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Film / Cinderella (2015)

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Lavender's blue, dilly dilly, Lavender's green,
When you are king, dilly dilly, I shall be queen
"Have courage and be kind."

Cinderella is a 2015 Disney film based on the animated classic. It is directed by Kenneth Branagh, and its cast includes Lily James as Ella / "Cinderella", Cate Blanchett as Lady Tremaine / "The Wicked Stepmother", Richard Madden as Kit / "Prince Charming", Helena Bonham Carter as the Fairy Godmother, Stellan Skarsgård as the Grand Duke, Sir Derek Jacobi as the King and Hayley Atwell as Ella's birth mother.

You know the story: After an idyllic childhood with her parents, young Ella finds herself orphaned and trapped with a wretched stepfamily. Forced to be their servant, Ella struggles to keep up her courage in reverence of her lost mother. But after a chance encounter with a kind gentleman in the woods, followed by the announcement of a royal ball, Ella sets out to attend the ball in hopes of finding that kind friend who gave her hope again. The rest includes a fairy godmother, glass slippers, nasty siblings, magical mice and lizards, and a touching tale of true love amid hardship.

The film debuted on March 13, 2015. As a special promotion, Cinderella was preceded in theaters by the short film "Frozen Fever", a follow-up to Frozen.

This film provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Name Change: Very downplayed. In this film, Drisella's name is spelt with an 'S', rather than a 'Z' as in the animated film.
  • Adaptational Angst Upgrade:
    • Somewhat; Cinderella in the original film took her step-family's abuse as stoically as possible, only breaking down when she's denied a chance to go to the ball. In this film, Ella is shown to be clearly affected by her mistreatment, well before the dress-tearing scene. Nonetheless, she tries to make the best with what she's got.
    • Prince Kit goes through this too, due to his father's Death by Adaptation.
    • Tremaine is given a more sympathetic, deeper personality, as opposed to her flat portrayal in earlier adaptations. Of course, she can hardly be considered anything but the villain, just one with a better argument. In something the original Lady Tremaine would never do, this Wicked Stepmother is perfectly willing to let Cinderella marry her beloved prince... however, even then she has ulterior motives for doing so.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness:
    • Lady Tremaine in the 1950 animated film isn't ugly, but she is depicted as austere and aging, with greying hair and dressed in high-necked, dark-colored clothing. In this film, she's younger, more stylish, and played by Cate Blanchett.
    • The "ugly" stepsisters (who were genuinely unsightly in the animated film) here just wear ghastly clothes with bad make-up choices, although the film's narration comments that they aren't ugly on the outside, but on the inside.
    • The Fairy Godmother. First she appears as an emaciated, hunchbacked old woman, contrasting with the healthier sweet-granny character of the animated film, but then she transforms into Helena Bonham Carter with a beautiful Pimped-Out Dress.
  • Adaptational Context Change: A slight one for the phrase "Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo". While in the animated version, it's the Fairy Godmother's all-purpose incantation for every spell she casts, here it only turn animals into humans. The pumpkin and dress transformations are done without magic words.
  • Adaptational Expansion: The basic plot is the same as the animated film's, but more time is given to fleshing out the characters and the setting. The prologue focuses on Cinderella's childhood, the deaths of her parents, and other events leading up to her current life with the stepfamily. Her relationship with Kit is also much more established here than in the original film.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy:
    • In contrast to his portrayal in the animated film, the King is much more friendly to his subjects.
    • Anastasia and Drisella are also far less heinous than in the animated Disney movie, making mean remarks to Cinderella at times but otherwise leaving her alone, and sometimes they are even civil and semi-friendly to her when in a good mood, with Lady Tremaine doing the majority of the actual bullying toward her. However, this is actually closer to the depiction of the stepsisters in the classic Charles Perrault version of the tale, complete with them apologizing to and being forgiven by Cinderella in the end.
    • Lucifer gets this to a small degree. He's not as malicious as his animated counterpart, and despite being owned by Lady Tremaine, he bears no real hostility towards Cinderella herself. His chasing after the mice is pretty much portrayed as something a cat would normally do, rather than anything outright evil or malicious.
  • Adaptational Jerkass:
    • In the animated film, the Duke was the competent right-hand-man and Only Sane Man to the boisterous king. He carried out the king's slightly whimsical demands in a far saner way. In this film, the Duke is a schemer more closely mirroring Lady Tremaine, and who wants the Prince to marry based on politics rather than on love. That said, he's definitely more honourable than Lady Tremaine, and it's worth noting that he clearly has the kingdom's welfare in mind. While a schemer to achieve his ends, the novelization states that he is looking out for the kingdom and the king.
    • In the sequel to the animated film, Anastasia has a Heel–Face Turn. Here, she leaves the kingdom alongside her mother and sister with no sign of redemption.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Cinderella was a strawberry-blonde in the animated Disney film, but is made a much lighter shade of blonde. Lady Tremaine had grey hair but now has red hair. Anastasia's red hair is darkened to auburn and Drizella's dark hair is lightened to red. The Duke, black-haired in the animated film, has a bright orange mustache here. Likewise since the Fairy Godmother is younger, she now has blond hair instead of white.
  • Adaptation Explanation Extrication: Gus Gus retains his name from the animated film, but no mention is given of his real name "Octavius", from which Augustus/Gus is a nickname of.
  • Adaptational Explanation: The film details why Lady Tremaine mistreats Cinderella. It's because she lost both of her husbands and was simply trying to support her two daughters.
  • Adaptational Karma: Lady Tremaine gets exiled here, as opposed to her fate being unconfirmed in the animated film. Cinderella also gets a proper defeat on her — forgiving her as she leaves the house, much to the stepmother's shock.
  • Adaptation Name Change: If one goes by the animated Disney film, Cinderella was actually the girl's real name. Here, though it's following many other versions of the story, Ella is her real name, with 'Cinderella' being the nickname her step-family gives to her. Likewise, the prince is here named Kit, as opposed to "Prince Charming".
  • Adaptational Sympathy: Lady Tremaine was little more than a Rich Bitch known for her Death Glare in the original movie. Here, her mistreatment of Cinderella stems from the fact that losing both her husbands — the first she married because she was genuinely in love and the second so she could keep her daughters supported—and not being able to stand the idea that her step-daughter has kept true to herself in spite of all the tragedy while she was never able to.
  • A Dog Named "Dog":
    • In contrast to the mice family, Ella's goose friend is simply named, "Mr. Goose."
    • Ella's lizard friend is simply named, "Mr. Lizard."
  • Almost Kiss: Right after Kit finds Ella and confirms her identity, they are interrupted by the stepsisters rushing into the room.
  • Always Someone Better: Cinderella is better than her sisters in almost every respect: she has a better sense of fashion, is smarter, a better singer and effortlessly attracts the prince's attention. It's also hinted that Cinderella's dad isn't fully over his first wife and loves her over Lady Tremaine. Both facts likely tie into Tremaine's abuse of Cinderella, helping fuel her resentment and jealousy.
  • Anachronism Stew: Word of God is that the film is meant to take place somewhere in the middle of the Nineteenth Century, albeit in a reality where magic can still be present. Due to this vague setting, various anachronisms crop up:
    • The fashion in this film is rather eclectic. Most of the characters wear 19th-century style clothes, but they're taken from a mish-mash of different decades. The adult Cinderella starts the film in something that wouldn't look out of place at the beginning of the century, complete with a Regency era hairstyle, but later wears a ballgown with a massive crinoline, a style that was popular in the 1850-60s, and gets married in a gown that has the shape of something from the 1890s, save for the rather sheer sleeves. Meanwhile, Cinderella's step-family — perhaps as a nod to the fact that the animated version was released in 1950 — boast plenty of 50s-style outfits; including sleeveless/strapless ball gowns, a style that didn't appear until the 1930s.
    • Despite the film's apparent vaguely 19th-century setting, there are princesses at the ball from, among other states, the Seljuks (last Seljuk state disintegrated 1307) and Zaragoza (which was only an independent kingdom until 1110).
    • At one point, Lady Tremaine taunts Cinderella that the prince would never marry a peasant girl, but with a gentlewoman like herself backing her it might be feasible, in a bid to blackmail Cinderella into making her Queen Dowager. If Cinderella's father was a commoner (albeit a rich one) Lady Tremaine would have lost whatever title and privilege she had when she married him. Of course, this is only said in a throw-away line; it’s possible Cinderella's father was a minor noble and Lady Tremaine meant she would lie that Cinderella is nothing more than an orphaned peasant girl she took in. Or she could lie that she is still a gentlewoman.
  • And Now You Must Marry Me:
    • Kit is a rare male victim of this trope, with the Duke marrying him off to the Princess Chelina; how directly involved she is in all this is unclear.
    • Strangely, in a twist, Lady Tremaine is at one point willing to force Cinderella to marry her prince... as long as she is made Queen Dowager. When Cinderella refuses to let her exploit the man she loves like she did her father, Tremaine leaves her in the tower room to rot.
  • Androcles' Lion: Ella is kind to the animals on the farm, and, particularly to the mice: she not only feeds them but also protects them from the cat. In return, not only do the animals serve as the attendants, driver, and horses for her pumpkin carriage, but at the end, two little blue birds tip off the mice about the glass slipper search party coming so that the mice can unclasp the window to let out Ella's voice, thus revealing her presence and defeating the plan of Lady Tremaine and the Grand Duke to hide Ella from the Prince by keeping Ella locked up.
  • …And That Little Girl Was Me: Villain example: Lady Tremaine tells Ella the story about a young girl who married for love, and was happy, until her husband died. Out of concern for her daughters' well-being, the girl, now a grown woman, decided to marry again to provide them with financial support. But then that husband died, too. Her last attempt was to get her daughters to marry the prince of their kingdom, but the prince was instead wooed by a simple servant girl, "and I lived unhappily ever after."
  • Appropriated Appellation: Ella initially despises her stepsisters' awful nickname for her, but eventually comes to accept it and then embrace it, to the point that she even introduces herself to the prince as Cinderella.
  • Arc Words: "Have courage and be kind", told to Ella by her dying mother. What starts out as a simple platitude ends up becoming a challenging Survival Mantra for Ella, as she determines herself to keep finding something in this world to keep hopeful about, even when all she ever seems to receive is hatred and cruelty. The novelization in particular shows that these are words that Kit takes to heart as well.
  • Arranged Marriage: The Duke tries to get Kit to marry the princess of a neighboring kingdom. The King wishes this, too, but eventually concedes to Kit's desire to marry someone he loves, regardless of class. Lady Tremaine, in exchange for helping the Duke prevent Ella and Kit from meeting again and marrying, tells him she would like Drisella and Anastasia to have arranged marriages to wealthy men, and a higher position for herself.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Mice live a very short life — 3 years at the most, but Gus Gus and Jacqueline are shown to have long enough lifespans to witness Cinderella growing up from a little girl to a young woman. Given that they seem to be somewhat more sentient than regular mice, presumably in this universe they have longer life spans.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • In the animated film, Ella's mother is dead before the prologue even starts and her father is only shown briefly. In this film, both of her birth parents appear onscreen and play more important parts in the introduction.
    • The Fairy Godmother only appears once in the original film. Here she narrates the film, and appears throughout it disguised as an old woman.
    • The prince only appeared at the ball in the animated film, but gets a subplot of his own here and much more screen time.
  • Ascended Fridge Horror: A small case where the film asks the question "what would Cinderella become if she didn't hold onto her positive attitude?" The film's answer is that she would become Lady Tremaine.
  • Award-Bait Song: "Strong" by Sonna Rele. Chimes? Check. Upbeat message about inner strength and holding onto your dreams? Check. Chorus at the end? Check.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: A rare inanimate example; the glass slipper looks lovely for having spent an unspecified amount of time in the ashes of a fireplace. Justified in that the slipper is explicitly magical.
