Cinderella Press Conference

Cinderella Press ConferenceThe Cinderella press conference took place in London last week. Director Kenneth Branagh was joined by producers David Barron and Allison Shearmur, costume designer Sandy Powell, and stars Lily James, Richard Madden, and Holliday Grainger to discuss the latest Disney fairy tale…

On costumes in the film…

Sandy Powell: It was a costume designer’s dream. What really struck me was it was a film about girls. A lot of the main characters were girls, and ok there were male characters too, but it was predominantly women which doesn’t happen that often. It was a dream and I ran with it.

Disney's Cinderella

On adapting the story for a modern audience…

David Barron: When Ken [Branagh] mentioned to me that Disney had been in touch about a live action version of Cinderella, I said: “ooh, interesting”. I thought; how do you do something that is relevant for a contemporary audience, and in its own way faithful to the animated classic. Ken had a very clear vision on how to make this a film for today. This central message of courage and kindness… it just seemed that it would work for today and for a contemporary audience.

On Cinderella‘s influences…

Kenneth Branagh:[To be compared with Powell and Pressburger] is a wonderful compliment, because I revere those guys. A huge personal inspiration, that particular partnership.

Sandy Powell: For me, it was the nineteenth century, all over the nineteenth century, bits of the 1940s and 1950s thrown in for the Stepmother. I was looking at those 1940s actresses like Marlene Dietrich, Joan Crawford, and when they were in films made in the 1940s set in the nineteenth century, and I really liked that look for Cate [Blanchett]. For the sisters I went a decade higher to the 1950s fashions, but keeping the nineteenth century look.

Cinderella Lily James

On the character of Cinderella…

Lily James: [She has] this strength can come from within. This dignified strength and grace… that in doing so she finds such joy and happiness in her life regardless of her situation. Even if it’s just talking to little Gus Gus! When I read the script I was just bowled over by the fact that it was such a faithful retelling of the fairy tale without any tricks or twists. It felt really strong. This was a girl I really wanted to play and felt inspired playing.

On the ballroom scene…

Kenneth Branagh: The kind of films that were wonderful to go and visit [for inspiration], apart from Powell and Pressburger were, well we looked at again The Red Shoes, we looked at Gone with the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, Visconti’s The Leopard. We also looked Cyrano de Bergerac, the Rappeneau film for some wonderful camera work, particularly the sweeping shots that end up on close-ups of our heroine. The Age of Innocence is a Scorsese film that I love for its immersion into a world that you can feel, see, taste and touch and smell. Certainly we went to the classics.

Cinderella is released in UK cinemas on 27th March 2015.

An Ephemeral Look at Product Placement

There are plenty of lists detailing the worst product placement in movies; the fantastic Cracked.com’s The 10 Most Shameful Product Placements in Movie History is worth a look in particular. Everyone knows how E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial was originally meant to use M&Ms rather than Reese’s Pieces, and that sales of the latter increased by 85% after the release of the 1982 film (Janet Wasko, Hollywood in the Information Age, 1995, p.190). Rather than compile another list or rehash more facts, I thought I would look at some interesting points (the term ‘highlights’ may be misleading at this juncture, as may the term ‘interesting’) throughout the history of product placement in Hollywood.

The Old Timey Product Placement

Product placement in the movies is nothing new, despite its prominence in the last thirty years. In 1945’s Mildred Pierce, Joan Crawford’s drink of choice was Jack Daniels. The placement of this brand was less obvious than some more recent attempts at promoting drinks.

The Quintessential 80s Product Placement

Part of the reason Santa Claus: The Movie holds a special place in my heart is because of the shameless product placement of those most high-profile of brands; Coca-Cola and McDonald’s. It is made all the more amusing by the fact that the film appears to propagate an anti-capatilist message. The McDonalds product placement complemented the Santa Claus: The Movie Happy Meal toys (as seen in the above advertisement). Product placement tie-ins truly reached a zenith in the mid 1980s.

The Mundane Product Placement

In late 2011, Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol heavily feaured BMW cars. Earlier that year, How Do You Know featured another type of transport. The Metrobus was omnipresent in James L. Brooks’ film. In the movie, this mode of New York transport was punctual, reliable and clean. Only natives of the city can say how reliable this depiction is. As product placements go, it is hardly the most glamorous.

The Greatest Movie Ever Sold is out on DVD from 27th February 2012.