There always seems to be someone who takes something the wrong way, and some people did that with the new live action Cinderella, for once this is not a rant against whining people. But I do imagine people trying to say ‘have courage and be kind’ isn’t strong enough when people are mean to you are something of the disposition of the step-sisters. They fail to see that true strength isn’t complaining that people are mean to you and demanding they change, it’s pitying them for how sad their lives must be to live in such a way. It’s not promoting abuse, or saying that what the step-mother did was right, it’s saying sometimes in life you’ll have to deal with shitty people and the best thing for you to do is be you and not let them bring you down no matter what they do. Cinderella had a choice, she could have left (see conversation she has with ex-servant where the serving girl asks ‘why do you stay when they treat you so?’ she had reasons to stay and so she did, she wanted to keep her word and be where she had memories of her mother and father. She could have ‘got out’) That said I’m going to move on to the main purpose of this post, which for once isn’t about pointing out the idiocy and overreaction of some people in the world.
I’m typing this up to say that Cinderella is a rare movie for our time. Normally when someone says a movie was ‘inspiring’ we tend to think of movies with athletes overcoming the odds, or of warriors recovering from pain and loss to be brave. Uplifting and inspiring tend to come with ideas of glorious feats and defeating all odds, not with quiet humility and kindness. Inspiring films tend to focus on fighting back, standing up for ourselves, and taking what we deserve. Not often are they about being sweet even when we want to lash out. This is why I love Cinderella so much. He fleshed out her character and made her real, you can see she’s biting her tongue when she’s dismissed to the attic or called Cinderella and sent from the breakfast table, you know she has the spirit, she could even pursue legal action probably to claim the house as hers, as it was probably set to pass to her, and kick her step-family out, she could have taken back her own instead she patiently perseveres in kindness, but is still human enough to need to get out and go on a gallop to escape her wretched life. She needs to go get centered so she can continue to be sweet and caring. Even when locked up and separated from any chance of seeing her beloved again she has the resiliency to still sing and dance, even when she’s suffering. She can find happiness in the most unfortunate changes in circumstances, she has the fortitude to find things to appreciate in her changes in fortunes, like when she’s sent up to the attic, she is happy she is a little further from the rest of the house and free to be herself.
And what struck me most was how indomitable they made her. She could have gotten everything she wanted on her own. She easily could have said yes to her stepmother’s offer and been presented as the lost princess at court and been married while her stepmother managed the prince, thus getting free of her humble situation. She could have even said yes and then turned around and told Kit every wicked thing her stepmother had done and had her exiled after getting what she wanted, that would have been the ‘modern woman’s’ approach to it. Get what you want even if it means a little blurring of the lines of honesty. Instead she stands firm to her word, just like she had been to the promises she made her mother and father.
Cinderella is everything that’s good and to be encouraged in people, both small and grown, boy and girl. It’s a sense of honor and honesty, a kindness and a courageousness, strength and sensitivity. She teaches us to have an open heart even when others are trying to crush it. To not become bitter and callous when life is unpleasant or when people are cruel. She’s beauty inside and out and grace, but the best thing about the live-action version is she’s all that and still very human too. She has her sassy side and her temper that she tries to hide and is capable of all the things her stepmother came to be, but chose to take the more difficult path and let her pain make her kinder instead of crueler.