Is there anything either positive or negative in the film’s representation of women not already accounted for here? (points will vary)
It is debatable whether Cinderella realizes that the handsome “apprentice” she encounters in the forest is the Prince, and hence it is a desire to meet him again that drives her to want to attend the ball (rather than just a general “Balls at the palace are awesome” motivation). Either way is problematic for the female protagonist. If her goal is primarily romantic (to enter into a relationship with him), that is typically not a great thing for women’s representation. If she doesn’t realize who he is, then the only purpose to this story at all is for her to suffer years of torment and abuse with a smile in the hope that cruelty will eventually be won over by kindness (see below).
Cinderella is, as if often the case in traditional fairy tales, a very passive protagonist who is more the object of other people’s actions than someone with agency in her own right. Much of her story is about her maintaining her kindness in the face of years of torment and abuse, which renders her a doormat and even a willing victim; she could, to all appearances, have easily escaped her tormentors, which is not true of real-life similiar situations. Such a simplistic depiction of an abusive relationship reinforces notions that women willingly stay in such relationships.
IS THE FILM’S DIRECTOR FEMALE? No (does not impact scoring)
IS THE FILM’S SCREENWRITER FEMALE? No (does not impact scoring)
BOTTOM LINE: Face abuse with cheeriness? Subsume your individuality and your desires in the hopes that other people will like you? Yearn for nothing at all… unless, maybe, it’s for someone to come and take you away from it all, rather than rescuing yourself? How come we never tell stories about men that sound like this?
NOTE: This is not a “review” of Cinderella! It is simply an examination of how well or how poorly it represents women. (A movie that represents women well can still be a terrible film; a movie that represents women poorly can still be a great film.) Read my review of Cinderella.