Cinderella 2021: Not the
Sweet Good Princess We Knew
by Christina Herath
A feminist revolted ‘heroine’ & a weak egoist ‘hero’
At the start we are introduced by the narrator to an “old fashioned kingdom, bound by tradition.” But the intent of the makers is clearly conveyed when we are told that “their world was about to change.”
That is what we are told. But in fact it is obvious that this Kingdom is hardly traditional. From the very beginning we are bombarded with modern day music and inappropriate, vulgar and revolutionary danceing. The town’s messenger raps out his announcements, the changing of the guards is a joke, and everyone acts in a revolutionary way, except possibly the King who is portrayed in a negative light. It is a true revolt against the traditional Cinderella fairy story where people value virtue and dignified behavior.
God’s Name is taken in vain more than once, slang as well as a few inappropriate phrases with second meanings are used. All this and more made a disaster of this “romantic musical film.”
A feminist Cinderella
In this film, Cinderella is a delusional young woman, Ella, who is trying to start a dress designer shop. Now, we all know that being a seamstress is feminine work and thus it could seem a commendable goal for a young woman of our days. But in this movie Ella’s aspirations to a great career are feminist; she revolts against the notion of marriage as a vocation for women.
Dreaming of a dress designer career, not a prince
She laughs at the notion of attending a ball, which she believes is “weird and antiquated.” However, she decides it would be worthwhile to go to help her career and meet rich customers who may purchase her sewing creations.
Prince Robert is a lazy, spoiled child, sad to say, a portrayal of the modern man. He is disrespectful to his father, has no care about his family’s honor and no intentions of settling down any time soon.
A soft Prince Robert, with more lipstick than the Princess...
Later, he sings a song written by the rock band Queen, in which he complains to God about the stupid life he lives: “Lord, what you’re doin’ to me... I have spent all my years in believin’ you. But I just can’t get no relief, Lord...” In the background, a protestant style rock choir belts out more lyrics.
However, Robert falls in love with the feminist Ella. He tells one of his friends that she’s witty and fearless and fondly recalls how she spoke disrespectfully to his father the King.
Other transformed characters
The stepmother and stepsisters in this movie are not the evil women we expect them to be. At times, they are mean, but at other times sisterly toward Ella. The stepmother is more likable than abhorrable.
A not-so-evil stepmother & stepsisters
When her stepmother discovers that Ella was the Princess at the ball whom the Prince wishes to marry, she actually pleads with her to marry him. But the feminist Ella stubbornly refuses. She doe not want “a life stuck waving from a royal box any more than a life confined to a basement.”
And what about the fairy godmother? The one who comes to save our innocent and persecuted protagonist? What we are given is an extravagent man in a dress who introduces himself as her “fabulous godmother.” There is nothing admirable in a “gay” man playing a woman’s role. And Billy Porter, who plays this role, is “gay” in real life and is “married” to another man.
A supposedly ‘funny’ homo fairy godmother...
Also a feminist & revolted Queen
Obviously, she has had enough of him ignoring her orders and making decisions rightfully as her husband and King. How “oppressing”!
The ball is a vulgar display, with haughty extravagant women in immodest gowns dancing in revolutionary fashion and singing horribly. The Prince is prettier than most of the women and wears an earring… Of course he sees Ella and falls in love and expects her to be excited to become the future Queen.
A vulgar & immodest bevy of princesses at the ball dancing to rock music
This later inspires Prince Robert to also choose himself. Now, a marriage between two self-centered egoist and immature persons will never end happily. This is the false message of the film: To be happy you must say “I choose me.”
So Robert gives up his right to the throne which falls to his sister, a properly feminist happy ending. He does this so that he can be with Ella, but they are in no rush to get married; first they want to travel the world together. It is disturbing and confusing, considering that in the ending scene, Ella is wearing something that looks like a short wedding dress. Another message: Even though they are not married, these liberated youth have the freedom to lead immoral lives.
A disdain for marriage
Marriage is scorned in this movie. I saw no any virtuous or happily married couples in it, and that says a lot. Ella’s “dream” of a career is more important than marriage, and the Prince being free to find himself is more important that the duty of carrying on the family dynasty.
Robert gives the crown to his ecologist younger sister
There is nothing exemplary in it and so is a shameful waste of time. The message it conveys is to love yourself and to do what you like, no matter how abnormal or unconventional or even immoral it may be. You should be the bold and bad rule breaker who challenges any form of tradition.
And that is never a good lesson.
The royal family, nothing traditional or stable about it