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  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Drizella either really believes Cinderella spoke Italian or makes it up so she won't have to admit she didn't understand what Ella spoke in French.
    • The Princess Chelina has only a couple of lines and not much character focus. Her "little kingdom" comment implies she's something of a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing. However, she doesn't seem to mind when Kit opts to dance with Ella, and when she asks who the girl is, she merely sounds pleasantly curious (as opposed to envious). It's entirely up in the air how aware she is of the Duke trying to manipulate Kit into marrying her.
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    • Anastasia and Drizella apologized to Cinderella at the end. Whether they were genuinely sorry for how they treated her or they only did it because they finally saw how Cinderella had gotten with the Prince at the end and were afraid of potential retribution from her is up in the air.
    • How much abuse Ella's father could have spared his daughter by leaving a will favoring her is up for debate. If he had consulted his solicitor about proper estate planning, he might have been able to see to Ella's care, rather than leave her to the mercy of her stepmother. However, inheritance laws at the time were very unfair to daughters (since it was assumed that they would be take care of by their husbands), but wives could inherit their husband's estate in some areas. With that in mind, there might have been little-to-nothing he could have done about it.
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    • Some - notably Doug Walker - see Ella in this as more of an Extreme Doormat than the animated version. Ilene Woods' Cinderella definitely wants a better life, whereas Lily James' Ella seems numb to all the abuse that's going on around her. This is brought on by a change in the story - where the animated Cinderella had been abused ever since she was a child, and the live-action made it to young adulthood before losing her father.
    • In one scene, Ella is asked why she stays there when she's mistreated, and Ella's answer is she stays to keep her parents' spirits alive. In other words, the dialogue implies Ella is willingly putting up with the abuse and could leave any time she wants, whereas Disney's Cinderella implies no such thing. In the scene where Lady Tremaine offers an ultimatum to her, Ella says "I've tried to be kind to you" - which suggests that Ella pities her stepmother for the loss of her husbands and is staying in a vain attempt at trying to change her.
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  • Author's Saving Throw: This film makes a few alterations in response to criticisms of the original film. For example, Ella and the Prince have more of a personality now, he has an actual name, and he and Ella meet each other well before the ball. And the Prince's hidden presence in the search party ensures that Cinderella is found. And that's not all...Lady Tremaine is actually punished in the end, albeit by her own design...she moves herself and her daughters out of the kingdom because she cannot bear to live in the same vicinity as Cinderella. Her defeat has utterly broken her.
  • Award Snub: There was some buzz about Lily James getting a potential Best Actress nomination at the Oscars. Ultimately the only nomination the film got was for its costumes.
  • Base-Breaking Character: Ella herself. Some argue that she's an improvement over her original counterpart, being a more realistic and well-rounded character. Others point out that she is even more passive than the original Cinderella, since she simply takes all of the abuse of her stepfamily and actually waits for someone to save her, while the original at least made an effort to fight back.
  • Broken Base:
    • Some fans are annoyed by it being a live-action remake of the classic film, claiming it's unoriginal and Disney should have adapted the darker Grimm Brothers version. Others are relieved that it's faithful to the classic film (and would point out that Into the Woods contained that darker version anyway), and not a Darker and Edgier remake like Alice in Wonderland (2010) or Maleficent that takes extensive liberties with the plot.
    • The appearance of Nonso Anozie as the Captain, a black aristocrat in a European monarchy era setting, caused a firestorm of criticism regarding "accuracy" by people who were unaware of black aristocrats in European history. While very rare, they still existed.
  • Fashion-Victim Villain:
    • Lady Tremaine's leopard-printed morning gown.
    • The stepsisters as well, taking after their mother. The art book describes their styles as being pleasing if not for a few too bright colors or a few too large ribbons or such.
