On Saturday, me and the girls were treated to a special invite from Walt Disney World public relations to have breakfast and enjoy a screening of Cinderella.
OBVIOUSLY we cleared our schedules and put on our sparkliest shoes for the grand affair.
Honestly, my girls had been chomping at the bit to see this movie for months. MONTHS.
Enter my 6-year-old’s struggle to grasp time (read: “Can we do yesterday the thing we talked about the day before tomorrow?”) and I’ve struggled to explain just how many days we have left before we can see the movie and if that’s a short time or a long time, for what felt like an eternity.
We were delighted to have breakfast before the showing and to even be announced like princesses at a ball by a guardsman in full costume (#DisneyNeverDisappoints) but again I faced the time-space continuum question:
“When are we seeing the movie? Is that a long time from now? Is 15 minutes long or short? Is it NOW?”
At long last, we were invited to enter the theater and lo and behold, we had forgotten, through all the buzz, about Frozen Fever! Did you forget about that gem before the movie?
Enter again the question of time:
“Mommy, why was that movie so SHORT? Where is the REST?”
Clear theme emerging here….we can’t see Cinderella fast enough and we can’t ever get enough of Anna, Elsa and Olaf.
At long last, the much anticipated movie began and we settled quietly into our seats. By now, you’ve surely seen the previews, so you know the theme of courage and kindness is central to the movie. In fact, it is done so artfully and so consistently throughout the movie that I really can’t get Cinderella’s mother’s dying words out of my head “Have courage, be kind,” and my kids keep mentioning it as well.
Overall I thought the movie offers a launching point for many different kinds of conversations with your kids. It tackles death, bullying, confidence, kindness, magic and believing in the good around you, and of course, true love. These are not light topics and honestly, I think this is a movie best suited for mature 5-year-olds and up. There are animals but not the fluffy, animated kind you’re used too from the animated version. There are villains and honestly, Cate Blanchett is among the best sort of villain you could find, but she’s also so good at being awful that she’s just plain awful (#deep).
Admittedly Cinderella has never been one of my favorite princesses and I found myself struggling with just how long it took her to find her voice and stick up for herself. Eventually it happens and when she finally tells Lady Tremaine that she’s not her mother and she never was, I almost soared out of my seat and shouted in encouragement. Seriously. The flip side is, it gave me a great launching point for a discussion about confidence and speaking up, with my older daughter.
Now, about the death in the movie. Please note that I am someone who generally doesn’t like emotions but I cried multiple times during the movie. Dealing with three parents dying on three separate occasions is a lot, even for the hard hearts among us, like moi. My 6-year-old wasn’t phased by those events, clearly she’s too young to really grasp it. My 9-year-old was moved to “almost tears,” she told me when we were driving home, while I was digging for tissues regularly.
In terms of Cinderella and her voice, while it feels like it takes an eternity for her to speak up to her stepmother, she does use her voice and articulate what she thinks to the Prince from the very beginning. We are given more of a glimpse into their relationship than we’ve ever seen before (did they even exchange words in the animated version?) and her strength of character and belief system is partly what draws him to her, at first. Of course, the other reason is clearly her beauty and her 3-inch-waist, which I definitely found alarming in the ball scene. I know we’re meant to be swept up in the beauty of the gowns and the dancing, along with the Prince’s charm oozing as he says “Believe me, they’re all looking at you,” but I was busily calculating if she has more than an 18-inch-waist and if my daughter were older, would I actually initiate a conversation with her about it.
When I wasn’t caught up in the story, I was totally consumed by the set design, specifically the swan chandelier in Cinderella’s foyer, the wallpaper and paint colors in the house, specifically the grape tones in her stepsister’s room (which she easily abandoned as her own room in the beginning of the movie) and the costumes of her stepsisters. The colors, design and detail were just incredible.
Overall, we really enjoyed the movie. My oldest, in particular, was completely smitten. I’m left wondering if there needed to be so much death and if she couldn’t have stood up for herself sooner, but as I said, this movie absolutely gives you a launching point for several different kinds of “Teachable moment” conversations with your kids. And in the end, despite the sadness and the horrible bullying of Cinderella, the theme of courage and kindness is woven consistently throughout the movie and is an important message that even the youngest theater-goer can’t miss.
Have courage, be kind.