Have I mentioned that I am Cinderella obsessed? Another obsession? you say. Yes indeed, but this one goes way back, all the way to my dolls and Disney movies days.
What is it about Cinderella that has captured my heart and the hearts of millions of others? The reasons are obvious. First we all love an underdog and seeing that underdog emerge victorious over the forces that would keep her down. Second, what girl doesn’t want to burst from a cocoon of awkward childhood and adolescence to become the beautiful princess we all know is hiding inside? Finally, everyone wants the world ruled by a prince who is handsome and honest and capable and caring, with a beautiful virtuous, kind and generous wife by his side. *Sigh*
This new movie will join a long list of other film versions I have loved, each with its own take on the story while being true to its spirit. The first was the animated Disney version which gave us our first musical experience. This Cinderella was luckier than many of the others because her animal friends could talk and sew and help with her chores, a perfect situation for an early childhood imagination.
My next great love was the Rodgers and Hammerstein version which appeared annually on TV. Lesley Ann Warren’s doe-eyed Cinderella was the perfect combination of beauty and innocence, Stuart Damon’s prince was stunningly handsome and masculine in spite of the tights, and Celeste Holmes was absolutely perfect as the kind, generous fairy godmother. I often think of this one as I have become-not Cinderella-one of the stepsisters with her creaking knees.
As an adult I discovered Ever After with Drew Barrymore and Doug Ray Scott. This Cinderella was bold and sassy with a mind of her own and decidedly forward-thinking, democratic ideals. Doug Ray Scott’s prince was not perfect, but suffered from a lack of direction and motivation which Drew Barrymore’s Cinderella provided in spades. She was spunky and determined and I loved her even more than the perfect, albeit helpless, princess of my youth. I also loved that her fairy godmother is Leonardo da Vinci. How ’bout them apples?
Finally, though there are dozens of others, is Ella Enchanted. Anne Hathaway is just as doe-eyed as Lesley Ann Warren, but she is no withering flower. She is a woman with contemporary values no matter the setting of the story. And what is the worst thing you can do to a contemporary woman? Deprive her of her self determination. Unlike the other incarnations of Cinderella, this Ella has been visited with a curse that forces her to comply with every command given by everyone she meets. Her triumph is particularly satisfying, though I could pass on the musical number at the end. And the great thing about her prince (Hugh Dancy)? Even before her curse is broken, he doesn’t try to order her around.
Now on to the new Cinderella…