Amazon recently released a new version of the classic fairytale Cinderella, starring Camila Cabello, newcomer Nicholas Galitzine, Billy Porter, and a lot of recognizable songs. The story of a girl forced into servitude by her stepmother until she catches the eye of a prince is a familiar one, but how does this new version compare to the other period adapatations that have already been released?
Yes, period adaptations. Sorry, A Cinderella Story.
Well, you’re about to find out, and you might be surprised by the details that pop up more than once.
This is the Disney classic animated film that we all know from childhood. The visual references we associate the most with this fairytale start here– the helpful mice, the expanding pumpkin, the chiming clock, the glass slipper. The basis for this version is the Charles Perrault story published in 1697, and it is a delightful viewing experience. The songs, especially, prove memorable, with the indelible “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo” and the sweet “So This is Love” being just two of them. This one is definitely safely ensconsed in Disney’s “original classic” era alongside other famous fairytales like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
Cinderella (1950) is streaming on Disney+.
RODGERS AND HAMMERSTEIN’S CINDERELLA (1965 and 1997)
Surprisingly written originally for TV in the 1950s, the famous musical duo of Rodgers and Hammerstein created song-filled romance that has been filmed for the small screen more than once. The first aired in 1965 starring Lesley Anne Warren, future soap actor Stuart Damon, and (unexpectedly) classic Hollywood veterans Celeste Holm, Ginger Rogers, and Walter Pidgeon. Despite the cast, this version is stagey beyond belief, with the sets being particularly cringe-worthy. 1997 audiences fared better. This production was a pioneer of color-blind casting, with professional singers Brandy and Whitney Houston as Cinderella and the Fairy Godmother, supported by Whoopi Golberg and Victor Garber as the Queen and King, as well as Bernadette Peters herself. Just try not to go around humming “Impossible things are happening every day” after seeing this one.
EVER AFTER (1998)
This adaptation is probably the best live-action production of this group. It stars Drew Barrymore, Dougray Scott, and Anjelica Huston, and it is also lavishly produced, with gorgeous locations, sets, and costumes. The iconic Grimm Brothers make their presence felt in this version, too, appearing briefly in the framing scenes of the film, though their story (remember, it’s the dark one with the stepsisters cutting off pieces of their feet to make the slipper fit and things like that) is not the basis for the film. This one is more realistic, though, with no magical elements, and the closest thing to a fairy godmother here is Leonardo da Vinci! The heroine is also strongly drawn and modern, an invaluable asset for a tale like this. The acting is another highlight, including the chemistry between Barrymore and Scott.
Ever After is streaming on Disney+.
ELLA ENCHANTED (2004)
The source material for this one is a children’s novel by Gail Carson Levine, though the film is quite different. Anne Hathaway plays the lead, with Hugh Dancy as Prince Charmont and Cary Elwes as the villain. The tone of this production is conspicuously campy and anachronistic. Intentionally so. And the result is still entertaining. Eric Idle pops up as a cheeky narrator, there are jokey modern references like Batox instead of Botox, and engaging musical numbers. What grounds the silliness here is Ella’s personal conflict, as she is dealing with a “gift” of obedience which of course turns into a curse. Her journey to free herself of it feels very contemporary to a viewer today.
Ella Enchanted is streaming on HBO Max.
Disney recently began a tradition of producing live-action versions of their popular and extensive catalog of animated films, and this one stars Lily James, Richard Madden, and Cate Blanchett. Disney spares no expense in terms of production design, and you can see all the money up there on the screen with so much for the eye to feast on. Though obviously not a shot-for-shot remake of the animated movie, the usual plot points and emotional beats roll out with comforting precision. The strength of Kenneth Branagh’s direction really makes this one stand out as it’s own entity among all the other adaptations on this list.
The newest production of this tale is also the most ridiculous-but-still-fun one of the bunch, with a soundtrack of modern songs brought to life by singer Cabello and Broadway vet Idina Menzel. Pierce Brosnan and Minnie Driver also appear as the King and Queen, and they have a nice little rekindling romance storyline of their own. This is also probably the most feminist entry here, with Ella’s business aspirations and the Prince’s little sister wanting to be monarch taking up a noticable amount of screen time. It’s worth the time watching this one, and it’s tickling to see that this is the second film on this list that features Minnie Driver AND a cover of Queen’s “Somebody to Love.” (Ella Enchanted is the other one!)
Cinderella (2021) is streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
Cinderella is such an archetypal story that viewers are spoilt for choice when they want to watch one. So pick whichever strikes a chord with you and enjoy!