First of all, this movie is Kenneth Branagh doing what he was meant to do. It is antique and sophisticated, drawing on depth of character for propulsion of each scene. He lets you look at what people are going through in their eyes between lines. I love it. My only qualm is that it wasn’t all in as an adult story. The fairy godmother scene and the almost talking mice were obviously not a comfort zone for Branagh, but included as a part of Disney’s obsession with retail options for our youth. The real story is not friendly mice or fairy godmothers but humble kindness and the power of unadulterated meekness.
I hadn’t thought of this fairy tale as a study in humility before this movie came out, but that’s exactly what it is. Strength with kindness, Cinderella’s mantra, is an adequate description of long suffering as spoken of in the Bible. Cinderella, as she states in one of the final scenes, did not deserve any of the tribulation brought upon her by step mother and sisters, yet endured it willingly and was, in the end, rewarded beyond measure.
The stepmother’s explanation to Cinderella as to why she treated her as she did is also telling. Paraphrasing, she says “I’ve treated you like this because you are always so good and I’m …” She can’t bring herself to speak out loud her own character of sinfulness, but the idea is clear. The expression of kindness in the face of indignity angers those with more self centered attitudes because it reveals what they could be but at the same time can’t seem to be.
The comparison with the Christian walk is not perfect because I beleive it is unintentional. There are times when the secular world gets it right even if they don’t completely understand why. They just barely tap into a truth but are unable to bring it to its logical conclusion. I say this because the movie ultimately does not explain what gives Cinderella the power to behave the way she does. Though clearly stating that her behavior is not motivated by fear, it leaves the viewer to suppose by default that this strength of character must come from inside. But if this is true by new age teaching standards, then the stepmother should have been able to reach within herself to rise above as well. The depiction, however, is that there is at least some internal stepmother struggle to do so and she is not able to succeed.
My advice as a Christian is to rely on the miraculous grace of God in order to endure for His glory. Continue in meekness as He did, and perhaps you will experience a little magic along the way. But whether you have a pumpkin transforming experience or not, you can be sure that “the sufferings of this present world are nothing compared to the glory that will follow.”