“Have Courage and Be Kind”

Cinderella has never been an absolute favorite Disney princess for me. Of course, I love the whole iconography that her story and her castle encapsulates–if anyone even utters the words “Cinderella Castle,” I immediately start to get butterflies and heart palpitations. Cinderella’s person and image is connected to my favorite place in the entire world. In my opinion, she and Mickey are the head honchos of the place. Her castle sits at the end of Main Street, and Mick has his head plastered everywhere. It just goes.

She still has never been one of my favorite Disney characters, though. Until now.

If you haven’t seen the new live-action version of Cinderella, DO IT. Right now. Get up and go to your local theater and purchase a passport into a magical tale that holds just so much heart and inspiration and magic.

*Spoilers ahead*

I loved this movie. Absolutely loved it. Disney kept the story pure, exactly the same as the original Disney version of the fairytale (the original original is quite dark, but Disney decided to make it a little more warm and fuzzy). What the filmmakers added, however, were motives, a back story and a simple, yet profound, message that will sure to linger on your lips every time you search for advice to give. “Have courage and be kind.”

Cinderella, a girl whose life is riddled with sorrow and suffering, never forgets those words her dying mother gave her. She takes courage, stays where her evil stepmother resides simply because it’s a beloved family home, and is kind to all who encounter her, including the dashing, sensitive, perfectly-blue-eyed Prince (who she mistakes for an apprentice) when they  rendezvous in the woods (of course). This is the first modernization of the film–she meets her Prince Charming before she even thinks about going to the ball. She knows she has a liking for him without having the knowledge that he is even a Prince.

When she does go to the ball, the result is magical–Cinderella’s coach is to die for, her dress is glittering and fit for a beautiful “honest country girl” turned princess, and the glass slippers bestowed on her feet are absolutely dazzling. As her carriage makes its way to the ball that will change her life, fireworks go off in the distance.

This, my friends, was just one of the moments where I cried shamelessly. It was all just so beautiful.

One of my favorite parts of this film were the simple, yet profound, messages it brings its audience. Of course, Cinderella’s mother delivers the main theme of them all: “Have courage and be kind.” My favorite moment, however (and the place in which I bawled like I had just won Miss America) had to be when Cinderella was descending the stairs to meet her Prince, right before he would place her slipper on her dainty foot. The narrator (the Fairy Godmother) informs the audience that without magic to hide behind, Cinderella had to gather incredible courage. She was to present herself to royalty, just as she was: an honest country girl.” As Cinderella looks at her honest reflection in the mirror, her Fairy Godmother says what I think may be the most important lesson of this film:

“There is no greater risk that any of us will take: to be seen as we truly are.” 

Cinderella was just a girl–a beautiful, kind girl, but a girl of low status, nonetheless. She had to face her biggest dream, the Prince, just as she was, unable to hide behind a cloak of glitter and grandeur. She descends the staircase from her confining attic in her old tattered blue dress and worn blue flats she wears throughout the entire movie. She tells the Prince that she has nothing–“No carriage. No parents. No dowry.” She’s just Cinderella. She asks him, “If that slipper fits, Will you take me as I am?” And we all know what happens: they live happily ever after.

I don’t know why this hit me quite so hard, but I couldn’t stop crying in the theater. Disney is at its best when it can deliver simple messages that we, as a society, so often forget. This movie is a comfort to a weary heart because it emphasizes two of the most important things in this world: Be kind and be yourself. Another favorite moment of mine is when Cinderella utters three words to her stepmother as she and her love depart: “I forgive you.” Cinderella is never bitter. We can all learn so much from this princess that I used to just “like.” Now I can’t help but love her.

Please. If you haven’t seen this movie, do so. Be swept away by the sets, the costumes, the beautiful humans that portray Cinderella and her Prince. Be enamored with the magic we so often forget can exist in a pure story and a beautiful message. Go to the ball and feel so happy for Cinderella. Take her lessons to heart: “Have courage and be kind.”

And, above all, learn to make some magic like Cinderella can–with the kindness of your words, and the sincerity of your actions. Have a magical day, my friends.

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