Cinderella. Dir. Sir Kenneth Branagh . Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. 2015.

During Ella’s journey from a happy, sweet child, to the mourning servant of her stepfamily, to cherished wife of the King, her fundamental characteristics are consistent. Her mother tells her to ‘have courage and be kind’. The message is not subtle: this exact phrase is repeated another 9 times in the film. For the sceptics among you who require concrete proof, fear not. Her kindness is also demonstrated throughout Cinderella by her relationships with her ‘animal family’ – indeed, for much of the film, they are her only true family.

The deleted scene above introduces the animals in Ella’s world more lengthily than the final cut. Due to this opening scene being trimmed, Mr. Goose is the first animal we are introduced to through the voiceover: ‘She was the ruler of her own little kingdom […] where her people had lived for generations… with Mr. Goose… and all their animal family’. The accompanying image shows one goose centred in the middle of the screen, facing slightly to the left of the camera, and extended upwards, flapping his wings. As he flaps his wings, the camera pans backwards to reveal more geese surrounding him, all walking from left to right with their faces in profile, and some chickens in the background. Aesthetically, he is no different from the other geese, but through his body positioning and action we are able to identify him as Mr. Goose. Following this, the camera cuts to Ella running down the stairs, then back to the geese. This camera angle is lower, revealing the ducks and chickens which are now in the foreground of the shot. There are fewer geese visible, and they are now all facing the same way: Mr. Goose is indistinguishable from the other geese. Mr. Goose is repeatedly elevated above the other geese throughout the film: it is he who is named at the beginning, and shown physically higher than the other geese. He is the only one to be later transformed into a coachman, and the only goose present on the balcony at Ella and Kit’s wedding. Additionally, none of the other geese are audibly acknowledged. Ella playfully scolds Gus-Gus the mouse for eating the food she had just scattered, but specifies that it ‘Mr. Goose’s food’, as opposed to all the geese’s food.

 Will the real Mr Goose please stand up?

‘Names have power, like magic spells’ in Cinderella: Ella is cruelly transformed into ‘Cinderella’ by her stepmother and stepsisters, before returning to her preferred name – along with the added title of ‘Queen’. The emphasis placed on names does beg the question why Ella’s father ever trusted a lady who decided to name her cat ‘Lucifer’. The choice of name here too is interesting: indeed, Mr. Goose is the only poultry that is named throughout the film. Had the animal simply been called ‘Goose’, it may have seemed impersonal: as if the family were solely keeping geese for their function, rather than as part of their ‘animal family’. However, this is avoided by combining the overall animal name with the title of Mister. The formal address of a title contrasts with the way in which Ella affectionately takes care of the goose as a child, and thus the self-evident name becomes quaint. It also alludes to the figure of the Mother Goose – depending upon who you ask, this is either the imaginary author of a collection of nursery rhymes, or the member of your friendship group who looks after you when you get lairy on a night out. Either way, this image indicates a level of attachment and hints towards a caring nature. The amalgamation of Mother and Mister manages to provide Ella with both a maternal and a paternal figure. In the absence of her parents, the animals continue to provide her with love.

The lady in this Halloween advert could do with a Mother Goose. Or a litre of water and some Paracetamol.

The narration claims that, along with Ella’s family, Mr. Goose had lived at the property for ‘generations’. While there is magic in the story of Cinderella, Mr. Goose is ostensibly a normal goose until the Fairy Godmother temporarily transfigures him into a man. If we assume that his lifespan is the same as any other goose, then Mr. Goose becomes a representative not only for his own species, but for all the animals kept by Ella’s ancestors. Through his self-evident name and visual elevation, he becomes an exemplification of the longevity of Ella’s family’s tradition of caring for animals. Mr. Goose and the other animals are physical manifestations of the family’s heritage, which is now coming to an end. They demonstrate the ways in which she manage to remain true to herself and act out her family’s beliefs. As Ella’s kin pass away and she enters into a different kind of tradition, she retains her relationship with the animals, bringing some to her wedding and treating them with kindness throughout.

An hon(k)oured guest at the Royal Wedding – hopefully it won’t end the same way Richard Madden’s last fictional wedding did.
Not the universe crossover that Game of Thrones fans were hoping for.