  • Best Friend: The Captain of the Guard is this for Prince Kit. He is his close friend and confidant. They hunt and fence together and he is the most vocally supportive of the Prince's actions. It's also heavily implied given his amusement and lack of surprise when a disguised Kit reveals himself as a member of the Duke's entourage that he was in on the Prince's plan from the start.
  • Big Bad: Lady Tremaine, of course.
  • Big Eater: Gus Gus, among the mice, hence why he's so much larger than they are.
  • Bitch Alert: The two stepsisters are introduced making snide comments on the house and Ella's appearance.
  • Blunt "Yes": Lady Tremaine, when she blackmails the Duke to secure high positions for herself and her daughters.
    The Duke: Are you threatening me?
    Lady Tremaine: (smiling sweetly) Yes.
  • Bonding over Missing Parents: At the ball, Ella and Kit's budding romance is deepened when Kit privately reveals to Ella that his father the King is dying, and Ella, who of course lost her own parents, expresses sympathy. A deleted scene also has them discuss their late mothers. And in the final scene, as newlyweds, they gaze together at portraits of their parents, by now all deceased, and remark that they would have loved each other.
  • Bowdlerise: In one instance. The scene in the the animated movie where Cinderella's homemade dress for the ball is torn to shreds by her stepsisters is toned down to Lady Tremaine ripping a few portions, possibly because it would be more difficult to rip a dress apart by hand in live-action (which would double as a Pragmatic Adaptation). Also, showing such a brutal and violent scene in live-action would've surely gotten the film a PG-13 rating.
  • Brainless Beauty: Anastasia and Drisella. As noted above, they are no longer ugly in this adaptation, but they are utterly talentless in contrast with the brainy, highly skilled Cinderella. Lady Tremaine even calls the two her "beautiful, stupid daughters".
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: When the stepsisters are coming up with their new name for Ella after her night by the fireplace, they have this exchange.
    Anastasia: You'll get cinders in our tea!
    Drisella: I've got a new name for her: Cinderwench! I couldn't bear to look so dirty.
    Anastasia: Dirty Ella!
    Drisella: (beat) Cinderella! That's what we'll call you!
  • Break the Cutie: Lady Tremaine makes it her mission to ensure that Ella goes through this, as vengeance for her own harsh life. She nearly succeeds.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: This version of the Fairy Godmother. She doesn't seem to know what she's doing at first — "actually I've forgotten what the trick is" — and she nearly crushes Ella and herself by making the pumpkin grow. But she does get the job done in the end.
  • Butterfly of Transformation: Cinderella's gown from the Fairy Godmother has butterflies decorated along the neckline, plus her shoes, as a motif of her transformation.
  • Casting Gag:
    • Lily James plays the servant to Sophie McShera, the reverse of their roles on Downton Abbey.
    • Likewise, Richard Madden plays a royal who falls in love with a girl considered below his social status, just like his role on Game of Thrones, except this time it has a Happy Ending. Interestingly, his character's name is Kit, just like the actor who plays his on-screen half-brother (actually cousin) in the same show.
  • Cats Are Mean: Downplayed with Lucifer. He's less blatantly sadistic here than in the animated film, and is portrayed as a regular cat who doesn't have the capacity to actively spite Ella, or keep her locked in her room, but is nevertheless the only animal in the house who tries to hurt the other animals (specifically, the mice).
  • Central Theme: The refusal to let your circumstances change you.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Cinderella learns the song Lavender's Blue from her mother. It allows her to be found by the royal search party just as they are about to leave, realizing another woman lives on the residence.
  • Close on Title: The movie's title doesn't appear until the very end of the film, before the credits scroll up.
  • Cloudcuckoolander:
    • In-Universe, Drisella and Anastasia see Ella as this, due to the latter's tendency to talk to mice.
    • We're not sure if the Fairy Godmother classifies under this, whether she's just plain crazy, or whether she's actually on something. Could be all three.
  • Colour-Coded Characters: Ella usually wears blue, Lady Tremaine usually wears green, Drisella usually wears yellow and Anastasia usually wears pink.
  • Cool Old Guy: The King. He takes Ella running into him as she flees the palace in stride, and ultimately agrees to his son pursuing the mysterious maiden, since he's moved by her telling him that Kit is a wonderful man who loves his father.
  • Costume Porn: Despite being Hollywood Costuming, the outfits here are about as grand and detailed as they might have been when the story takes place. Cinderella's ball gown in particular is stunning, an iridescent, glowing blue confection of crystals and tulle that rather looks as if someone took a Hubble Space Telescope image of a blue-tinted galaxy or nebula and spun it into a gown. It also hearkens to the famous Blue Morpho butterfly; fitting given the butterfly motif of the film (and indeed, butterflies are present on the gown's neckline).
  • Cruel Mercy: Ella forgiving Tremaine definitely counts as this, as it means that all of Tremaine's efforts to break Ella have failed.
  • The Cynic: Lady Tremaine is portrayed as this. As the story she later tells Ella proves, she was once just as happy and idealistic as Ella is, but after losing the husband she married for love and then the one she married to secure a future for herself and her daughters, she lived "unhappily ever after". She tries so hard to break Ella's spirit because she hates that Ella manages to keep her good nature in the face of adversity when Lady Tremaine failed to.
  • Dance of Romance: This trope is inevitable, and played very much straight at the royal ball. Ella and Kit dance almost immediately, followed by the pair going into the garden for some privacy. The music for that moment in the soundtrack is even called "La Valse d'Amour" (The Waltz of Love).
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Lady Tremaine gets some really cutting one-liners, like the scene where she tells her daughter to shut up. It emphasizes her anger and bitterness contrasted against Ella's sincerity and kindness.
    • The Captain. "Then has your cat learned to sing?" indeed.
  • Death by Adaptation:
    • The prince's mother is flat-out said to be dead here. While the original film implied this was the case, it never directly specified it, either, until the second sequel.
    • The King turns out to be dying when introduced, hence why he's ramping up the pressure for Kit to marry an advantageous bride. Ultimately, on his deathbed, he comes around and urges Kit to find that girl of his dreams.
