'Cinderella' is an atypical film for Aleksandr Rou, which sadly people are likely to be most familiar from MST3K when his 'Morozko' ('Frosty'), which to me isn't too bad a film yet was butchered by its English language dub, was riffed. Know him best for his surreal fantasy films, some based on popular Soviet folk-lore, with touches of quirky comedy, wonderfully strange characters and a bizarre yet wildly imaginative atmosphere. So it was a surprise to see that he also did what is essentially a ballet film version of Prokoviev's wonderful ballet.
Even more of a surprise is how well he does it. For me 'Cinderella', starring none other than the Bolshoi Ballet, is one of his best films and, due to the 'Cinderella' story being so famous and that it is a faithful and straightforward adaptation of it and the ballet, in one of Bolshoi's most timeless productions, it is one of his most accessible ones too. Ballet fans and those who love Prokoviev's music (highly appreciate it myself and consider 'Cinderella' one of his best works) will find this a joy to watch and those who love the story (always has been one of my favourites, both Perrault and the darker Grimm versions) likewise. It is throughout directed with restraint but also enthusiasm, found nothing overly busy, even with the step-sisters, or static or too much of a stage-bound filmed ballet production.
Visually, 'Cinderella' looks wonderful, especially the sets, with the standout being that magnificent ballroom setting for Act 2, and the often quite dazzling visual effects for the scenes between Cinderella and the fairy-mother dominating the second half of Act 1. A lot of thought clearly went into how things were lit, sometimes muted in colour yet never drab and imaginative when it needed to be. Also loved the costumes with Cinderella's ball dress being to die for. The camera work, with truly enchanting use of multiple cameras, is luckily on neither extreme of overly busy chaos or static dullness, there are close-ups but there is not an over-reliance on them and when they are there they create an intimacy and emotional connection with the characters (used to particularly magical effect with the fairy-godmother and the fairies), plus you can fully appreciate the dancing and choreography. Prokoviev's music is a big star here, full of beauty and energy.
The music thankfully is performed with energy, power and nuance with tempos that always suit the mood of the scenes. The choreography is always elegant and witty, especially apparent throughout Act 2, the interaction between the step-sisters (genuinely funny and not overdone) and the second half of Act 1. The second half of Act 3 also came over to me as very poignant, in a way that takes one to another world.
Bolshoi perform this choreography flawlessly. Here there is a luminous Cinderella who is easy to root for, dancing with effortless grace, a dashing prince who is a sympathetic partner and has powerful movement across the stage, a fairy-godmother who really enchants and personifies benevolence, a beautifully synchronised Corps De Ballet that is enhanced by the camera work and a genuinely funny and nasty step-family without any of it going overboard.
Altogether, absolutely magical. For me, it is one of the best ballet films ever made but felt much more than that. 10/10 Bethany Cox
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this