MOVIE REVIEW | Mark Hadley
Tuesday 14 April 2015
Cinderella, the classic Disney tale, returns to the cinemas 65 years after the Grimms’ fairy tale was first animated for the big screen. Today’s 21st century live-action script has all the usual nods to 21st century morals we’ve come to expect. However there’s also a very welcome piece of wisdom from first century Palestine.
Lily James, the new Cinderella, is backed by a galaxy of stars – Cate Blanchett as the evil stepmother, Helena Bonham Carter as the Fairy Godmother, Derek Jacobi as the king, Richard Madden as his eligible son… the list goes on. The story is very much by the book, with everything little and bigger girls will love – dresses, dances, cute animal pets, spangly wands and dashing princes. More like the Grimms’ original, though, the ugliness of Blanchett’s evil stepmother and her two daughters is a largely internal thing. It’s their characters that really shame them, not their looks, and this is a welcome change from the more literal ugly-people-are-bad-people approach of recent times. But does the film have any updated views on how the world works?
The best piece of advice is actually something every Christian will be able to get behind. On her death bed, Ella’s mother gives her a piece of wisdom that will shape her every action, particularly during the hard times:
“I am going to tell you a secret that will see you through all trials: have courage and be kind. You have more kindness in your little finger than most people have in their whole lives – and it has power.”
This might sound like wishful thinking to modern ears more used to hearing heroines who fight for their rights. However this kindness with courage, this strength tempered by service will be more familiar to Bible readers. In a word, it’s the quality Jesus referred to as meekness.
Meekness is strength in control. Our saviour sat on a hillside in Galilee and told his impoverished audience that no one would inherit the earth by fighting to get what was owed to them. Instead, those who faced the burdens God gave them with courage and put their power at His service would one day see that they were blessed. It was as hard to believe then as it is now. Like Cinderella, it takes a great deal of strength to face hardship with courage and kindness. Yet Jesus said those who do so in God’s name will discover our Creator has a world of blessings set aside for His children.
Today meekness has unfortunately become a synonym for weakness, but it would be good if Cinderella went a little way to helping our children rediscover the word. A nation of ‘Ellas’ who refused to use their strength to take revenge or advance themselves, but instead put their best into whatever they were called to do, wherever they were, would look a lot more like a nation after God’s own heart. More importantly, if we can teach little girls to recognise and value meekness, there’s more hope they will recognise the greatest prince of all – whose meekness took him all the way to the cross in the service of those He loved.