Wednesday, January 28, 2015

TRAILER: Cinderella #2

Director Kenneth Branaugh enacted a bold, daring act of genius with his first teaser-trailer he released for the Disney re-make of Cinderella: the glass slipper slowly turning around and catching every facet of light might seem boring to some, but to us, dear reader, we knew exactly what he was doing:
The feet are symbolic of the will: our feet take us in life where we want to go, the way our will takes us to where it is we want to go in life. Glass symbolizes "reflection" of the meditative kind: as a piece of glass (like a mirror) reflects your physical identity, glass symbolically reflects your interior identity through the act of meditation, when you are "reflecting" upon your self. Butterflies, of course, are symbolic of transformation, from the ugly caterpillar to the glorious, colorful creature of flight; it is what each of us must experience at some point in our life, at least once, if we are to truly fulfill our soul's capacity for achieving virtue. Then, there are all of the individual colors which the reflecting cuts of glass cast as various experiences and emotions, each one belonging to the meditative state.
So, what does it mean?
First of all, the two girls. The garish colors and strange hairstyles communicate their lack of virtue, because nothing about them is cohesive, they rather look like weeds then flowers of virtue. The wicked step-mother, in her green shades, communicates that she is rotten. When Ella first sees the prince in the forest, he wears a green jacket, but we can say that his jacket denotes the hope of new life because green symbolizes either the kind of new life we see at spring, or that life has turned sour and rotted, like leftover food in our fridge. For men, we would say that, in order to win the fair maiden, they have to slay the dragon; for women, they have to overcome the evils of the wicked step-mother to be worthy of prince charming (this insures the woman won't herself turn into a woman like the step-mother, rather, that she will become the fair maiden).
Through an act of will (the shoe), Cinderella takes all of her experiences (the various colors reflected by the glass in the light) and mediates upon them, becoming stronger with each experience because she affirms herself rather than let herself to brought down by them. Her constant meditative state allows her inner-beauty to grow, which makes her capable of becoming the butterfly that naturally finds her as a result of her own resolution to continue to the end what it is that she is meant to accomplish and allow herself to be transformed by it. Now we are in a position to watch the second trailer:
Why can the magic last only so long? What kind of a rotten deal is that? It's not a rotten deal, not at all. Everything God gives us comes in "2s," we get the first taste of something, then we have to wait, and then we get the full meal; it's meant to increase the anticipation of life and sustain us until the end; in other words, it's what hope is. Like all great fairy tales, Cinderella is a metaphor of this life and what we must do to get into the next life, heaven. The prince, is the prince of heaven, who waits for us and has prepared his kingdom to receive our souls; "the ball" is a foretaste of what the banquet of heaven will be like for us. The magic ends at the final stroke of mid-night because that signals when the "darkest" part of the soul's journey has started, and the consolation of the ball and the joy is meant to sustain us all on the last, hardest part of the trial (rather like Frodo Baggins in The Lord Of the Rings). All of this is meant, of course, to encourage us on in the drudgery of life we face, just like Cinderella herself. So, what about the fairy godmother?
The fairy godmother first appears as a ragged old woman; why? Because that's generally what we think of when we think of the "work of the Cross." Poverty, shame, solitude, ugliness, etc., all qualities to make us unattractive to the world are exhibited by the fairy godmother, and appear to be exhibited by Ella as well, at least as much as her step-sisters are concerned. Meeting the prince unexpectedly (the forest being a symbol of the "dark night of the soul") is a consolation assuring her that she is loved and, just because she exhibits these qualities on the outside (like the black smudges on her face) that doesn't mean she has them on the inside. In the image above, the fairy godmother wears white, symbolizing faith, hope, innocence and charity; why? Anyone in the world can exercise ordinary virtue--the kind of virtue atheists champion--but it requires the Divine Hand to bestow upon us virtues of Grace, those that reflect God's own Divine Life, like Mother Teresa and innumerable other saints. Before Ella can be wed to the Prince of Peace, she must attain these virtues, but only God can grant them. For me, St. Thomas is my "fairy godmother" because he sees what I need before I do and he prays for me, which prompts me to pray for myself and what I need God to bless me with so I can accomplish what I need to accomplish. Each one of us, then, in this sense, can be a fairy godmother to others, as we pray for them and intercede on their behalf so they "graduate up" from the earthly virtue to divine.
Perhaps you haven't noticed, but today is one of the most important days of the year: January 28. If that doesn't mean anything to you, then you probably are not one, like myself, who calls Thomas Aquinas "patron saint." For all my brothers and sisters, across the world, and even across time, who have benefited from and celebrate today the intercession, example and writings of St. Thomas; he is our "fairy godmother": we see Ella first wear her mother's old pink dress, which has been torn up by the evil step-mother, then we see her transformed completely in the blue dress, designed by her fairy godmother (and I am sure there will be a wedding dress involved at some point). The step-mother (Cate Blanchet) symbolizes "the struggle of the world," while Ella's biological mother symbolizes the "good in the world," (but both women are truly her mother, even the step-mother, because without the evil step-mother, Ella wouldn't learn the hardships of life that she needs to in order to gain virtue). When we see Ella wearing her mother's pink dress, Ella has--at this point--advanced as far as possible in earthly virtue by her mother's example,... but it's not enough, because the struggle of the world--the evil step mother--is stronger than the earthly virtue Ella can obtain (the tearing up of the dress); that's why she needs a fairy godmother.
You know that blue symbolizes both wisdom and depression: wisdom, the greatest of all treasures, is only acquired on the saddest road in life. While the transformation from the pink to the blue dress foreshadows that Ella will have to face hardship and struggle still, it is also the promise of reward  for her trials. Note, please, that the dress if blowing in the wind; we have seen this before in Bernini's statue of David, and the blowing of David's garments and hair in the wind, along with David preparing to throw the rock at Goliath that will send up a bit of wind itself. The wind is one of the many vehicles of the Holy Spirit, denoting His presence and engagement with the situation.
When the fairy godmother asks Ella why she's crying, and Ella tells her that fairy godmothers don't exist, it's because Ella doesn't really believe that she can be anything more than what she sees in herself: in other words, the fairy godmother first appears to Ella as a poor, dirty vagabond, because that's how Ella sees herself. When the fairy godmother transforms, she shows Ella how she is going to transform as well. Ella needs a cheerleader, someone who can show Ella the glorious light at the end of the tunnel waiting for her if she can just make it a little longer.
Don't believe me?
We get a quick glimpse of all the preparations being made for the ball, because even the palace has a higher state of being than just being a palace, as a foretaste of heaven. It's not just about putting your "best foot forward," but about finalizing the state of your soul that it will be in for eternity.
It's probable that the mice we see are going to be transformed into the coachmen and driver, as we have seen in the original Disney animated version; why is this important? Because it demonstrates that all things--even rodents--have a higher state of existence, the ability to reflect the Divine if they so choose; so for the sisters and wicked step-mother, they choose not to, and that is an exercise of their free will (but we will see what happens to them as a result). In the meantime, may St. Thomas Aquinas intercede on our behalf, and encourage us on the long road of virtue and faith.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner