Friday, June 21, 2013

Cinderella Gets a Fairly-Odd-Mother

Helena Bonham Carter in an outfit I always thought of as "Cinderella's Fairy Godmother giving the dress a test-run"
And we like it! From Slashfilm late yesterday:
Kenneth Branagh‘s live-action Disney film, Cinderella, has just found its Fairy Godmother. Helena Bonham Carter will play the iconic role helping the title character (Lily James) fall in love with the prince (Richard Madden) in spite of the Wicked Stepmother (Cate Blanchett).
The film has yet to be given a release date, but late 2014, early 2015 seems likely. It was written by Aline Brosh McKenna (The Devil Wears Prada) and Chris Weitz (Twilight: New Moon).

This live action fairy godmother will apparently play a much bigger role than the bibbidi-bobbidi-bumbling character in Disney's animated version of Cinderella. Ms. Carter will have screen time masquerading (undercover?) as a beggar woman "who watches over*" Cindy (shades of The Slipper and the Rose?) before she reveals her magical self . Sounds like we're going for a "things are not what they appear to be" theme on this movie. Which could be a lot of fun if they play with that smartly (without going camp).

Looks like an stars-all-round cast with the stepsisters being played by familiar faces too. They are Sophie McShera (Downton Abbey) and Holliday Granger (The Borgias). 

I also found some cool insights from Hero Complex on the film as well as some curious insider quotes, illustrating the way the fairy tale is being considered by the creative team:
Gustav Dore's illustration for Perrault's Cinderella
Though the fairy godmother in the 1950 animated feature was a grandmotherly dumpling, Bonham Carter’s casting would suggest that the updated “Cinderella” might be embracing a darker tone; the actress is known for playing offbeat, exaggerated roles, including the villainous Bellatrix Lestrange in the “Harry Potter” films, the twisted Mrs. Lovett in “Sweeney Todd” and clownish thief Madame Thénardier in “Les Misérables.”
...It’s too early to say whether the film will follow in the whimsical, color-saturated footsteps of “Alice in Wonderland,” or whether it will take a more classic approach, but producers have said they want the film to feel “modern.”
“We were thinking of titles and characters that we hadn’t really seen done in a modern, live-action way, and we were kind of stunned that Cinderella hasn’t really been done that way, as a traditional, loyal telling of the story,” producer Simon Kinberg told Hero Complex.
My Fairy Tale News Hound ears just pricked up: go back and read that underlined part again. Traditional? Loyal? Are we talking being faithful to Perrault's telling then? (He was the writer that added a fairy godmother to the Cinderella tale.) *makes note to hunt for more clues* There are a couple more tidbits:
"Oh my..." (Helena Bonham Carter's Oscar shoes)
Kinberg and McKenna together hatched the plan for a live-action update, hoping that Cinderella’s status as an “iconic character” would help the film.
“It’s a funny thing ’cause her name, a little bit like Sherlock Holmes or Star Wars or these other franchises, it’s one of those names that people all around the world know the name and intrinsically know the story,” said Kinberg. “It’s just an identifiable, very rootable underdog story.”
You know what? I just got interested. One of my favorite interpretations of a fairy godmother was from The Slipper and the Rose in which the fairy godmother had many fairy tale godchildren, a sort of enchanted apothecary kitchen with the all-important fairy tales datebook, was very overworked - especially as her magic backfired if she ever tried to use it for herself, like to make a cup of tea - yet was still smart and able to nudge things toward happily ever afters. Notice I said "nudge". She still squarely put most of the work on the "kids" shoulders; something I really appreciated, even as a kid.

I always liked those dubious mentors who seemed to be an enemy but were really helping heroes toward their destiny (like Snape, or the crotchety old fairy at the well who tested different daughters and only revealed her true nature as they passed - or failed - the test). I have to wonder if Carter's godmother will include shades of these delicious characters. Either way, I'm hoping she'll get to be her chameleon-like character and transform on screen. Although her roles and performances aren't always my flavor of quirk she's so very talented. One of my favorite roles was also under Branagh, in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and I'm curious to see what she does with this time, especially if there's a dual personality... Hmm. A schizophrenic fairy godmother who seemed against (but was for) the hero would be very interesting!

The production is set to start shooting in pumpkin season, aka Autumn, (of course!) in London.

Additional sources: *The Hollywood Reporter , USA Today

1 comment:

  1. You like the Slipper and the Rose too? *dances around with joy*

    It's definitely my favourite fairytale adaptation of all time. The Godmother is a wonderful character. I wrote an article on the Slipper and the Rose, if you're interested.

    This new version looks interesting though. And HBC is an interesting and unexpected choice. A bit like a faerie who is definitely only partly seelie.