poor citizen with the royal family.  It continued on with the annoying 1950’s idea that  the woman’s role is still to have “courage and be kind”, which was repeatedly stated, made me think they were trying to imbed it into my brain subconsciously  while  Prince Charming’s character still remains flat even to the end. More than half the film was a narration and I kept waiting for the film to get started which happened the minute the fairy god mother arrived. The pumpkin transformation into the coach was definitely a scene that saves this movie. And I definitely want a pair of those glass slippers since them deemed them to have a comfort fit. This movie will fit the shoe of every little girl’s dream but the slipper has some cracks for those adults giving it some serious thoughts.
The basic framework of the original animation is still very much present. Cinderella’s mice friends, her blue dress, her spoiled sisters are all very much present. The film unfortunately has a narrative that lasts way too long and the film really starts taking off the minute that the fairy god mother (Helena Bonham) hits the scene. Although the evil step mother (Cate Blanchett) is wonderful the minute she steps on to the screen. The lesson to be patient and kind is something we learn over and over and, as women, I don’t think it is a lesson that we need to be taught without our counterparts learning that as well. (Shelly Schoeneshoefer)

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