    • Cinderella's father is never said to be dead in most traditional versions of the story; he is merely, for better or for worse, too governed by the stepmother to do anything. Justified in that this is a remake of the animated film, which also killed him off.
  • Death Glare: As the Captain escorts Ella downstairs to try on the slipper, Lady Tremaine grabs her arm as she walks past and begins to threaten her. Ella nonchalantly turns and gives her abusive stepmother a short, steely glare cowing her into silence. This not only causes Lady Tremaine to back off once and for all, but comes to realize that she has finally lost.
  • Decomposite Character: The Grand Duke suffers both In Name Only and Adaptational Villainy with his good character being given to the Captain.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Ella nearly crosses this when her stepmother and sisters rip her mother's dress, it's only her fairy godmother's arrival that restores hope.
  • Didn't Think This Through: When the Fairy Godmother decides to transform a pumpkin into a carriage, Cinderella has about enough time to point out they are inside a shed before the expanding pumpkin pins them against the wall. They manage to escape just as the completed carriage destroys the shed. Ditto for turning a goose into a coachman for said carriage; as the goose quickly points out, he has no experience when it comes to driving.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: Inverted when The King dies with his son Kit in his arms.
  • Disappeared Dad: Anastasia and Drusella's father had died offscreen before they're even shown.
  • Disposable Fiancée: Princess Chelina was promised to Prince Kit, but dips out of the story once it becomes clear Kit only has eyes for Ella.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The story contains many allusions to Parental Abuse. While never stated in the animated version, this version flat out shows that Ella does indeed have servants that she is friends with. What's more, they are flat out dismissed onscreen and at another point, Ella is in town speaking with a former servant who is clearly asking her why she doesn't just leave.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Implied during the Good Cannot Comprehend Evil bit below; Lady Tremaine's response to Ella saying that she had tried to be kind to her is "You? Kind to me?" in a shocked and offended tone, as her pride won't let her separate genuine compassion from the condescending kind.
  • The Dragon: The Grand Duke, in the live-action adaptation, who seeks to advance his own agenda for the sake of the kingdom rather than the King and Prince, and had promised that Prince Kit would be married to a princess, is overheard and blackmailed by Lady Tremaine to make her a countess and provide worthy husbands for her daughters. He ends up leaving the kingdom with Lady Tremaine, Anastasia and Drizella to never return.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Ella goes through the deaths of her beloved parents and abuse at the hands of her stepfamily, reaching a point where she doesn't even feel like a human girl, and very nearly is kept from the prince by her stepmother's greed and envy. Kit, meanwhile, fights pressure from his father and the Duke to agree to a politically advantageous marriage and goes through the death of his father. It's also implied that he and his father weren't always on the best of terms when he was growing up, with him telling Ella that he was rarely called Kit by the king. By the end of the movie, the pair find each other, finally know each other's true identities and accept them, and are Happily Married.
  • Easily Forgiven: Anastasia and Drisella apologize to Cinderella in the end, who gives them a forgiving smile in reply. Granted, they hadn't been all that bad to her in this version compared to others. She also forgives Lady Tremaine, who was quite cruel, though she doesn't apologize in the least. However, Ella's just that kind, since her mother instructed her to be. Nonetheless, it's made clear she never had more contact with any of them, and they left the kingdom.
  • Elegant Classical Musician: Cinderella is a lovely singer in contrast to her sisters who are Hollywood Tone-Deaf and awful piano players.
  • Everything's Better with Sparkles: Ella's ball outfit is entirely covered with glitter. It's closer to the redesigned princess look than the original.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Averted, quite surprisingly given the Good Cannot Comprehend Evil example below; Lady Tremaine does understand that Ella's kindness and sincerity are genuine rather than a self-serving performance, and actually hates her because of this. This is clearly shown during her Motive Rant scene, where Ella's rather unconvincing assertion that she was given the glass slippers (and by extension the dress, carriage etc.) is barely questioned at all.
    • Not always averted: Lady Tremaine's offer/demand to support Ella in becoming queen in exchange for favors afterwards has no way of stopping Ella from reneging afterwards, but it never seems to occur to either of them that Ella might be dishonest. Had Lady Tremaine been more understanding of Ella's kind and forgiving nature, however, she might well have framed the offer differently, hiding the part about her own cruel intentions of controlling the king and presenting it as merely a desire to help Ella gain her true love. It likely wouldn't have worked to the fullest - Kit is not likely to have been so easily pushed over by his mother-in-law - but in any case, had Tremaine left out the threats, Ella would probably have accepted her offer, and Anastasia and Drisella might even have gotten the advantageous marriages her mother sought.
  • Evil Desires Innocence: Implied to be why Lady Tremaine is so particularly cruel to Cinderella, though there is an added layer of Sour Outside, Sad Inside. Tremaine is herself a widow who lost her happy ending and married for money to protect her daughters' livelihood, so it's implied she sees in Ella everything she once was.
    Cinderella: [after Lady Tremaine shatters her glass slipper on the wall; horrified and angry] Why? Why are you so cruel? I don't understand it. I've tried to be kind to you.
    Lady Tremaine: You? Kind to me?
    Cinderella: Yes. And though no one deserves to be treated as you have treated me. Why do you do it? Why?
    Lady Tremaine: Why? Because you are young, and innocent, and good, and I...
    [pause. she furiously turns to leave, locking Cinderella in her room]
  • Evil Redhead: Lady Tremaine. Her daughters fare a little better.
  • Exact Words: The Prince introduces himself to Ella as an apprentice who works at the palace, and that his father calls him Kit "when he's in a good mood". Later, at the ball:
    Ella: So you're the prince!
    Kit: Not the prince, exactly. There are plenty of princes in the world. I'm only a prince.
    Ella: But your name's not really Kit.
    Kit: Oh, certainly it is, and my father still calls me that, when he's especially un-peeved at me.
    Ella: But you're no apprentice.
    Kit: I am. An apprentice monarch. Still learning my trade.
    Ella: Oh, gosh!
