The new Disney movie ‘Cinderella’ seems to have redefined the ‘Cinderella Syndrome’ – the ‘Cinderella Complex’.
New life is breathed into these classic archetype characters, giving us a deeper dimension, with a more compelling perspective to the ‘rest of the story’.
These new themes seem refreshingly important, especially for the next generation.
Living by virtues and values. Relationship attachments. Choices. Attitudes. Beliefs. Courage. The ‘magic’ of believing who you are is enough.
These all impact who we are and are becoming.
Here are a few of my initial musings. After seeing the film twice.
(I have tried to not make it too much of a spoiler if you haven’t seen it yet.)
1. Cinderella lives her life guided by ‘virtues’ and ‘values’
Cinderella’s mother has a wonderful, heartfelt deathbed talk with Cinderella.
Have courage and be kind, which she aimed to live out. Holding her mother’s love and words in her heart.
She chose to be authentic and the best version of herself at all times.
“To see the world not as it is but what it could be if you believe in courage and kindness.”
The film shows how difficult this actually is for the character to live out.
It isn’t easy. Even for Ella. Who seems to be naturally gifted with loving parents and a delightful temperament. But she did her best with dignity and grace. Sometimes not knowing where the line was in being courageous and kind and being taken advantage of.
She even offers forgiveness to the stepmother in the end. Which, after all the cruelty, seems so very courageous and kind.
2. We have choices in our response to life’s struggles.
There is a lot of grief in the film. Which bonds some of the characters and separates others. Cinderella and the stepmother both had losses and could have identified over it. They both knew loss, grief and disappointment.
But they chose different ways of dealing with it. .
A line from the film says – “the stepmother had known grief but ‘wore it wonderfully well’”. We get insight into what was behind the façade, the hardness and bitterness of the stepmother. In an interview with Cate Blanchett, (who plays the stepmother) she was asked, “how does one become so mean like the stepmother?” “In slow, increments”, was her response. You can either slowly grow and be resilient, or shrink back and become bitter and cruel. It is a choice.
3. Cinderella wasn’t sitting around waiting for the prince to rescue her
Cinderella wasn’t feeling sorry for herself, just dreaming and singing about being rescued from her horrible life by a prince with fortune.
She has a genuine encounter with a man in the forest (who she is told is an ‘apprentice’) and she just hopes to see him again. She has no idea he is the prince. She doesn’t even aspire to go to the ball to meet the prince. She was pursuing a real relationship connection.
4. Relationship ‘attachments’ matter and have impact
The beginning of the film shows scenes of Cinderella’s ‘fairytale’ childhood, with a secure, loving attachment with her mother and father. The father attachments for both Cinderella and the Prince are highlighted, in which they are allowed and even celebrated to follow their hearts and be who they really are.
Cinderella and the prince have a real soul connection, even in their brief encounters. There is lots of old-fashioned intrigue and attraction, respectful romantic dancing, conversations to get to know one another and just enjoying being together. (What a concept !)
The focus isn’t on the prince being charmed and Cinderella trying to be rescued. She is her own lovely person, and actually has a genuine influence on the prince.
5. It takes courage to be who you are and believe it is good enough
These are some of my favorite lines from the film.
Cinderella wondered – ‘was who she was really enough’?
“Will you take me as I am?”
“The greatest risk we take is to be seen as we really are.”
That takes real courage.
And to accept others as they really are.
That is real kindness.
So, how would you define the ‘new’ Cinderella Syndrome?
What other themes do you notice in the new Cinderella film?