Live Action Disney Princess – First Look at Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella

SEAN BAILEY (PRESIDENT, DISNEY LIVE ACTION PRODUCTION)

At a press conference earlier this week, Disney announced that principal photography has begun at Pinewood Studios for its upcoming, live-action Cinderella film, to be directed by Kenneth Branagh.

The Laurence Olivier Awards - Red Carpet ArrivalsStarring in the title role will be Downton Abbey’s Lily James, alongside Game of Thrones’ Richard Madden as her handsome Prince. The film’s star-studded cast will also include the likes of Helena Bonham Carter as the Fairy Godmother, Cate Blanchett as wicked stepmother Lady Tremaine, Derek Jacobi as the King and Stellan Skarsgård as the Grand Arch Duke. Meanwhile Cinderella’s evil stepsisters Anastasia and Drisella will be played by Holliday Grainger (“Great Expectations”, “Anna Karenina”) and Sophie McShera (“Downton Abbey”, “Waterloo Road”) and the Prince’s loyal friend, the Captain, will be played by Nonso Anozie (“Game of Thrones”, “The Grey”).

Judging by the official plot summary below, it seems we can expect a fairly traditional reimagining of the tale, quite unlike the more irreverent fairy-tale retellings to which we’ve grown accustomed in recent years with the release of films such as Snow White and the Huntsman, Mirror Mirror, Red Riding Hood and Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters.

The story of “Cinderella” follows the fortunes of young Ella whose merchant father remarries following the tragic death of her mother. Keen to support her loving father, Ella welcomes her new stepmother Lady Tremaine and her daughters Anastasia and Drisella into the family home. But, when Ella’s father suddenly and unexpectedly passes away, she finds herself at the mercy of a jealous and cruel new family. Finally relegated to nothing more than a servant girl covered in ashes, and spitefully renamed Cinderella, Ella could easily begin to lose hope. Yet, despite the cruelty inflicted upon her, Ella is determined to honor her mother’s dying words and to “have courage and be kind.” She will not give in to despair nor despise those who abuse her. And then there is the dashing stranger she meets in the woods. Unaware that he is really a prince, not merely an employee at the Palace, Ella finally feels she has met a kindred soul. It appears as if her fortunes may be about to change when the Palace sends out an open invitation for all maidens to attend a ball, raising Ella’s hopes of once again encountering the charming “Kit.” Alas, her stepmother forbids her to attend and callously rips apart her dress. But, as in all good fairy tales, help is at hand as a kindly beggar woman steps forward and, armed with a pumpkin and a few mice, changes Cinderella’s life forever.

Cinderella Live actionBranagh himself also emphasised Disney’s iconic vision in his own description of the film, reinforcing the sense that he will not be straying far from that version of the story. On the other hand, Branagh does stress the importance of the principal characters’ wit and intelligence, suggesting that this will be a much more character-driven movie than Disney’s earlier animated film. 

“It is impossible to think of Cinderella without thinking of Disney and the timeless images we’ve all grown up watching. And those classic moments are irresistible to a filmmaker. With Lily James we have found our perfect Cinderella. She combines knockout beauty with intelligence, wit, fun and physical grace. Her Prince is being played by Richard Madden, a young actor with incredible power and charisma. He is funny, smart and sexy and a great match for Cinderella.”

The film’s creative team are certainly well up to the job, boasting an impressive list of credits between them. Its producers are Allison Shearmur (“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”), David Barron (“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”, “Jack Ryan”) and Simon Kinberg (“X-Men: First Class”, “Elysium”), who are developing the movie from a screenplay by Chris Weitz (“About a Boy”, “The Golden Compass”).

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Disney’s Cinderella is due to be released on 13th March 2015.

Sources: The Mary SueSlash Film

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