  • The Exile: The Tremaines' fate, along with the Duke, although in the Tremaines' case it's Lady Tremaine's own choice because her defeat has broken her so much that she can't live in the same kingdom Cinderella is now queen of. "Forgiven or not", as the Fairy Godmother puts it, they still end up punished for their actions.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Lady Tremaine, though as time goes on she loses the need to feign any politeness towards Ella.
    Ella: Yes, stepmother.
    Tremaine: Oh, you needn't call me that. "Madam" will do.
  • Female Empowerment Song: The song that plays over the credits is called "Strong". The lyrics encourage girls to believe that they are strong enough that they don't need a prince to rescue them.
  • Friend-or-Idol Decision: Gus Gus, of all the characters, ends up with this. When seeing his fellow mice struggling to open a window latch so the Prince's party can hear Ella upstairs, he looks back at his crumb and drops it to help them.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Ella befriends any animals she meets, including the mice in the cellar or their old family horse. She even saves a stag that the prince is hunting by warning it of his approaching party. She goes so far as to even forgive Lady Tremaine. To put it in perspective, Lady Tremaine had treated her horribly (especially since the death of her father) for practically the whole film.
  • Gender Flip: Jaq the mouse from the animated movie becomes Jacqueline in this movie.
  • The Girl Who Fits This Slipper: Played straight, unlike the animated movie, which subverted it. Kit's search party travels far and wide, but no one but Ella fits the glass slipper, though the film isn't clear on whether the slipper magically prevents others' feet from fitting it, or if Ella just has the smallest feet in the kingdom.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: For once, the Wicked Stepmother wants to exploit her connection to Cinderella to make herself the Queen Dowager. Although when that plan fails, she'll settle for a countess.
  • Gold Digger: Lady Tremaine only marries Ella's father for security, and when he dies, her only thought is "How will we live?" From then on, her goal is to rise out of genteel poverty by securing advantageous marriages for her daughters.
  • Good Cannot Comprehend Evil: When Cinderella can no longer take anymore from Lady Tremaine, she breaks down, asking her "Why? Why are you so cruel? I don't understand it. I've tried to be kind to you."
  • Good Parents:
    • The King originally wants Kit to marry a princess for political strength, but then he (briefly) meets Cinderella and understands why Kit has fallen heads-over-heels in love with her. His dying wish is for Kit to go and find her.
    • Cinderella's biological parents, naturally, before they die. Her mother encourages her imagination and teaches her to always be courageous and kind, while her father showers her with love and brings her presents from his travels. Even when he dies, he makes sure Ella gets the tree branch she asked of him.
  • Graceful Loser:
    • The Grand Duke humbly accepts defeat and bows to Cinderella at the end, and the stepsisters actually sincerely smile for Cinderella and Kit. Only Lady Tremaine fails to take her loss well.
    • At the ball, the Princess Chelina appears to take Kit opting to dance with Ella instead of her quite gracefully.
  • Grand Staircase Entrance: When Ella enters the ball, everyone there is stunned and can't stop looking at her. At the end of the film, she gets another, less grand but no less important staircase entrance as she finally appears to the Prince as she normally is (rather than in an enchanted dress).
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language: During the introductory scene of the ball, the Chinese princess is introduced as Mei-Mei (which simply translates to the affectionate term "little sister", and as such is extremely unlikely to be an actual name of one of the nobility), along with a Japanese princess whose name sounds suspiciously like a heinous mispronunciation of hime (meaning "princess").
  • Gratuitous French: Ella is fluent in French, since her father has taught her since she was a child. Lady Tremaine and her daughters are perplexed to discover that Ella pronounces and makes complete sentences better than they do, to the point that Drisella and Anastasia think she is speaking "Italian".
  • Green-Eyed Monster: In this version, it's shown that Lady Tremaine's mean treatment towards Ella is because Ella's father still remembers his late wife and Ella is still more important to him than her. Could also be considered the fact that Ella is better than her own daughters in every aspect.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Both Ella and her saintly mother are blonde — to contrast with her stepmother and stepsisters who have darker hair. The Fairy Godmother becomes a blonde, too.
  • Have You Told Anyone Else?: Subverted; when Lady Tremaine meets the Grand Duke and reveals the identity of the Mystery Princess, he asks her if she's told anyone else. Lady Tremaine says no, then proceeds to blackmail him for a noblewoman's rank in exchange — and he readily agrees.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Ella's father, who thinks she'll get along perfectly with her new family members all by herself.
  • Hypocrite: Part of Lady Tremaine's resentment towards Cinderella is that Cinderalla's father preferred his first wife, but Tremaine makes it clear during her Motive Rant that she preferred her first husband, describing Francis as the one she married for love and Cinderalla's father as the one she married for money.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: This is the first symptom of the unspecified disease that kills Ella's mother.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Ella's father is a Nice Guy, but he does love Ella, and her late mother's memory, more than his new wife and stepdaughters. Lady Tremaine overhears a conversation between them where, without saying it outright, he makes this clear. It becomes the seed of a lot of the abuse she deals later.
  • Kick the Dog: Lady Tremaine does this to Cinderella every chance she gets:
    • When Ella is setting a place for herself at breakfast, she essentially tells her she's a servant now.
    • She rips the sleeve off Ella's dress, stopping her from going to the ball. Knowing that the dress was her mother's.
    • Ella refuses to go along with her evil plan, so she smashes the remaining glass slipper.
  • King Incognito: Kit, after becoming king, disguises himself as part of the party looking for Cinderella, just to make sure the Grand Duke leaves no stone unturned.
  • Large Ham:
    • The Royal Crier. Then again, that's kind of his job.
    • Lady Tremaine dips into sinister hammy territory from time to time as well.
  • Law of Chromatic Superiority: Ella's ballroom dress is a vivid shade of blue that's almost absent from the rest of the film. This is especially notable at the Royal Ball, which depicts hundreds of women wearing Pimped Out Dresses, yet all of the other blue ones are significantly darker or less saturated than Ella's. The only other time Ella's blue appears is on the uniforms of the Royal Guard as they search the kingdom for whoever can wear the glass slipper.
