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Film Review: Cinderella (2015)

Updated on December 22, 2016


In 2015, Kenneth Branagh released Cinderella, based on the 1697 fairy tale, Cendrillon by Charles Perrault. StarringLily James, Cate Blanchett, Richard Madden, Stellan Skarsgard, Holliday Grainger, Derek Jacobi, Ben Chaplin, Sophie McShera, Sophie Mcshera, Hayley Atwell, and Helena Bonham Carter the film grossed $543.5 million at the box office.


Born to wealthy parents on a beautiful estate, Ella’s mother dies after making her promise to always have courage and be kind. Years later, her father marries Lady Tremaine, but goes abroad on business and dies as well. Desperate for money, Tremaine dismisses the servants and forces Ella to do all the work. However, everything changes once she meets an apprentice while riding in the forest…


Though there are some notable divergences, Cinderella is not too different from the tale it's adapted from. The film’s story is essentially the same plot to the Cinderella that audiences all know and love. Cinderella is mistreated by her stepmother and stepsisters but thanks to some magic, she’s able to go to a royal ball, meet her prince, fall in love and get separated only for him to find her by using the shoe she left behind. Still, the similarities only go so far in this film as both Cinderella and the prince have to work to get their happy ending. The prince is also given the name of Kit. There’s also how Cinderella has to overcome the sadism of her stepmother and find a way to make it known that she’s who the prince is searching for and at the same time, Kit has to convince his court that his choice of true love over taking political ties is the right way to go. When his grand duke, who’s an antagonist in this film, tries to pull a fast one and attempt to make the arranged marriage go through, he uses what power he has to force the grand duke carry out his orders. It shows that the two of them want and love each other so much that they’ll both go through hell and back to get each other, rather than just Cinderella overcoming adversity.

Those aren’t the only changes either as Cinderella and Kit first meet in the woods, which is a fascinating idea. It helps establish a connection early on rather than the love at first sight trope when she goes to the ball and he just spends all night dancing with her. Having them meet prior, liking each other and spending all night with each other makes it feel more natural.

Jacque is now also Jacqueline and Cinderella doesn’t always take the abuse as stoically as possible. Here, she’s shown to be clearly affected by the mistreatment, but tries to make the best of her situation. What this does is make her seem more human and relatable. Further, right before she meets the fairy Godmother, she essentially gives up on being positive. This is also pretty realistic as anyone taking that much abuse would do so. Cinderella’s not perfect and the audience doesn’t expect her to be.

Speaking of the fairy Godmother, interestingly in this film, she’s played by Bonham-Carter in an uncharacteristically benevolent role. She's given an intriguing interpretation in that while she has a lot of the wisdom of the original, It plays out as if she's wise, but also ditzy with not everything she does being perfect. This can be seen when she transforms the pumpkin in the greenhouse.

This film presents a lot of the backstory that the original animated film never touched on too. It shows just what happened to her mother and why her father isn’t around. All this is interesting because it gives audiences a way to see and understand how the main plot arrived to when Cinderella is supposed to be Tremaine’s stepdaughter, but made to do all the chores around the house. In addition, it attempts to give Tremaine a Freudian excuse as to why she’s evil, but unfortunately, it doesn’t go far enough and feels tacked on.

4 stars for Cinderella (2015)

the postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent WNI's positions, strategies or opinions.

Awards won

Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films Saturn Awards

  • Best Fantasy Film

Capri Awards

  • Best Costume

Heartland Film Awards

  • Truly Moving Picture Award

Hollywood Makeup Artist and Hair Stylist Guild Awards

  • Best Period and/or Character Hair Styling - Feature Motion Picture

Las Vegas Film Critics Society Sierra Awards

  • Best Family Film

Online Film & Television Association Awards

  • Best Costume Design

Women Film Critics Circle Awards

  • Mommie Dearest Worst Screen Mom of the Year Award (Cate Blanchett)

Nominated for

Academy Awards

  • Best Achievement in Costume Design

BAFTA Awards

  • Best Costume Design

Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films Saturn Awards

  • Best Costume Design

Art Directors Guild Awards

  • Excellence in Production Design - Fantasy Film

Awards Circuit Community Awards

  • Best Costume Design

Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards

  • Best Costume Design

Central Ohio Film Critics Association

  • Actor of the Year (Cate Blanchett)

Costume Designers Guild Awards

  • Excellence in Fantasy Film

Empire Awards

  • Best Costume Design

Gold Derby Awards

  • Costume Design

Hollywood Makeup Artist and Hair Stylist Guild Awards

  • Best Period and/or Character Makeup - Feature Motion Picture

Hollywood Music in Media Awards

  • Best Original Score - Sci-Fi/Fantasy Film

International Film Music Critics Awards

  • Film Score of the Year
  • Best Original Score for a Fantasy/Science Fiction/Horror Film

Italian Online Movie Awards

  • Best Art Direction
  • Best Costume Design

Kids' Choice Blimp Awards

  • Favorite Movie Actress (Lily James)
  • Favorite Movie

London Critics Circle Film Awards

  • Technical Achievement of the Year

People's Choice Awards

  • Favorite Family Movie

Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards

  • Best Costume Design

Satellite Awards

  • Best Art Direction & Production Design
  • Best Costume Design

Seattle Film Critics Awards

  • Best Costume Design

St. Louis Film Critics Association Awards

  • Best Art Direction

Teen Choice Awards

  • Choice Movie: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
  • Choice Movie Actress: Sci-Fi/Fantasy (Lily James)

Washington DC Area Film Critics Association Awards

  • Best Production Design

World Soundtrack Awards

  • Best Original Film Score of the Year


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    • Film Frenzy profile image

      Jason Wheeler 2 years ago from Prescott Valley

      The animated film? yeah, there's differences, but I like both of them in their own special ways. The animated film is one of my favorite animated Disney films.

    • Allagesvacations profile image

      Wendy 2 years ago from Leicestershire

      This has come along way from the Cinderella I knew when I was I child.