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Cinderella: Once Upon A Time The story of Cinderella has appealed to a number of audiences since its earliest dated version in A. D. 850. Even with the extensive selection of fairy tales in existence, Cinderella is undoubtedly the best known in the world, with over 700 versions of this story available. However, this popularity is not limited strictly to literature, for the Cinderella theme is also seen in many movie productions. Two movies, Walt Disneys Cinderella and Andy Tennant's Ever After: A Cinderella Story, are of particular interest. These films share many similarities, both in the screenplay and in the visual effects, but a vast difference exists between the two.
Though both teach that goodness will ultimately triumph over evil and villainy, Ever Afters depiction of the characters presents a better moral lesson for our society by showing that independence and intelligence are just as important as goodness. Throughout history, as evidenced by Perault and the Grimm Brothers, Cinderella has typically been portrayed as the girl who obeys without complaining. She is characterized to be a perfect woman, both in purity and in beauty. All stories are somewhat influenced by the times in which they are written, and Cinderella is no exception. In fact, the date in which Disneys Cinderella was released, 1950, most likely played a significant role in this particular Cinderellas success.
After the years of poverty and struggle of the Great Depression and World War II, America wanted a change. Instead of being reminded of the past, this generation wanted to look toward the future as a time of happiness, success, and stability. Cinderella gave them this chance. Its ideals are simple and follow the morality themes of ordinary fairy tales: if one is pure and follows his or her conscience, ones dreams will come true. Disney adheres to the typical portrayal of Cinderella as the perfect woman. In the Disney movie, she is young, innocent, and pure.
More importantly, she plays a sweet, innocent girl with whom no one can find a fault. She accepts her circumstances, and makes the best of them, no matter how dire and unfavorable. Though she is a servant in her own home, with her stepfamily ordering her about, her only response to this abuse is, I know it isnt easy, but we should at least try and get along together. Cinderella does not take an active role in changing her situation. Instead, she gets through each day with the belief that her dreams will come true and she will fall in love with a man and be rescued from her troubles by him. Even after many years, she takes the orders of her stepmother and stepsisters quietly, while never letting her hopes fall, as evidenced in a line of her song, If you keep on believing, the dream that you wish will come true.
This is part of the predetermined role of women advocated by people in the decade the movie was released. The Disney movie ties into the many female stereotypes of the time, as evidenced by one of the lines of a female mouse: Leave the sewing to the women! when a male mouse tries to help with the construction of Cinderellas dress. Needless to say, many other attractions make Disneys Cinderella a favorite among many. As was the case during the period in which this film was released, beauty is an all-time audience enticement.
Cinderellas blond hair and Barbie doll figure generates yet another standard viewers would like to live up to. Almost half a century later, the movie Ever After proves that the Cinderella story is still a crowd-pleaser. The similarities between Disney and Tennant's interpretations are abundant, down to the way the viewer first sees the grown-up Cinderella whose name is changed to Daniella in this production; light shining on her sleeping face through the window immediately drawing the audience towards her beauty and innocence. However, the differences are even more significant. Though Tennant's portrayal of all the characters is unique, his depiction of Cinderella characterization gives evidence as to how Americas standards have changed. The audience is introduced to Daniella as a young tomboy who enjoys reading the philosophical books her father brings her.
Ten years later, though her recklessness has faded away, both her courage and her passion for books have blossomed, revealing a mature and intelligent young lady. Instead of hoping that her prince will one day come to rescue her, this girl takes each day in stride, hoping that she can somehow gain the love of the only mother [she] has ever known, for even though her stepmother treats her badly, Daniella still looks to her as a mother figure. For Daniella knows that one day she will be free of her servitude when one of her stepsisters marries Prince Henry and they all leave the manor. Knowing that lashing out may only prolong their stay and provoke their anger, she submits to her stepfamily's wishes. This endurance and diligence is promoted through both films, though to different extents. Both Cinderellas are silent sufferers, but they have different motivations that get them through their lives.
However, the signifying difference between the Disney and Tennant productions is that Tennant's Cinderella is both intelligent and witty. Unlike Disneys Cinderella, who earns the undying affection of the prince immediately after he sees her across the ballroom, Ever Afters prince does not fall in love with her at first glance. Instead, he becomes interested in her only after he hears her defend her beliefs while quoting from Sir Thomas Moores Utopia, her favorite book. This intelligence of hers provokes the prince to confide in her. Though love-at-first-sight will remain the dream of most romantic stories for ages, Ever After is more realistic in the sense that the two main characters fall in love after getting to know each other. It also gives a better liberating example, demonstrating to young women that intelligence, not only beauty, is key.
In Disneys Cinderella, the prince rescues the helpless Cinderella from her hardship. Though the prince in Ever After does the same by marrying Daniella and bringing her to live in the castle, he is also in turn rescued. Before he meets her, he cares little for the everyday rustics and only associates with the noblemen and ladies of the kingdom. Daniella teaches him that one should not give characteristics to a certain person because of his or her station, but to look past the title to see the true individual. The prince later admits to Daniella that he does not wish to be king.
She then repeats what his mother already told him, saying, But think of all the wonderful things you could do for your country, for the world... You have been born to privilege and with that comes specific obligations. Showing that she has the intelligence to be a queen, Daniella does not play the helpless maiden but instead takes action and helps others as well as herself. The main event that both stories lead up to is the royal ball. Both Cinderellas have help in arriving at the ball, but they come in vastly different ways. Disney has mice and a fairy godmother come to Cinderellas aid.
While she stands and watches, the fairy godmother uses her magic wand to put everything in place. Ever Afters godmother comes in the form of Leonardo Da Vinci, the artist-in-residence at the palace. Spouting his radical ideas, he encourages Daniella to go to the ball so that she can reveal to the prince that she has deceived him by pretending to be a courtier. Once she gathers her courage, she goes to the ball, with help from her fellow servants. Tennant does not rely on magic in this version, because one of the lessons of Ever After is that one can succeed through his or her own determination and some encouragement from the people around us.
Even when the prince first rejects her for being a servant, it is not Daniella's loss, but the princes. Da Vinci scolds him, saying, Then, you dont deserve her. Da Vinci knows that the prince is not as strong as Daniella and therefore he needs her more than she needs him, though the outward appearance may seem otherwise. This is more evidence of the independence people in the 21 st century encourage in both women and men. Walt Disneys Cinderella and Andy Tennant's Ever After are both based on the original Cinderella stories. However, because both of them were released in very different times, many differences mark the two versions, though they keep many of the key elements that appeal to such a wide audience over the centuries.
In both stories, Cinderella is a beautiful, young lady with a kind heart. Ever After, however, adds intelligence and courage to these qualities. Leading into the 21 st century, these additions make Cinderella a much more modern and appealing role model for both the female and male audiences. Cinderella triumphs over her evil stepfamily in Ever After by playing an active role in receiving her freedom and by demonstrating to the viewer that knowledge is just as important a trait as goodness. Even though Cinderella and her prince live happily ever after in both Disney and Tennant's depictions, how each girl got to the point of this ever-famous phrase has dramatically changed with the times.
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