  • Lighter and Softer: Compared to Disney's previous live-action adaptations. In fact, compared to almost the entire Disney canon. This is the rare Disney film in which not a single character attempts to kill or seriously harm another at any point.
  • Lizard Folk: The lizards transformed into footmen by the fairy godmother retain a number of reptilian traits (such as long tongues).
  • Logo Joke: The Disney logo changes from the usual nighttime to daytime as two blue birds swoop in to change the scene to the movie proper. As you would expect, the castle's coloring is closer to the Cinderella Castle than the Sleeping Beauty Castle.
  • Loose Floorboard Hiding Spot: Ella keeps a box of mementos underneath the floor of the attic in which she sleeps. She hides the glass slipper there after the ball.
  • The Lost Lenore: Lady Tremaine tells Ella that her first husband was "the light of her life." Since then, though, she's given in to her despair. Ella's mother also remains her father's Lost Lenore even after he marries Lady Tremaine, which embitters the latter even more.
  • Lovable Lizard: The Lizards are very kind and helpful with Cinderella. Mr. Lizard sweetly encourages her as she's about to enter
  • Love at First Sight: Unlike the animated film, Ella and the Prince meet each other a few days before the ball, though neither of them know who the other is. They are undeniably smitten after that first encounter, but the ball clearly strengthens those feelings.
  • Low Fantasy: Despite taking place in a world filled with somewhat sentient animals and Fairy Godmothers, more emphasis is placed on the human characters. It could have passed for a decent period piece if not for the various fairy tale tropes that crop up from time to time.
  • Malicious Misnaming: "Cinderella", of course. The stepsisters test out some other names before it, like "Cinderwench" and "Dirty Ella".
  • Manly Tears: Ella's father has tears in his eyes at his wife's deathbed, and Kit weeps at his father's deathbed.
  • Meet Cute: Ella and Prince Kit first meet while he stops her horse from going wild. They have a witty banter about the stag he was hunting.
    Kit: I must confess I've never met him before. He is a friend of yours?
    Ella: An acquaintance. We met just now. He looked into my eyes and I could tell he had a great deal left to do with his life.
  • A Minor Kidroduction: The film opens when Ella is five and both her parents were still around.
  • Mood Whiplash: It's a bit jarring to see the Fairy Godmother goofing around and being ditzy a few moments after Tremaine rips Ella's dress and nearly break her.
  • Morphic Resonance: The animals the Fairy Godmother transforms into humans all retain some animal-like attributes (green skin and pointy teeth on the lizards, for example), with their clothing also reflecting said animal's colours.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The scene with the stag was based on a deleted scene from the original film, although in that scene, the stag was friends with the prince and never actually in any danger. Another planned sequence would have involved the prince disguising himself as one of the Romani ...and Kit also seems to enjoy disguises.
    • Drisella is still a terrible singer.
    • Ella's asks her father to bring her back a branch as a present. In the Brothers Grimm version, Ella planted it on her mother's grave and it grew into a tree that provided her the dress for the ball.
    • Cinderella says that she's never been painted. That's not entirely accurate...
  • Named by the Adaptation:
  • Narrator All Along: Uniquely revealed only halfway through the movie. Helena Bonham Carter narrates the introduction, but it's then revealed that she is actually the Fairy Godmother.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain:
    • The Captain is ready to give up on searching for Cinderella and bypass the Tremaine home, but the Grand Duke insists they stop there. Had the Duke followed the Captain's lead, he could have credibly claimed to have searched everywhere and failed to find the Prince's love. (Though with the King in tow, disguised, it's questionable whether the party would've actually been allowed to pass the house or whether the Duke would later have gotten away with fulfilling his promise to "spare no effort."
    • As Ella is being brought downstairs, her stepmother sneers at her to "remember who you are." She means it snidely, but it helps push Ella to do precisely that, to wondrous effect.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Master Phineas the painter looks like Salvador Dali!
  • Not His Sled: The twist in the animated Disney film was that Lady Tremaine breaks the glass slipper Cinderella lost (seemingly preventing her from trying it on) only for Cinderella to reveal that she has the other slipper — confirming her to be the right girl. In this, however, Lady Tremaine finds the un-lost slipper in Ella's belongings and breaks it, and Ella ends up trying on the one the Prince still has (although he recognized her anyway). The prince is also present when Ella tries the slipper on.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: The narration points out that, like Ella, Lady Tremaine has gone through emotional trauma; unlike Ella, however, she let the experiences change her, eradicating any redeeming qualities that she had. It's implied that part of her desire to make Ella's life a living hell stems from how she can't stand Ella's ability to be kind in spite of all the latter has been through.
  • Old Beggar Test: The Fairy Godmother first appears as an old beggar woman before a miserable Ella. When Ella proves her kindness by providing her food and drink, the Fairy Godmother unveils her true form and power, sending Ella off to the ball in short order.
  • The Oner: While Ella and Kit are dancing at the ball, the camera continuously pans in on the scene.
  • Overly-Long Tongue: The lizard footmen have these, as shown when one uses said tongue to catch a fly while waiting for Cinderella.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Averted. Ella brings up that her step-family will see her so in a Hand Wave the Godmother makes it so the family won't recognize her (although Kit still does). And then Lady Tremaine figures out it's her, anyway.
  • Parental Abandonment: Ella's mother dies while her daughter is a young girl. Her father later leaves for a long trip, and dies shortly after.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: Cinderella gets a grand one for the ball, as well as the many grand dresses also worn there. Even the Fairy Godmother also gets one — in contrast to her rather simple blue cloak in the animated Disney film. The first dress Ella wants to wear to the ball is considerably much grander than it was in the animated incarnation — which was an old dress with alterations made from the stepsisters' old cast-offs.
  • Prince Charming: Kit, the kind, noble prince Ella instantly falls in love with, is a rare example in a modern film played straight. Though he must learn how to be a competent ruler once his father dies and does end the story as a king.
  • Princesses Rule: Implied to be the case with Princess Chelina, as Zaragoza was historically a principality and the fact that her parents are never mentioned.
