The story of Cinderella has been remade numerous of times. Since its first Disney animated version dating back to 1950, a total of twelve other remakes have been released, one even being televised this year. Personally, I grew up with the original edition. Even though it had been about for over half a century by the time I was born, its social impact carried on for over all those years. Anyone with eyes could tell you who Cinderella was by simply seeing her glass slippers. I vividly remember long road trips from when I was a toddler and this exceptional film being played from the car’s TV. So you’d understand my excitement when I was given the opportunity to watch a remake of this story.
The 1997 version of Cinderella was composed by Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein II, directed by Robert Iscove, and came to life through prominent actors such as Brandy, Whitney Houston, and Whoopi Goldberg. The story stays in its traditional course with Cinderella, performed by Brandy, falling in love with the Prince of her kingdom. However, Brandy’s Cinderella is the key contributor to what makes this film truly amazing. Through her astonishing singing, her intriguing lyrics, and her dialogue with other characters, Brandy interrupts the status-quo that other women present. Instead of being the stereotypical girl who is petite and has their every need taken care of for them, Brandy simply wishes to be treated as a regular human.
We are first introduced to Brandy’s character in the setting of a marketplace. In this musical number, “The Sweetest Sounds,” Cinderella sings to her heart’s content about true love that is somewhere out there waiting for her. The upbeat tone in her voice drowns out the insults that her sisters hurl at her. In the middle of her number, one of them state, “Have you ever seen such a lazy girl in your life?” Despite her literally carrying their entire family’s shopping expenses, Cinderella continues on with her song. Already, Brandy breaks what a traditional woman would do in this setting. In this society, the girl is the prize. They take special care of their clothing and beauty to be appealing to men. However, she’s doing quite the opposite. While her sisters and step-mother are dressed in elegant dresses, Cinderella is wearing old, tattered garments. Despite this fact, she continues to sing all across the marketplace as if no one else is present. In the same musical act, she is late joined by the Prince played by Paolo Montalban. Instead of overtaking her melody, Brandy continues to perform right alongside him. Men usually get first priority to everything. In typical circumstances, they speak first. However, Brandy sets her own rules. Though they are practically inches away from each other while singing, both Brandy and the Prince shuffle while looking towards the heavens telling about their wildest dreams of love. At the end of their number, the Prince is without a doubt enraptured by the beauty of Cinderella. Following her across the marketplace, he is practically begging to know more about her. Instead of succumbing to his wishes, Brandy actually moves away from the man. If it was any other woman that the Prince was interacting with in his kingdom, they’d be throwing themselves at him. However, in this case, Brandy is the one being chased. When he states that a girl should be treated like a princess, Brandy responds with, “No. Like a person with kindness and respect.” She does not wish to be a man’s prized possession. She simply wants appreciation for being another human being.
“In my Own Little Corner” is by far my favorite musical number from this film. By the fire is Cinderella’s only quite place in the entire house she resides in. Because it is not by no means pretty and fancy, none of their relatives dare to venture into her private area. However, this does not stop them from yelling from upstairs to demand something from Cinderella. Here, Brandy tells of all her dreams that she wish could come true. The music completely matches the rhythm of Brandy’s singing. In one particular line, Cinderella wishes to be hunting on an African safari. The music does its job very well by seemingly placing watchers onto the campus of Africa as well. In this image, Brandy points her “gun” as if she was actually hunting. While her sisters are getting their beauty rest to be presentable for the Prince at the ball, Cinderella is vividly acting out her imagination. Their thoughts are on their appearance. Brandy does not have a care in the world for such a superficial thing. Her world does not revolve around men. She has goals and dreams that she wants to accomplish that would bring her joy in their own regard.
It is official that I have a new favorite version of Cinderella. Brandy’s character is one that breaks gender norms. Her character is one that is not afraid to speak her mind. Her character is very different from the version of Cinderella that I grew up with. She exemplifies everything that a women in today’s time would be proud of.