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Say Hello To Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella

It’s been a while since we heard anything about Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella but today, Disney released their first official image (above) plus a synopsis. Check out what Lily James will be getting up to in the title role after the jump! 

Ok, let’s get the “technical” stuff out of the way first:

Walt Disney Pictures announced today that principal photography has begun at Pinewood Studios in London, on “Cinderella,” Disney’s first-ever live action feature inspired by the classic fairy tale.

Directed by Academy Award®-nominee Kenneth Branagh (“Jack Ryan,” “Thor”), the film stars Lily James (“Downton Abbey,” “Wrath of the Titans”) in the title role, Richard Madden (“Game of Thrones,” “Birdsong”) as the Prince, Oscar®-winner Cate Blanchett (“The Aviator”) as the infamous stepmother Lady Tremaine, and Academy Award-nominee Helena Bonham Carter (“The King’s Speech,” “Alice in Wonderland”) as the Fairy Godmother. Holliday Grainger (“Great Expectations,” “Anna Karenina”) and Sophie McShera (“Downton Abbey,” “Waterloo Road”) play Ella’s stepsisters Anastasia and Drisella, respectively. Stellan Skarsgård (“The Avengers,” “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”) and Nonso Anozie (“Game of Thrones,” “The Grey”) play the Arch Grand Duke and the Prince’s loyal friend, the Captain. Tony® Award-winner Derek Jacobi portrays the King.

“Cinderella” is produced by Simon Kinberg (“X-Men: First Class,” “Elysium”), Allison Shearmur (“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”), David Barron (“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” “Jack Ryan”), from a screenplay by Chris Weitz (“About a Boy,” “The Golden Compass”).

And here’s the offiicial summary:

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.

It all sounds pretty standard, no? I think a lot of us were hoping for something in the vein of Snow White and the Huntsman, where Cinderella would take a more active role, but the cast is a great one so I’m not complaining too much. However, I must point out the coincidence of Madden’s character being called “Kit,” the same name as his Game of Thrones co-star Kit Harington. As far as the more run-of-the-mill plot, here’s what the director had to say.

“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,” said Branagh. “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.”

What do you think about the plot summary for the film?

(via /Film)

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  • Selkiechick

    I guess Disney doesn’t want to promote Holliday Grainger’s other recent big role… Lucretia Borgia.

  • Austin Wildcatter

    I feel like we got the best version of Cinderella with ‘Ever After.’ Not sure this is going to be knock-out awesome, but it will be an enjoyable popcorn watch.

  • Lisa Liscoumb

    If you want a Cinderella with a self-rescuing princess, may I humbly suggest Ever After with Drew Barrymore, Dougray Scott and Anjelica Huston (as a delightfully spiteful and cruel stepmother). I love the movie, and she is definitely no “I’ll just wait for the Prince to rescue me” heroine.

  • Lisa Liscoumb

    Haha – Austin, looks like you and I are both on the same page!

  • Claire


  • Anna Sophia May

    I really am looking forward to it. I like fairy tales, and I’m always happy to read or watch one, whether or not the princess is super active, self rescuing, etc. Plus i’m a sucker for pretty dresses and the “Oh no I’m just a palace guard, wait I’m the prince!” trope.
    (I do love the self rescuing princess though make no mistake, I loved ever after and all, but I care more about the feel of the story than if Ella saves herself. *shrug*
    because I am not an action princess. if I was in any of these situations I would probably just cry and if someone was in a better position to rescue me I’m all for that, hah. It’s nice to see different types of strength.)

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  • Anonymous

    This is a sideline, but I always have to muse when someone who is well versed in the classics has to tow the party line and make statements like Branagh’s “Cinderella and Disney are inseparable” soundbite. I wouldn’t be surprised if Branagh isn’t familiar with the earlier variations of the tale, where her mother’s spirit provides her with her gown and things. But you’ll see that version in Disney’s “Into the Woods” affair anyway.

  • R.O.U.S.

    Even though Drew’s accent makes me cringe, I can’t stop loving that movie.

  • R.O.U.S.

    I don’t need an updated storyline to remain optimistic – we can do the classic story with some smart dialogue (fingers crossed) and great cast (check) and get a pleasing result. We’ll see!

  • R.O.U.S.

    I don’t need an updated storyline to remain optimistic – we can do the classic story with some smart dialogue (fingers crossed) and great cast (check) and get a pleasing result. We’ll see!

  • athenia45

    Girlfriend rides bareback in a light blue dress? :/

  • athenia45

    Girlfriend rides bareback in a light blue dress? :/

  • Jordan Wester

    Not that there’s a lot of wiggle room with Cinderella, but this plot is pretty close to “The Glass Slipper,” starring Leslie Caron. Meets the Prince in the forest but is unaware he’s the Prince & thinks he works at the Palace? Check. Fairy Godmother a kindly beggar woman? Check. I’ll still see it. I’m a sucker for fairy tales.
    And yes, “Ever After,” was the best!

  • Jill Pantozzi

    Ever After is one of my favorites!

  • Rachel Banzhaf

    Might not be stand out awesome (though I love nearly every cast member I recognize) but it will easily achieve a solid “pleasant.” And with the horrid live action fairy tales recently we could really use some pleasant.

    They really need to sneak Richard Madden into Downton Abbey for an episode or two.

  • Caitlin

    I was thinking the same thing as both of you while reading the synopsis. I doubt the plot will be more interesting than Ever After, and I doubt I’ll love/hate the stepsisters more.

    Screenplay by Chris Weitz? About a Boy id one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. Yawn.

  • Melissa Shumake

    this is one of my all time favorite movies. seriously so great =)

  • Melissa Shumake

    i love that book, to this day one of my favorite fairy tale re-tellings, and the anne hathaway movie is just…. terrible.

  • Christina Ladwig

    I’m still bitter all these years later. Cinderella has always been my favorite fairy tale and that interpretation of it was so great. I read it in one night when I was 19 and went out the next day to buy my own copy (I had borrowed it from a friend). Turning that moving book with a strong female protagonist into a lame romantic comedy was a crime I can’t forgive, but I digress.

  • Ashe

    Man, I’ll sound like such a curmudgeon here, but this seems so unabashedly boring.

    The positives? Cate Blanchett and Helena Bonham Carter. Fantastic actresses.

    That’s…all I got. I never found Cinderella an interesting story, though it could be provided they captured a different angle. Maybe do the story from the perspective of the evil stepmother and make her a sort of tragic anti-villian with a lot of personal issues. Elaborate on the talking animal friends and fairy godmother as a product of Cinderella’s damaged psyche. Or, hell, even the Cinderella Disney sequels did something different-by having one of the evil stepsisters change her ways and follow in Cinderella’s footsteps after she became queen!

    Snow White and the Huntsman was flawed, but at least it was *somewhat* interesting and provocative. This sounds like they’re playing it safe to the nth degree.

  • Ashe

    I still need to see that movie…

  • Anonymous

    A floaty chiffon dress with no pants underneath?
    Chafing. Chafing chafing sweat rash chafing.