  • Franchise Original Sin:
    • All the criticisms Beauty and the Beast (2017) got for its Adaptation Expansion and attempting to be meta with the story - as well as answering criticisms of the original - were present in this remake. Except in this case the expansion is done to a character that actually needed it - the prince who was a mere plot device in the original, and Lady Tremaine - whose motivation wasn't quite clear. It probably also helped that Cinderella followed on the heels of the very divisive Maleficent, and was compared more favourably to it. Also the original Cinderella is less beloved than Beauty & the Beast and as the tale is adapted more often (Ever After, Ella Enchanted, Maid in Manhattan etc.) fans can view it as a different interpretation - rather than Beauty & the Beast, which is a straight-up remake of the Disney version.
    • The changes made to Cinderella's character are likewise more a different interpretation of her - she loses her father in adulthood and tries to be friends with her stepfamily - which made her more palatable to some. And even those that don't like the changes can still view them as simply different interpretations. The changes made to Belle were instead viewed as clumsy attempts to make her into a feminist role model - which again was seen as pissing on the legacy of a very beloved character who didn't need to be made into an Adaptational Badass.
  • Genius Bonus:
    • Zaragoza was historically a Spanish "taifa," or principality. This would mean Princess Chelina is a ruler in her own right and likely has a direct role in forcing Kit to marry her. This also gives her a motive, as she would need to marry Kit to become Queen.
    • The choice of making Cinderella's father a merchant rather than a gentleman seems confusing, since the only traditional version where he is not at least some minor noble is the Grimms' version. But then Cinderella asks him for a twig, and she even plants it on her mother's grave just like the Grimms' version.
    • Some of those places the princesses are from sound made-up... right? Actually those were the names of historical states.
    • Ella's family having a guard goose is actually historically accurate. For a long time, the lower class couldn't afford dogs. Geese made a great alternative. Some people still use them as guard animals today.
    • Disney fans might notice the scene with the stag is based on a cut sequence from the original animated film.
    • In the tie-in book "A Wish Your Heart Makes: From the Grimm Brothers' Aschenputtel to Disney's Cinderella.", the creators confirm that Kit becoming a king is a reference to the 1889 translation of Le roi Charmant (The Charming King) from Madame D'aulnoy's The Bluebird, which is where the expression "Prince Charming" comes from.
    • The scene where Kit pushes Ella on a swing, during which her slipper falls off, may be a reference to the painting "The Swing", which was a visual influence on Tangled and was referenced in Frozen.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Lady Tremaine's fate is being banished at the very end. The next big blockbuster Cate Blanchett stars in is Thor: Ragnarok, where her character comes back from being banished for a few hundred years and tries to seize the throne. For added hilarity, "Ragnarok" is the second sequel to a film directed by Kenneth Branagh just like this one.
    • In both their original animated counterparts, the Queen of Hearts and the Fairy Godmother are both voiced and modeled by actress Verna Felton. Similarly, Helena Bonham Carter portrayed Tim Burton's interpretation of the Queen of Hearts before landing the role of the Fairy Godmother.
    • The film at the time got some criticism (see below) for being too similar to its predecessor. Beauty and the Beast (2017), Aladdin (2019) and The Lion King (2019) were even more similar to their animated counterparts to the degree that Cinderella now looks a lot looser by comparison.
  • It's the Same, Now It Sucks!: A criticism made by detractors is that the film is mostly a straight-up remake of the original animated movie. However, some fans prefer this to the film being too different. It's really more a case of personal preference.
  • Jerkass Woobie: In many ways, this interpretation of Lady Tremaine is exactly the criticism people often give the original premise of Cinderella: someone who was initially idealistic gradually broken into cynicism. Many points of the movie are dedicated to showing just how damaged she is, and how much she hates Cinderella for remaining optimistic and cheerful despite suffering her own tragedies. At the very end, her cruel actions are justly retributed upon, but it's hard to not pity her bad luck.
  • Just Here for Godzilla: A ton of people are assumed to attend the movie just to see the "Frozen Fever" short film that comes before it.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • People who want to see the movie jokingly say they'll have the theatre to themselves once the Frozen fans leave when the short is done. Turns out those people are right.
    • Playing or otherwise referencing The Rains of Castamere whenever Kit and Ella are onscreen together has become popular.
    • Likewise when Kit and Ella first meet, she asks "what do they call you?", it's common for Game of Thrones fans to respond "The King in the North!"
