First Still From Kenneth Branagh’s ‘Cinderella’ Sticks Close to Disney’s Classic Look


Disney, as a company, is one of the best that’s ever existed when it comes to matters of marketing and branding. Everyone knows the Disney logo, everyone knows the silhouette of Mickey Mouse’s ears, and, thanks to the merchandising and advertising blitz that’s taken place over the last couple decades, pretty much every little girl you’ve ever met can instantly deduce which Disney Princess they’re looking at just with a quick glimpse at the color of her hair and the dress she’s wearing.

Because of this, it was kind of interesting to speculate what the new Lily James-starring, Kenneth Branagh-directed live action remake of Cinderella was going to look like. Disney hasn’t ever really done a live action feature of one of their iconic cartoon properties yet. Would Branagh be under strict restrictions to follow the visual template laid out by the company’s animated classic? Or would such a respected director have more freedom to offer up his own visual and narrative interpretation of the Cinderella story? Well, Disney put out a press release about Cinderella along with the first still taken during the film’s shooting today [via /Film], and from the looks of things it seems like they’re going to be sticking pretty closely to the Cinderella everyone knows and loves.

First we have the still, which gives us an image of James riding a horse, all done up in the Disney Cinderella’s iconic blonde hair and blue dress. She makes for a stunning though familiar put-upon princess, indeed.


Then we have the press release, which includes comments from Branagh about what he was going for when making a new version of Cinderella that would still be decidedly Disney. The director said, “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.”

For those who somehow don’t yet know the story of Cinderella, or are wondering how closely this film’s story is going to stick to the tale as Disney has already told it, they also offered up a plot synopsis for the new film that states, “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.”

So, from everything we’ve been shown today, it seems like the Kenneth Branagh Cinderella is going to look very similarly to the animated Cinderella once it gets its March 13, 2015 release. Except, you know, it’s going to feature a flesh and blood princess who’s likely going to capture the attention of the dads in the audience much more than the original pencil drawn one ever did. That is one handsome princess.

Weaned on the genre films of the 80s. Reared by the independent movement of the 90s. Earned a BA for writing stuff in the 00s. Reviews current releases at

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