In keeping with my new resolution to be more musical, I put on a CD while I fed the girlies some breakfast. What could be more cheerful and carefree as The Slipper and the Rose soundtrack? The silly songs and romantic melodies took me back into my childhood, remembering my awe of the French Revolution period costumes, the white wigs, the delicate young girl turned into a servant who somehow still looked a bit "come hither" in her peasant garb, and a tall prince whose eyes were spaced too far apart to look completely human. With a mouth full of cheerios, Buttercup began pelting me with questions. "Who is this singing?" "What is she singing about?" "Why does she miss the prince?" "Does the prince love Cinderella?" "Will they get married?" etc. etc. Although Buttercup is familiar with Disney's version of Cinderella, she was aware that this was a different version and was anticipating plot twists. During Cinderella's woeful ballad, Once I Was Loved, Buttercup declared that this was her favorite song! and while listening to the Prince and his sidekick sing What a Comforting Thing to Know, she stated that this was Daddy's favorite song. Huh.
Anywho, I got thinking of all the different versions of Cinderella there are, how the story is so timeless that it is done again and again. And still, some of the stories keep us on our toes just as much as Buttercup was this morning, wondering when and if the Prince and Cinderella will have a happy, romantic ending. For me, Disney's Cinderella is the fairy tale Bible. It is the original version to go back to for story facts, truths, and basics. For most children, this movie is their introduction to the Cinderella story.
A few years after my initial Cinderella cinematic experience, I viewed The Slipper and the Rose. Much joy followed as I learned all the songs and mimicked the dancing and voice influxions. Jayni, my cousin Liz, and I would rewind all the love songs and sing them together over and over. What makes this particular version unique is Cinderella's self-sacrifice for the Kingdom (because apparently if she marries the Prince, their nation will go to war and cease to exist), by having the Prince's steward relay to the Prince that Cinderella left him because she was heartless and wicked. Ah, the drama! Nevertheless, Prince Charming finds Cinderella wherever she has been hidden and they unite eternally in wedded bliss.
A friend introduced me to the Roger and Hammerstein version in my pre-teens. After The Slipper and the Rose I wasn't impressed. Sure, it was all a bit witty, but there was no real depth of emotion or plot involved. It does deserve a nod since Julie Andrews starred in the original, but after casting Brandy of all people in the strangely politically correct modern version, I don't waste my time with it.
Ever After came out my sophomore year of high school, and I remember it well. It is always shocking to me to think of how much I loathe Drew Barrymore, and yet I love several of her movies! In Ever After I was able to look past Drew's terrible accent and acting abilities and focus on more important things--like Dougray Scott. I watched this movie over and over, soaking in the period costuming, and the more interesting plot. The prince actually has a name--Henry--as well as a personality in this film. He became less an objective goal (such as wealth, station, riches, and the all-encompassing love), and more of a human with goals and a journey of his own throughout the story. This was not a man with salamander-like eyes; he was a man a girl could fall in love with. And I did.
I'm not sure which of the two came out next--Ella Enchanted or A Cinderella Story--but despite the obvious title of the latter, I favor the creativity of the former as being more "cinderella-ish". Ella Enchanted is placed in a magic medieval time period, bumped up with modern mannerisms. Anne Hatheway does a fantastic job of portraying the pitiable but likable Ella, who is bound by a curse to always be obedient. Ella is quite a liberal for her setting, and shapes the plot as she attempts to convince Prince Char that he can change the kingdom for the better. For me this movie is a must-have, fun to watch and giggle about with sisters and girlfriends. In contrast, I found A Cinderella Story to be cliche and predictable--only different by adding highschool and technology. There were a few good laughs over the over-glamourized stepmother and dense stepsisters, but the acting was borderline cheesy, and let's face it, Hillary Duff learned the bulk of her acting skills on the Disney Channel--never a good recommendation.
Did I cover them all? I hope so; I hope there aren't any more in the making out there for awhile. We need a break from Cinderella, and it might be fun to delve into some new stories. My advice for those endevoring to recreate a fairy tale? Awesome costumes, mix the story up a bit (more character depth etc.), and hott men. Good luck.