Ever After : For the Fairy Tale Blogathon

My Friday blogs are usually about a classic (old) movie that I enjoyed and want others to know about and try to see.  Today’s blog is also about a movie, but  a newer one, 1998’s Ever After, a refreshing new look at Cinderella, starring Drew Barrymore as the main character.  Today’s blog is also my contribution for  The Fairy Tale Blogathon, hosted by Movies Silently.  Be sure to visit that site to read other great pieces written by other bloggers,  for a look at fairy tales in the movies.

Fairy tale blogathon

Ever After opens  with two gentlemen leaving a carriage to enter a beautiful chateau.  They are none other than the Brothers Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm(Joerg Stadler, Andy Henderson).  They have arrived at this chateau to interview Grande Dame Marie Therese(Jeanne Moreau) to compare their story of Cinderella with what she knows about the true story of Cinderella.  The Grande Dame is descended from the real Cinderella, whose real  name was Danielle de Barbarac.  Out of a treasure box, the Grande Dame takes out the glass slipper(designed for the film by Salvatore Ferragamo) and from that point forward the real story of Cinderella is told via flashback.

Ever After poster 1

Famous French actress Jeanne Moreau is Grande Dame Marie Therese

Famous French actress Jeanne Moreau is Grande Dame Marie Therese

The beautiful glass slipper

The beautiful glass slipper

 

Drew Barrymore is Danielle.  She plays the part with sincerity, courage, bravado, a lot of  smarts, and some necessary sass.  This isn’t a retelling of the Disney animated version so there are no songs, no pumpkin is magically changed into a carriage, no mice become horses, no fairy godmother.  This version is told as  historical fiction; a story that  the Brothers Grimm researched and then  changed into a  fairy tale.

Danielle and her beloved Papa

Danielle and her beloved Papa

We first meet Danielle when she is 8 years old.  She is eagerly awaiting the arrival of her beloved Papa(Jeroen Krabbe) and his new wife and her two little daughters.  Danielle is a smart girl, a tomboy, and she gets into a mud battle with her neighboring playmate, Gustave, which  doesn’t make  a good impression on her new stepmother, Rodmilla de Ghent(Anjelica Huston) or her two daughters, Marguerite and Jacqueline.  Papa gives Danielle a book as a gift: Sir Thomas More’s Utopia.  He also tells her he has to go away for a week on another business trip but to use that time to get to know her stepmother and stepsisters better.  Danielle promises to try and on the morning of her papa’s departure, he falls from his horse as he nears the main gate to his property, and dies of a heart attack.  Amid Danielle’s broken-hearted sobs, stepmother Rodmilla is crying, but crying out for Auguste to  not die and leave her in this new place alone.  We begin to see the true nature of Rodmilla in this scene.  She notices as Auguste lays dying that he strokes Danielle’s face and tells her he loves her, but he doesn’t tell Rodmilla anything so dear.  That will lead to her jealousy of Danielle, and we see how much Rodmilla dislikes the new home and community that she has moved to.

Anjelica Huston has a field day playing the evil stepmother, Rodmilla

Anjelica Huston has a field day playing the evil stepmother, Rodmilla

Marguerite, the mean stepsister(Megan Dodds) and Jacqueline, the nice stepsister(Melanie Lynskey)

Marguerite, the mean stepsister(Megan Dodds) and Jacqueline, the nice stepsister(Melanie Lynskey)

