Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway
Shakespearean Maestro Kenneth Branagh directs this colorful and vivacious adaptation of the fairy tale classic "Cinderella" with spirit and charm.
This is a live action Disney tale par excellence.
Lily James (Downton Abbey) is our heroine under great claustrophobic hardship and abuse by The Wicked Stepmother (Cate Blanchett) and her two daughters Drizilla (Sophie McShera ) and Anastasia ( Holliday Grainger ). With chaos, confusion and a fair amount of plain nastiness, these ladies make a gruesome threesome. Their wardrobe alone throws your eye into a feverish arabesque almost like the spiraling titles in Hitchcock's "Vertigo"
Branagh to his credit, shows a set of Grimm's teeth here, his direction has style as well as substance with a sophistication that is both mature and reckless. He shows the epic qualities of the story and refuses to cut it down to size to fit pint sized audiences.
This is Disney, hallucinogenic-ally altered by the likes of Roald Dahl.
Ella is no watered down or wilting flower here. Rather like a superhero or a 21st Century Dorothy from Oz, Ella has vision and is hyper-aware of what it takes to achieve it. She has two words bonded within her as auditory thread: kindness and courage.
Meanwhile The Stepmother hovers above her, glacial and emerald green, her costume causing her to twist and bend becoming a malevolent genie born from creme de menthe.
One evil elixir.
In showing Blanchett in all her icy glamour, Branagh is also borrowing from the directors of the 1950s: Douglas Sirk and Billy Wilder.
Above all else, however, "Cinderella" brims with an almost pagan view of the natural world, where everything is frothing, pulsing, shooting and fermenting. All things are inclusive with verbal communication and there is no separation between human and animal. The whole of nature can speak. Mice and rats fret, a goose becomes a chauffeur and lizards become footmen, while never forgetting their reptilian or avian origins.
"Cinderella" excels in its vista, very much akin to a kaleidoscope in showing all things in their universal oneness, dizzyingly portraying all elements both between and beyond realms.
In one festival scene alone there were princesses from at least 500 territories or countries.
While it is true that Prince Charming (Richard Madden) is glitzy and paper thin, the kitsch (his name is Kitt, after all) becomes part of the joke and the fun.
The first part of the tale is a throwback to 1950s Technicolor, the second creates a Bollywood bombshell with animals aplenty and sentient gourds.
"Cinderella" has a genuine sense of reality and place, despite its raging dazzle. In its illustration of wonder as a tangible thing to be used for either good or gruesomeness, it has belief at its core and clearly outdoes, yet also compliments the previous "Maleficent".
Write Ian at firstname.lastname@example.org