Before I post my review of the latest Disney Cinderella I thought I would share with all of you my reviews of 4 other Cinderella movies over the years. I love the story of Cinderella because at its core is the human need to be rescued from time to time. Some may see this as feminine frailty being celebrated but I believe all of us need rescue from the dark times of our lives. In fact, Cinderella is not rescued by the Prince. She is rescued from this terrible situation from another woman. And why is she rescued? Because she is hard working, faithful and kind.
Cinderella is also a message about hope and that if you are a good person, a good friend who works hard eventually good things will happen to you. It is for these reasons the story has lasted for centuries and permeated every medium of storytelling including literature, theater and of course the movies.
When I first started my youtube channel I did a defense of Cinderella and reviewed 4 different versions, which I believe show the versatility of the story. Many think only of the 1950 Disney animated version which I love (#3 in my Disney Canon ranking). But the other 3 versions I reviewed are unique in other ways and all a lot of fun to watch. I would encourage you to hunt them down and watch them as you watch the latest version and let me know what you think.
Like I said, these videos were just when I was starting so the audio isn’t perfect but the content is I believe pretty solid. I will summarize a little bit before each video in case you prefer it written than in a video form.
The first is the 1950 Disney Cinderella. This version has the best music and is the most artistically beautiful of any version to date. The backgrounds are especially lovely. Scenes like the bubbles in Sing Sweet Nightangale are gorgeous and the way Lady Tremaine is drawn with the green eyes makes her one of Disney’s best villains ever. She is completely unsympathetic and gets her self esteem in life out of ruining the life of another human being. Yet Cinderella stays positive and hopeful until the dress, made by her loving friends, is destroyed and it is completely devastating. Despite all that has happened to her this is the first time she is hopeless and it is then when the rescue comes. Verna Felton is so great as the Fairy Godmother and I love this interchange:
There’s nothing left to believe in. Nothing.
Fairy Godmother: Nothing, my dear? Oh, now you don’t really mean that.
Cinderella: Oh, but I do…
Fairy Godmother: Nonsense, child. If you’d lost all your faith, I couldn’t be here. And here I am.
In a lot of ways it is similar to the message of Pinocchio. ‘When you wish upon a star makes no difference who you are…anything your heart desires will come to you”. Does that mean you just sit and wait? No and that’s not what Cinderella does. She works really hard and in the end good things happen in a way that is unexpected. It has nothing to do with her marrying a Prince but escaping a rather Hellish existence and being free.
The Glass Slipper is a very different version of Cinderella because unlike the Disney version Cinderella is kind of a jerk. She’s stubborn and willful and picks fights with everyone around her. Played by Leslie Caron she insists she is going to end up in the palace and everybody thinks she’s a nut. Then she meets the Prince in the mountains and thinks he is the Baker’s son. She thinks he is making fun of her and throws him into the lake. They meet on several occasions and he’s bewitched by her ‘sad eyes’.
The main strength of this version is the amazing dancing. Leslie Caron is of courses famous for her being an incredible dancer and in this film they have 2 full ballets done by Roland Petit and the Ballet de Paris. For those that want a more headstrong determined Cinderella this might be a favorite of yours! I love dance so I love it.
The Slipper and the Rose
Slipper and the Rose is a unique musical version of the Cinderella story with songs by the Sherman Brothers. The songs are more like nuttiness of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang than the Sherman Brothers more mainstream musicals like Mary Poppins or The Jungle Book. The lyrics are very funny and all of the performances are campy and silly but entertaining. There are also a lot of unique touches to the story like the Prince and Cinderella actually get engaged for a period but Cinderella is convinced it would not be good for the kingdom for Prince to marry a commoner. She is exiled but lives quite peacefully without the Prince quite happy to be free from her burdens.
Eventually the Prince agrees to marry out of duty despairing of finding Cinderella and she must decide whether to go back and stop the wedding. Kind of a different take on the story and I like it! But the main appeal on this one is the music and all the humor.
Ever After is a very modern take on Cinderella story. For starters there is no magic of any kind. It is also the only version with a male Fairy Godmother figure in Leonardo Divinci. Drew Barrymoore plays a girl named Danielle who ends up a servant to the terrific Anjelica Huston who is very sympathetic as the stepmother who married a strange out of necessity and then was expected to care for his daughter. The Prince and Danielle meet early on and it is a very academic courtship. They go to a romantic library covered in vines and spar over Utopian philosophy and the value of human freedom.
Drew Barrymoore and Dougray Scott have great chemistry together and it is the only version where he is the one who is devastated by her pretending to be someone she is isn’t. That isn’t even addressed in other versions. It takes him a while to agree to forgive her and by that time she is sold and whipped but in the end she doesn’t need rescue, but rescues herself which I think is a cool spin on the story. It’s an extremely satisfying version and may be my favorite live action. They all have parts I love.
Have you guys seen any of these versions? I would love to know your thoughts. If not, go check them out. They are great movies and it is fascinating to see the same story taken in such different ways. Is there a version I have missed that you enjoy. Last year we had Anna Kendrick as Cinderella in Into the Woods which I enjoyed
And my review of 2015 Cinderella is coming up next… 🙂