The film then jumps ahead 10 years and now Danielle is 18, working as a hired hand at her own home, and she has to bravely fight off a man who is trying to steal one of her late papa’s horses.  She succeeds to knock the thief from the horse with some well aimed apples and the thief reveals himself to be Prince Henry(Dougray Scott) who is on the run.  His father, King Francis,(Timothy West) has arranged Henry’s marriage to a Spanish princess and Henry wants no part of it.  Running away is Henry’s solution and he needs a fresh horse.  Danielle immediately apologizes for her behavior to the prince and he forgives her, and hands her a bag of gold coins to cover the cost of  the horse.  Danielle rejoices at receiving the coins and shows them to the two older ladies in her house’s kitchen.  A husband of one of the ladies  had been recently sold as a slave to cover some of Rodmilla’s debts, and Danielle puts on her finest dress and goes to the King’s castle herself, with the coins, to buy back her servant before he is shipped away to America.  In arguing for her servant to be freed, Prince Henry arrives back at the castle after being caught by his father’s men, and Henry decides to debate this new maiden about poverty, about those who turn to a life of crime, and a rich man’s responsibilities to his fellow “rustics” as he calls them.  Henry doesn’t recognize Danielle in her finery and he is intrigued by this “mystery” girl.  He tries to find out her name and Danielle lies, telling the Prince that she is Comtesse Nicole de Lancret, her mother’s maiden name.    As he is about  to make a date to visit this girl, his mother, Queen Marie(Judy Parfitt-now playing the addle-headed nun on Call the Midwives!) arrives to greet him and Danielle successfully uses this moment to slip away from Henry and his prying questions, and escape a date with him.

The Royal Family: King Francis(Timothy West), Prince Henry(Dougray Scott), and Queen Marie(Judy Parfitt)

The Royal Family: King Francis(Timothy West), Prince Henry(Dougray Scott), and Queen Marie(Judy Parfitt)

Danielle apologizing for knocking Prince Henry off the horse

Danielle apologizing for knocking Prince Henry off the horse

Danielle debating Prince Henry after rescuing her servant

Danielle debating Prince Henry after rescuing her servant

Danielle has 3 servants loyal to her: Maurice, Paulette, and Louise.  They aid her a lot, especially when she is freed from a pantry/dungeon by none other than Leonardo DaVinci(yes, that DaVinci!) and her childhood pal, Gustave. Danielle-pretending to be Comtesse Nicole, does have several dates with Prince Henry which cause them to fall in love with one another and they also get to battle a band of Gypsies!  There is also a  villain in this film, Pierre Le Pieu(Richard O’Brien), and he is  creepy and evil.   He wants Danielle to be his wife due to the land and house that she owns that can be added to his coffers.    Danielle is, of course, able to outwit this baddie.  He comes into the film in the last half hour and he’s so crude as he tries to seduce Danielle that  for this reason, I cannot recommend Ever After for the entire family to see.  I would say teens and adults can, but not the kiddies!  Perhaps fast-forward thru the scenes with the icky Pierre if kids are watching this film with you.

Pierre Le Pieu- Ever After's evil baddie

Pierre Le Pieu- Ever After’s evil baddie

Danielle's new friend, Leonardo DaVinci, with the painting she inspired him to create

Danielle’s new friend, Leonardo DaVinci, with the painting she inspired him to create

Danielle's pal, Gustave

Danielle’s pal, Gustave

Danielle's loyal servants greeting the rescued Maurice

Danielle’s loyal servants greeting the rescued Maurice

Other than Pierre, I really enjoyed this movie.  It was filmed on location in France, with many scenes shot in the outdoors with natural lighting that shows the sparkling sun, scarlet and golden leaves falling from the trees, the french countryside.  It’s a very pretty film to view.  The costumes and sets are period perfect and Huston gets to wear some  sky-high headdresses!

As I said, Barrymore is spot on with a Cinderella that is refreshing and not the singing girl who is demure and can get mice to sew her a dress.  The rest of the cast are also excellent in their roles.  Anjelica Huston is the evil stepmother,at first  displaying her evil nature in sneaky, quiet ways, but growing more physical in her meanness as the story advances.    Megan Dodds plays Marguerite as a mean, snot of a girl.  Melanie Lynskey plays Jacqueline as a nicer stepsister who knows her mom and sister are bad, but is clueless as to how she can stop their wrong ways.    Dougray Scott is rugged and dashing as Prince Henry, but he is also  a conflicted young man.  He wants to live his life on his own terms, find his own wife,  but also wants to show respect to his parents.  He loves Comtesse Nicole(Danielle) and at the same time  is exasperated  and challenged by her intellect  and the debates they always seem to fall into.  I think it was  a coup for the casting agents to get the superb French actress Jeanne Moreau to play the Grande Dame, who opens the film and brings it to a satisfying close.   Yes, this film does have the ultimate Happily Ever After ending, but there are a few detours that pop up before that ending arrives.  The screenplay was written by Susannah Grant, Rick Parks, and Andy Tennant, who also directed the film.  It was a Mireille Soria production and released to theatres by 2oth Century Fox.   I have to also recognize the music for this film, by George Fenton.  It was beautiful, medieval sounding at times, and exciting during various chase scenes.  It just enhanced the flow of the film so well.