  • Moral Event Horizon: The expected moment when Tremaine and her daughters wreak Cinderella's dress (more so for Tremaine than her daughters since here, she actually initiates the action). Made especially strong given how it was her mother's, and how it's the turning point when Tremaine's subtle pettiness turns into more severe cruelty. And then there's the scene later where Tremaine breaks Ella's glass slipper at the end of her Motive Rant. Ella, by that point, can't help but ask why Tremaine is as cruel as she's been. The fact that the latter is the counterpart to Tremaine's animated MEH doesn't help her either.
  • Older Than They Think:
    • "Lavender's Blue" is an actual folk-song, and made an appearance in an earlier Disney film So Dear To My Heart (1948).
    • Several previous adaptations have had Cinderella meet the Prince before the ball, such as the 1965 and 1997 Rodgers and Hammerstein telefilms, the opera La Cenerentola, the modern-day adaptation A Cinderella Story, and the Muppet version, Hey Cinderella!. And of course, the scene with the stag was actually based on a cut scene from the original animated film. One should not forget Ella Enchanted or Ever After either, where almost the entire relationship between the Prince and Ella or Danielle (the Ever After Cinderella) occurs before the ball.
    • This is also not the first Cinderella film to have black characters; the 1997 version went above and beyond just one.
    • Cinderella singing alerting the Captain and the Prince that there is another girl in the house locked in the attic could be a reference to Jetlag's animated version of the story, the Nollywood film version, or possibly Walter de La Mare's version (the line "Has your cat learned to sing?" is similar to his "Has the pump learned English?").
    • Cinderella's actual name being Ella and the "Cinder" being an insulting prefix appears in many adaptations, as well as the original tale. It was in fact the animated version that made Cinderella her natural name.
  • One-Scene Wonder:
    • The Fairy Godmother only physically appears in one scene (she narrates the rest of the movie) but Helena Bonham-Carter steals the show to the end.
    • Likewise the King, who appears in only three scenes. Probably because he's played by the likes of Derek Jacobi.
    • Master Phineas, the painter of the Prince's portrait, has some of the funniest lines in the film despite appearing in one scene.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap:
    • The prince: He was really was just a glorified plot device in the original animated film. The adaptation gives him several significant improvement.
      • He actually has a personality. And his relationship with his dying father here makes him even more of The Woobie than Cinderella for some audiences.
      • He becomes attracted to Cinderella because of reasons other than her looks or apparent wealth.
      • He doesn't spend 3 nights dancing with Cinderella then forgets her face and voice (in several versions of the fairy tale, the step sisters almost pass for Cinderella by cutting part of their foot off to wear the shoe).
    • Cinderella has always been one of the more divisive characters of the Disney Princess line. Prior to this movie, she was frequently derided as being an anti-feminist character. This movie gave her character more depth in the eyes of many film critics and audiences, saying that this movie highlights her as a brave survivor of abuse.
    • The King becomes less of a Designated Hero by removing his Hair-Trigger Temper and having him Face Death with Dignity. He also gets a nice moment with Kit where they talk about Ella.
    • Some (particularly Unshaved Mouse) feel that Lady Tremaine in the original film is a rather mundane villain who just abuses Cinderella for no apparent reason. This version adds more layers to the character, showing her as a Foil for Ella who was once quite like her but suffered too much tragedy to maintain her optimism. It helps that Cate Blanchett captures the perfect blend between making her evil and sympathetic.
  • Uncanny Valley: The mice turning into horses can look comically weird, or really freaky. The end result turns out in the end, but midway through the transformation there are some odd bits, such as horses with really big ears. The lizardmen, however, still look creepy.
  • The Woobie:
    • Ella. She loses her mother, then her father, and is verbally and emotionally abused by her step-family, and it's even said that the reason she goes along with doing all the chores is because doing so keeps her from dwelling on her sadness. She veers close to Iron Woobie as well, especially with her line about her family when she first meets Kit.
    "They treat me as well as they are able."
    • Also, many viewers feel like giving Kit a hug during the scene at his father's deathbed.

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