Ever After: A Cinderella Story (1998)

everafter

Food: This Friday, I went to Song’ E Napule NYC in the West Village, which is a quaint little spot facing the street with an authentic Italian atmosphere, complete with Juventas flags draped across the ceiling. We split a bottle of Chianti, the Gnocchi Sorrentina (Homemade potatoes dumpling with tomato sauce, mozzarella, Parmesan and basil) and the Margherita pizza. It was the perfect amount of food to split and a great place to eat especially when the weather is nice.

Film: “Ever After: A Cinderella Story” (1998) is an updated adaptation of the classic folk tale, “Cinderella” or also known as “The Little Glass Slipper.” Rhodopis, a story about a Greek slave girl who marries the king of Egypt a Greek story recounted by the geographer Strabo, is thought to be the origin. However, the first European version of the story was published in Italy by Giambattista Basile in 1634. Another early version of the story was included in the collection of fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm in 1812. All versions chronicle unjust oppression and triumphant reward. Its a tale as old as time and has been recounted in numerous films, but the most popular in modern culture is the Disney animation, where Cinderella has mouse friends, a fairy godmother and a pumpkin carriage. “Ever After” foregoes the magical elements and grounds the story in reality, focusing on classism, education, feminism, and Leonardo Da Vinci.

Drew Barrymore plays Danielle, our Cinderella, who is forced to work as a servant for her step-mother and two step sisters after her father dies quickly after their marriage. She is a rough and tough tomboy who gets mud on her dresses and holds tightly to the books her father brought home to her as a kid. One afternoon while working in the field, a man rides in on a stolen horse, so Danielle launches some apples at him, only to discover that he is actually the prince. This is the start of many interactions to come.

Danielle courageously dresses as a noble and fights to free one of her fellow servants from being wrongly shipped away. She strongly advocates for the rights of proletariat including a plight for the democratization of education. Her passion for literature draws Prince Henry’s attention as he continues to seek her out, under the pseudonym she gave him (the name of her mother). “You have more conviction in your one memory than I have in my entire being,” he exclaims.

The film highlights the strong willed nature of Danielle, and depicts a variety of female characters. The women in the film are written with subtle complexity and shown in various roles. Anjelica Huston is excellent as the heartless step mother, charming and manipulating those around her to get her way. It is always enjoyable to watch a confident, outspoken and intelligent woman lead a fairy tale, but “Ever After” succeeds in establishing her intricately, so she never feels like a cliché.

Further, unlike some of the other depictions of this tale, where the Prince and Cinderella have minimal interactions and his adoration for her is built off of his attraction to her, this one gives the two ample time to build the foundation of a real bond, making their mutual love for each other more believable. The only thing masked is her true name and status.

There is some comedic moments and charming surrounding characters, namely Leonardo Da Vinci is the stand-in for “fairy god mother” as he is a friend to Prince Henry, and empowers Danielle to pursue their relationship. Overall, the plot of “Ever After: A Cinderella Story” is nothing new, but director Andy Tennett breathes life into it in the details and has created a really charming film that continues to enchant audiences 20 years later.

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