I was able to view Ever After through the magic of my Roku box and Amazon Prime streaming. It is probably available at your local movie dvd renting store, it’s at Amazon.com for purchase and a kind soul has put the movie up on Youtube in 10 minute installments.

I’ll close with some more scenes from this delightful look at a classic fairy tale.

Danielle pretending to be the Comtesse on a date with Prince Henry

Danielle pretending to be the Comtesse on a date with Prince Henry

Danielle finally arrives at the Ball

Danielle finally arrives at the Ball

Happily Ever After

Happily Ever After

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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22 responses to this post.

  1. It’s great to discover a fellow fan of this film. I own it and have re-watched it many times.I like that the heroine is not only spunky and loyal, but a big reader. How much fun is Huston in this film? I always get the feeling that she’s having such a blast with this role.

    Reply

  2. I’ve always taken this film for granted, and now I regret. It sounds really cool, and not mainstream chick flick as I imagined. I’m gonna give it a try, especially now that I know it is about a strong Cinderella!
    Don’t forget to read my contribution to the blogathon! 🙂
    Greetings!
    http://www.criticaretro.blogspot.com.br/2014/11/variacoes-sobre-um-mesmo-tema-snow.html

    Reply

  3. Great review! I really liked this version of Cinderella (and is my favorite Drew Barrymore movie, so that’s a bonus). The movie is due for a re-watch on my part.

    Reply

  4. This is one of my favorite versions of Cinderella. It gets everything right about the fairy tale while also turning Cinderella into a strong heroine. Great review!! 🙂

    Reply

  5. Very nice review! This is one of my favorite movies growing up. I loved Drew Barrymore and her adorable California Girl/British accent. 🙂

    Reply

  6. I like this film a lot–the costumes especially were just beautifully done. They seem more “authentic” than some period costumes do (“Let’s mishmash the styles of 6 medieval centuries, add a dash of Party City, and call it a day!” Err, no.)

    Reply

  7. I’m fascinated by the idea of working backwards from the fairy tale to create an historical fiction. This sounds like a very entertaining and interesting film.

    Reply

  8. I’m glad you wrote about this one. It is one of my daughter’s favorites and I like the way Drew Barrymore played Danielle as a capable and intelligent woman. You are right that the creepy bad guy makes the movie unsuitable for the very young, which is a shame. Thanks for sharing this with us.

    Reply

  9. Can’t believe I haven’t seen this! I’m a fan of Drew Barrymore AND Anjelica Huston. (I can only imagine how fab she is as the evil stepmother.) You have inspired me to watch this ASAP!

    Reply

  10. Drew Barrymore is well cast in this, I like the edge she brings to the role – tough yet compassionate. The costumes and sets are so luxuriant and really help to create a fantastical world. I think you’ve inspired me to re-watch this!

    Reply

    • Oh I am glad! I had an enjoyable time re watching it with my twin daughters. They’re 14, and it was their first time to see this film. They enjoyed it but they didn’t think Dougray Scott was cute enough!

      Reply

  11. Very nicely written. However, even though you didn’t like the villain Pierre, it’s worth noting that he is played by Richard O’Brien, the creator and co-star of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”

    Reply

  12. Ah! This sends me back a few years. Mother-daughter day at the movies when I was a young sprout. Thanks so much for the affectionate review!

    Reply

  13. This is such an enchanting film. I really enjoyed the post!

    Reply

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