  • Promoted to Love Interest: Jaq's female counterpart here is Jacqueline, the mother of a mice family, with Gus Gus as the father.
  • Protagonist Title: Like the original film, the remake is named after the titular character.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: The folk song "Lavender's Blue" features heavily in the film, including being the soundtrack to Ella's Grand Staircase Entrance at the ball and the song she sings when she's trapped upstairs.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: Disney got accused of digitally altering Cinderella's waist. According to Lily James it was a combination of her wearing a corset, the voluminous skirt making the waist seem small by comparison, and her waist being naturally small in the first place.
  • Reconstruction:
    • The film reconstructs Disney's own animated version by playing the story straight — but addressing any issues people might have with the original; Cinderella's role as The Pollyanna is born out of a desire to follow her late mother's wishes to be good to everyone, the Wicked Stepmother is given an excuse for her abuse, the lovers get to have actual conversations and get to know each other, the quest to try on the slipper is lampshaded repeatedly, and the Fairy Godmother is given a reason to help the girl.
    • The film as a whole reconstructs the Prince Charming character. Since the '90s, parodies and subversions of this character spawned their own trope. Kit here is indeed an actual Prince Charming — but with character growth and development.
    • The King was given more depth than his animated counterpart. In the animation, he was The Caligula and Plucky Comic Relief, wanting his son to get married because of his obsession with really wanting grandkids. In this film, it's established that their Kingdom is actually a small nation and he's invested in his son getting married to a Foreign Princess both for the good of the kingdom and his own peace of mind knowing that there will be someone to take care of Kit when he's no longer around.
  • Redhead In Green: The redheaded Lady Tremaine typically dresses in shades of green to match her envious personality, with the exception of the scene where she meets with the Duke.
  • Required Secondary Powers: Lampshaded by the Fairy Godmother. Glass isn't exactly soft on the feet, so she magically made the glass slippers comfy, too.
  • The Resenter: Implied rather subtly with Lady Tremaine's Motive Rant. She reveals that she once married for love but was then left a widow with children and in debt. She implies that she despises the fact that Cinderella was not broken by grief like she was.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Ella transforms from scullery maid into Princess Classic, and her dress has butterfly ornaments on it — symbolising a caterpillar's transformation into a butterfly.
  • Sacred Hospitality: When Cinderella is at her lowest, she's still ready to find a bowl of milk for the poor beggar-woman who turns up at her garden gate. That beggar turns out to be her fairy godmother.
  • Secret Test of Character: The Fairy Godmother first appears to Ella as an old beggar woman, she doesn't reveal her true self until after Ella has shown her kindness by getting her a drink even while she was miserable from not being allowed to go to the ball.
  • Self-Soothing Song: Ella sings "Lavender's Blue" to herself, the song her parents used to sing to her, after coming to terms with giving up her chance to be with Kit in order to protect him from her stepmother. This ends up being what secures her happy ending, since her mouse friends open the window so Kit, on the ground below, hears her singing and knows she is in the attic.
  • Shadow Archetype: Lady Tremaine is what Ella would become if she didn't hold on to her positive attitude. The former resents her for this.
  • Shout-Out:
    • There are a couple of these to the Beauty and the Beast fairytale. Firstly, the Fairy Godmother doesn't appear until Cinderella has helped her, via a Secret Test of Character. Secondly, when Cinderella's father goes away on business, the two stepdaughters ask for superficial gifts while Ella asks for a plant — as Beauty's sisters ask for gowns and jewels, while Beauty asks for a rose.
    • Another Disney themed one would be during Ella's Dance of Romance with Kit a dancing couple behind them consists of a woman in a gold dress and a man in a navy blue suit. Given that this takes place during a ball it seems appropriate.
    • There are several sequences here that come from scrapped scenes from the Disney animated version. The most notable are the scene with the prince hunting a stag and Cinderella giggling as she overhears her stepfamily talking about the girl at the ball.
    • The king and the duke want Prince Kit to marry Princess Chelina of Zaragoza. In two other Cinderella remakes, The Slipper and the Rose and Ever After, the royal family tries to marry off the Prince to a foreign princess, and in The Slipper and the Rose the motive is the same: to create an alliance that will protect the kingdom from war.
    • The mice outrunning the pumpkin is, naturally, yet another reference to Raiders of the Lost Ark.
    • The prince's name is Kit, which is a common nickname for Christopher... Rupert Windemere Vladimir Carl Alexander Francois Reginald Lancelot Herman Gregory James.
    • The Fairy Godmother asking if they have a watermelon is a reference to the 1977 version of Cinderella, where the "Fairy" Godmother makes Cinderella's coach out of a watermelon.
    • The Fairy Godmother's Secret Test of Character for Cinderella also appears in two earlier adaptations of the tale: Gioachino Rossini's 1817 opera La Cenerentola and Prokofiev's 1945 ballet. Rossini's opera also features the plot points of the king's death, the prince disguised as one of his men, and the prince assuming the throne once he marries.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!:
    • The Captain delivers one after Lady Tremaine objects to him bringing Ella to meet the Prince. Being the Captain of the Guard following a royal decree, he immediately shuts her down.
      Captain: Who are you to stop an officer of the king? Are you an empress? A saint? A deity?
    • When Lady Tremaine tries to invoke her role as Cinderella's mother, Ella tops it with one of her own:
      Ella: You have never been, and you never will be my mother.
  • Silly Rabbit, Cynicism Is for Losers!: A key divide between Ella and her stepmother is that Tremaine has grown bitter after spending years unloved and poor while Ella has kept herself hopeful. Because of this, Tremaine resents Ella even more for not breaking like she has, and keeps abusing her in hopes that the young woman will crack, too. Then when interrogating Ella about her glass slipper, she cannot believe that it was just given to her when Tremaine has had to pay and bargain for everything. The idea that Ella's idealism would be rewarded is unthinkable to her, and in her Motive Rant she suggests it's unfair that Ella would just receive a happily ever after with what looks like no effort to Tremaine, while her own hard work would come to nothing.
