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Monday, March 23, 2015

The New Cinderella Movie Lessons on Abusive Relationships and More

I know there are Christians who have a problem with any Disney because of the theme of magic that is intertwined. I respect their position, but I have always seen it that there are so many underlying themes that can really be related to biblical teachings, and like the parables Jesus told, if I can find a parallel to Scripture, I enjoy it more. The new live-action Cinderella movie provides so many parallels.


As you know – Cinderella is transformed into wearing the most gorgeous dress that sparkles and flows with all its poof. But, even dressed up to the max and looking drop-dead beautiful – Her beauty remains even after the magic is gone.
The story is a classic fairy tale that, like many others, was re-told by Walt Disney. It has now been re-told again with just a few added attributes in which the writers re-imagined it. But, in this case, I think they re-imagined it for the better.


They added Cinderella’s back story. You get a glimpse into what her life was like pre-horrid-step-mother and step-sisters time. Her life was splendid and lovely, sheltered in her little home with a loving mother and daddy. I don’t aim to spoil the movie for those who haven’t seen it, but you know the story. Her mother dies, and so does her dad.  In the meantime, the movie gives insight into how Cinderella’s character was planted and how it grew. Before her mom died, she instilled within Ella (the Cinder part had not yet been dashed upon her) that the most important qualities in life are to:


Cinderella's strength and beauty really come from her steadfast courage and kindness and love, so she is able to face the horrible oppression and verbal abuse and stand up to it but not in anger, with true strength that comes from Love and knowing who you are (in Christ, how Christ sees you).
I love how the movie points out how names have meaning, and how what we are told we are is how we often act. She was born, Ella which means “light” or “beautiful fairy woman” along with a few other possible meanings. The Cinder part was thrust upon her with evil intention. Even with all her steadfast courage, even Cinderella begins to lose sight of who she really is and starts to lose hope.
Which brings me to the next point – The abuse!


The live-action movie really does an amazing job of portraying the abuse that Cinderella endured at the hands of her wicked step mother and step sisters. There is really no physical abuse to be noted, but the heaviness of words attempt to damage Cinderella’s inner person. All of this would be discouraging and degrading, leaving a girl to climb into the cycle of what many abused women encounter. Though, Cinderella had not grown up in abuse. She already had the strength she needed to climb above it. What is most excellent is how the movie and storyline does not leave her in her down-graded abusive environment. No! She rises above it with love, courage and kindness!


The story is often thought of as the classic Disney tale of love at first sight that only happens in fairy tales. But, the live-action movie throws in a brief meeting between the two before the iconic ball. I love how the new writers did this, because it not only shuts up the romantic skeptics, but it also adds an entirely new dimension to the story. See – The two don’t know who the other is, but they know there was an attraction that went beyond physical beauty. They learned enough about each other through this brief meeting to look into each other’s souls and pull out enough information to know they wanted to know more.
While, to the naked eye, it appears to be a love-at-first-sight, Prince Charming whisks me away to glory kind of story – The retelling of it ends, not with a knight in shining armor, Prince Charming being her ticket out, but it is Kindness and Courage that abound and win!  It is this inner strength that is stronger than any physical fight.


I love how the movie portrays what kindness really is – It’s not some “walk all over me, because I’m lowly and wimpy” kind of an attitude. It is truly strength and powerful!
But, as you know, she does leave this horrific abuse and is rewarded with a life as a princess and a queen – Poetic justice! Though – My favorite line is what she says to her step-mother when she turns to her as Cinderella is walking out of the door to leave and claim her rightful place in the palace. I will not spoil it for you, if you have not yet seen the movie.

Another new theme throughout the movie is the use of butterflies. It’s subtle, but definitely a big part of the new movie. It is really a nice addition, too since a butterfly begins as a caterpillar and then goes into seclusion giving all the appearances of being very undesirable and ugly, but then the butterfly emerges – Ooh how pretty! It is the most beautiful winged being that flitters with beauty and grace.



A really important story twist was added to the movie version:
From the perspective of the prince, there was substance and worth inside Cinderella’s eyes – qualities that he saw lacking in himself and that he knew would be for the good of the kingdom. Though, while Cinderella was ashamed of her name and did not want to share it – The prince, too, had a different kind of shame. Perhaps, his was more of a humility, but he chooses not to share his true identity with her either. But, what I love is what comes of this meeting – It is from that meeting that the Prince sees beauty worth searching and waiting for. The invitation to the ball goes out to all the maidens in the land – BECAUSE THE PRINCE’S EYES ARE FIXED ONLY ON ONE, and he wants her to show up at the ball. He is looking for her and for her alone.

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