“But that’s — I’m sorry, but that’s completely ridiculous! How can I possibly prove it doesn’t exist? Do you expect me to get hold of — of all the pebbles in the world and test them? I mean, you could claim that anything’s real if the only basis for believing in it is that nobody’s proved it doesn’t exist!”
“Yes, you could,” said Xenophilius. “I’m glad to see that you are opening your mind a little.”
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – J.K. Rowling
‘Dear Doctor, you know what to do?’ Stephen nodded, taking over the spokes and feeling the life of the wheel. The quartermaster stepped away, picked up a cutlass with a grim look of delight. ‘Doctor, what’s the Spanish for fifty more men?’
‘Otros cincuenta,’ said Jack, looking into his face with a most affectionate smile. ‘Now lay us alongside, I beg.’
Cinderella has generally received good reviews (currently at 84% on Rotten Tomatoes), but it’s had its fair share of detractors, particularly when it comes to how the film relates to feminism. I consider myself a feminist, as equality for women is one of my core beliefs and goals, so I’ve found myself in the week after seeing Cinderella asking a question: “Is there a feminist interpretation of Cinderella?” Many people probably already have an answer to that question, formed without having seen the movie. Some will answer, “No, of course there isn’t,” as everyone knows the story and most of us have seen the 1950 Disney animated version and can base an opinion from that. Others will answer, “Who cares?” either because they’re not interested in feminism, or they actually dislike feminist ideas entirely. This article isn’t for them, but it’s for people like me, who passionately support feminism but who also loved Cinderella. The question is whether we can reconcile these two, seemingly mutually exclusive, views.
I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from Disney’s new live-action version of Cinderella, and I even had some doubts about how it might turn out (and I am definitely not the doubting sort). With Maleficent, it was clear from the outset that we would be seeing a familiar tale retold from the villain’s point of view, and this focus allowed the cast and crew to breathe new life into a well-known story. Cinderella, on the other hand, presented itself as a straight-forward adaptation, and I was worried that it would either feel dull or unnecessary as a result, with nothing new to bring to the conversation. (In the spirit of full disclosure, Cinderella was always my least favorite of the classic Disney princess films.) Could Cinderella find a way to be engaging and feel fresh despite its old-fashioned approach? In the end I was wrong to doubt, because Cinderella succeeds not in spite of its old-fashioned approach, but because of it.