REEL DEAL: “THOR'S” Kenneth Branagh Directs New Live-Action “CINDERELLA”

Academy Award® nominee Kenneth Branagh (“Thor”) directs Disney’s “Cinderella,” a live-action feature inspired by the classic fairy tale, bringing to life the timeless images from the studio’s 1950 animated masterpiece as fully-realized characters in a visually-dazzling spectacle for a whole new generation.

The film stars: Academy Award winner Cate Blanchett as the wicked but misunderstood stepmother; Lily James (“Downton Abbey”) as the loving and kind-hearted Ella, a young woman whose spirit can’t be broken; Richard Madden (“Game of Thrones”) as the dashing and thoughtful Kit, who initially hides his true identity as the Prince from Ella; and two-time Academy Award nominee Helena Bonham Carter as the Beggar Woman and Ella’s fabled guardian, the Fairy Godmother.

Kenneth Branagh is a multi-faceted artist and one of the most respected filmmakers working today. In addition to his acclaimed skills as a director (a Best Director Oscar® nomination and Best Director BAFTA Award for “Henry V”), he is a talented actor, writer and producer as well. But it was his passion for story-telling and his ability to find humanity in every situation which made him the ideal choice to bring this story to life.

“I had never considered directing a fairy tale,” he says, “But I was captivated by the power of the story and thought I was in sync with the visual artistry that was being developed.” According to producer Allison Shearmur, “’Cinderella’ is the ultimate story of good triumphing over despair and tragedy, and that is something to which we can all relate.”

Writing a screenplay which would effectively balance the essence of the animated film while making it appealing and relevant to today’s audiences, lay in the capable hands of screenwriter Chris Weitz. Like Branagh, Weitz is also an accomplished actor, producer and director, and was intrigued with the prospect of giving audiences a glimpse into the backgrounds and motivations of each character, showing them to be more complex.

“We’re not doing a revisionist version of ‘Cinderella,’” says Weitz, “She does what the character did in the fairy tale, but for a modern audience it’s very hard to figure out why she doesn’t run away and go to social services or something like that. The question was how to embody what we thought was great and beautiful about the story and the heroine, and for us it was a tremendous sense of purpose and honor and fortitude that you don’t see often in heroes these days.”

Branagh continues, “In the script, we tried to make absolutely clear that we were presenting a girl whose life would not be dependent on or defined by a man arriving.

Her life would not be dependent on or defined by glamorous or expensive things arriving. Also, this girl would not be defined by having some easily available magical or supernatural force, like a fairy godmother, as an omnipotent, omniscient agent who would take care of everything. The Fairy Godmother helps of course, but as in life, things are mostly up to the individual. Cinderella rises to the challenge.”

“Cinderella” will be released in the Philippines on March 12, through Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures International.

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