  • Simple, yet Opulent: Cinderella's ballgown is stunning in both its beauty and simplicity. Her outfit has very little accessories beyond the slippers and crystals in her hair. The dress is simply decorated with fake butterflys scattered around but the rich bright blue, thousands of crystals sewn in and layers of fabric make for a gorgeous dress. It's also notable when contrasted among the other outfits which have heavy jewelry and elaborate embroidery and everyone is heavily accessorized.
  • Skewed Priorities: When Ella and her stepfamily receive the news of her father's death, Anastasia and Drisella's only concern is that now they won't be getting the lace and parasol they asked him to bring home.
  • Slave to PR: Briefly touched upon: the King and Duke want the people to be happy, and are well aware that a small kingdom like theirs is at a disadvantage compared to other nations. They agree to go along with Kit's idea of inviting commoners to the ball as a small PR boost, though they still encourage him to marry a princess.
  • Sliding Scale of Anthropomorphism: Unlike the animated film, Ella's mice friends aren't anthropomorphic and don't wear clothes, but are just very friendly critters with unusual intelligence, body language, and speak with high-pitched and sped up voices.
  • Smelly Feet Gag: During the quest to find a maiden who can wear the glass slipper, the Royal Guards prepare to administer the test to an overweight baker-woman. She sits up on a counter, takes off her shoe, and four guards immediately collapse from the smell.
    "It's the yeast."
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Ella's father is of the "died later than in the source material" type; in the animated film, he dies while Ella, Anastasia and Drizella are still children. Here, he lives into Ella's young adulthood and dies shortly before the main events of the film take place.
  • Spirited Young Lady: Lady Tremaine is hinted to have once been this. She certainly starts out this trope when Ella's father was still alive, as she's constantly throwing parties that she's the life of, and she's strong-willed and extroverted.
  • Stating the Simple Solution: When Ella is asked why she doesn't just leave the Tremaines and move away, she states that she can't because she cares for the house her family has owned for 200 years and doesn't want to see them practically destroy it.
  • Symbol Motif Clothing: Cinderella's ball gown has butterfly designs on the neckline, and on the toes of her glass slippers.
  • The Paragon: Cinderella is this. Also her biological parents are this as well.
  • They Call Me MISTER Tibbs!: Lady Tremaine takes on shades of this trope:
    Ella: Yes, stepmother.
    Lady Tremaine: Oh, you needn't call me that. "Madam" will do.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Ella's mother is a kind and saintly woman... who, of course, dies tragically of an undisclosed illness.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Lady Tremaine wasn't necessarily nice to Ella to begin with, but after the poor girl's father dies during a business trip, that's when the double-widow really starts getting nasty.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The second trailer reveals that Lady Tremaine finds and breaks the slipper still with Ella before she can use it to prove who she is.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Ella goes through a particularly harsh one of these. First her mother dies when she's only a child. Then years later her father re-marries, only for it to turn out that her new step-family are absolutely horrible people, who make Ella move into the attic after she selflessly offered for Anastasia and Drisella to share her room with her. Then her father leaves for a long trip, only for him to die, too. THEN Lady Tremaine is only concerned about the financial aspects of her husband's death, fires all the staff at the country house, then makes Ella their servant and they all constantly bully her. Then the one thing that Ella gets excited about, the ball, is dashed after her stepmother forbids her to go and cruelly ruins her mother's dress. It's amazing that the poor girl didn't reach the Break the Cutie stage much sooner than she did.
  • True Blue Femininity: Ella mostly wears blue and her ball gown in this adaptation is blue too, rather than silver like in the animated film. Most likely because it's blue in the Disney Princess merchandise. Could also be to distinguish it from the Fairy Godmother's silvery-white dress (which amusingly was blue in the animated film).
  • Understatement: Ella's father mentions that Lady Tremaine and her daughters "may be a bit trying at times". He'd be turning in his grave if he ever learned what Lady Tremaine got up to towards his daughter after he carked it.
  • Universally Beloved Leader: According to the narration Ella and Kit become the kingdom's most beloved monarchs, evidenced by the adoring crowds who come out to greet them when she is presented as their new queen.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: Lady Tremaine is constantly looking for ways to provide for her daughters and ends up playing a mean game of this. First husband dies? Marry a second time to provide for them. Second husband dies? Have one of her daughters marry the prince. Prince is attracted to her daughter by marriage? Bargain with Ella to marry her to the prince and be made head of the household. Ella refuses? Blackmail the Grand Duke into securing advantageous marriages for her daughters.
  • Victorian Novel Disease: Ella's mother is seemingly dying of an illness but still looks beautiful, if a little thin.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Lady Tremaine has a rather subdued one: when her efforts to keep Ella away from Kit fail, she can only watch in silence as Ella walks away towards her happy ending. Just to rub it in, Ella tells Tremaine that she forgives her for her actions. The woman is clearly dumbfounded that Ella was able to retain her happiness and kindness despite experiencing great sorrow, something the narration earlier said Lady Tremaine was incapable of.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Grand Duke, who isn't being mean just for the sake of it — unlike Lady Tremaine — but believes his scheme to be for the good of the kingdom.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: The kingdom's location is never given; however, it is clearly set in the real world, as various globes and maps can be seen around Ella's house. Influence was drawn from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and France is also nearby, or at the very least Ella is fluent in French.
  • Wicked Stepmother: You'd better believe it, but this version implies that Lady Tremaine may have been willing to play happy families — until she realized that her new husband still preferred his old wife, despite Tremaine acknowledging that she likewise preferred her first husband. So when her second husband bites it she starts heaping abuse upon her stepdaughter.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: Early in the film, the King is shown being examined by a doctor and judging by the doctor's reluctance to speak about what ails the King, it's clear that the King doesn't have long to live. Shortly after the ball, the King dies.
    The King: If it takes that long to say it, I already know.
    Kit: Father...
    The King: Way of all flesh, boy.


Video Example(s):


Cinderella at the Ball

Cinderella descends down the staircase and stuns the attendees, including the prince.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (10 votes)

Example of:

Main / GrandStaircaseEntrance

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