I love fairytales – and fairytale retellings, which is why I joined the Fairytale Challenge hosted by the awesome Mel of The Daily Prophecy and wrote a post about it. I love the magic, the tradition, the belief that good always wins over evil.
I am quite sick, however, of hearing the same damn story over and over again.
What I’m trying to say is: I saw the new Cinderella movie this week (yay for date night!) and I was so disappointed. I don’t think they’ve added a single new aspect to the story that’s hundreds of years old! It’s the same as the Disney cartoon from the 1950s! I made a list of things that bothered me:
- The music. While I’m sure my husband was happy nobody broke into a spontaneous singing session, the music was sappy and boring.
- The costumes. When I go see a fantasy/fairytale/historical movie, I expect gorgeous dresses. These were mainly confections of glitter and fluff – kitchy and over-the-top “magical”. Also, Cindy spends 80 % of the movie wearing one dress, even before her father’s gone.
- Cinderella. Look, Lily James is one gorgeous young woman. I haven’t watched Downton Abbey but I imagine that given a proper role, she shines like the bright star that she is. Her character in this movie, however, was even more of a simpleton than the 50s incarnation – I wished I could shake her and tell her to burn the stepmother’s toast, at least! She just wept, twirled around with her eyes closed, and kept regurgitating that “courage and kindness” line over and over again. I get it, it’s your personal mantra – but still.
- Kit/Prince Charming. OH MY GOD. Richard Madden has to be the worst Prince Charming in history. I DARE YOU to find a less swoon-worthy prince. Try it. You’ll fail. I adored the guy as Robb Stark, so it’s not that I don’t find him attractive or anything but his wooden one-liners made me want to chuck things at the screen. Instead, I groaned out loud and tried to unsee how orange his skin was. Or how Cindy’s dress at the royal ball matched his baby blue eyes (GAK). Or how… Actually, I just want to unsee his entire performance. Especially that moment where he cries, curled up in fetal position.
Anyway, there were a few redeeming qualities – the lizard footmen, the fairy godmother (Helena Bonham Carter), and even at times Cate Blanchett’s evil stepmother. But these moments were too rare to make me like this movie.
This rant was perhaps the final nudge I needed to write about a related issue: I am tired of reading fairytale retellings that tell the same story. Ok so this might sound nonsensical, but hear me out.
Mel listed several ideas she wants to see in books – and this is what I would love to see, too: stories that take the original tale and twist it into something new, something original.
I am sick and tired of reading about the same patriarchal ideas that the brothers Grimm managed to weave into their collection. I wish for more un-Disney-like stories (I like Disney as much as anyone but my favourite was always Mulan, not Cinderella, for example). I want active, decisive heroines and unusual settings.
I recently read several retellings that differed vastly in this regard (none of these are as bad as the movie Cinderella):
- A Court of Thorns and Roses seemed different at first but in truth, it doesn’t really add anything new to the Beauty and the Beast story. I liked it well enough.
- Cruel Beauty was a book I read almost a year ago and while it definitely had some problems (like instalove), I really liked the twist to the original story.
- Scarlet was a great new find for me! It’s a Robin Hood retelling where Will Scarlet, one of Robin’s faithful companions, is a girl. A cross-dressing girl.
- But Uprooted takes the prize because it is, hands down, the best retelling I’ve read – probably ever. Look for my review next week because it’ll be full of failing and rolling around in glee. Read this book once it’s published, people. Read. It.
To sum this up: I know for a fact that great fairytale retellings exist because I have read them. So I don’t really understand why some people insist on writing/filming stories that bring absolutely nothing new to the game. I wish people would give those millions of dollars to someone who would make Uprooted a movie, for example. If enough people ask for it, maybe our wishes will come true! ;)
Have you seen this Cinderella version? What did you think?
I’d love some good fairytale retelling recommendations!
What story would you like to see twisted and told in a different way?
I’d love to hear from you! :)