Tuesday, September 29, 2015

25 reasons why Ever After beats the new Cinderella movie

I watched Ever After and Live-Action Cinderella back to back. I wasn't planning on doing it that way; it just kind of happened. But the difference between Danielle and Ella, as well as their two respective movies, was so stunning that I just had to write a list about it.

So, here are all the things I think Ever After did them better:

Danielle has a name.
Ella ends the film with "I am Cinderella."
(You are not Iron Man, sweetheart.)

Danielle reads books.
Ella talks to mice.

Ever After is situated in a consistently Renaissance-esque setting.
Cinderella is situated in some fake Barbie-like 17th-19th century.

This looks
Danielle recognizes the prince when she sees him, and has the appropriate frantic commoner reaction (falls to her knees and apologizes for throwing apples at him)
Ella doesn't recognize the prince, and when she finds out that her mysterious "apprentice" friend (with the entourage and the fancy clothes, duh) is a prince... has absolutely no reaction.

Danielle risks her freedom and spends her money to rescue a servant and reunite him with his family.
We are repeatedly told by various characters Ella is brave and kind.

Danielle protects and spends time with the servants.
Ella waves sadly after them as they leave.

In Ever After, the stepsisters have their own personalities and stories. Even the "evil" one is fairly complex.
In Cinderella, the stepsisters are identical, and a comic relief.

Danielle has friends who actively help her in her journey because they like her.
Ella has a one-trick fairy godmother, and a girl she giggles with over the ball invitation (this girl never appears again).

Danielle and the prince talk about their opinions on the world, go to the library (!!!) together, and get into an adventure.
Ella and the prince talk about deer for two minutes, and then swing in the garden for another two.

Danielle stands up to her stepmother and sisters when they abuse her. She even punches one of them.
Ella mopes around and feels sorry for herself.

Danielle gets out her mother's old dress and works hard to fake being nobility.
Ella gets magic help upgrading her mother's old dress, and blends in with nobility with no effort whatsoever.

Danielle has embroidered slippers.
Ella has six-inch glass pumps.

Danielle gets her ball costume made by Leonardo Da Vinci.
Ella gets her costume made by Fairy Godmother CGI. Including digitally thinned waistline.

Danielle has to choose between the slipper and a book, and she picks the book.
Ella never has any other choice but the slipper.

Ever After deals with the fact that Danielle is a commoner and she lies about it, losing the prince's trust.
Cinderella does not care about any of that.

In Ever After the prince is called Henry.
In Cinderella, the prince is called Prince. Also goes by Kit.

Danielle has plans for what she will do as a queen, which mostly involve social and educational reform. She ends up building a free university.
Ella kind of stares into space and sings.

Ever After deals with the consequences of the prince turning down his intended bride.
Cinderella glides over the reason why the prince had to get married in the first place (because his tiny country is surrounded by enemies) - so it is kind of implied that the day after marrying a commoner, his kingdom was probably burned to the ground.
(What would you expect from Robb Stark?)

Danielle saves herself with her sword skills (or an epic bluff check).
Ella gets saved by a hesitant fat mouse.

In Ever After Danielle asks her stepmother if she ever loved her, and gets a firm no, "how could I."
In Cinderella, the stepmother breaks down and accuses Ella of being "too good and pure."

Ever After gives character and backstory to the stepmother, and shows her vulnerable when she loses her support with her husband.
Cinderella has the stepmother say "I'll tell you my story..." and then has her tell us everything we already know.

The long-dead mother is present in Danielle's life through her legacy, and so is her father through her book.
Ella's connection is focused on her father, and it is done once he is dead.

Ever After uses motifs from other folktales (e.g. the Clever Girl carrying the prince on her shoulder)
Cinderella uses motifs that are never used or explained again (Ella doing "magic" as a baby, the twig her father sends home, etc.)

Danielle shows emotions like anger, desperation, frustration, embarrassment, excitement, and joy.
Ella shows sadness and joy.

Ever After is a creative film adaptation of the motifs of a folktale.
Cinderella follows a cartoon based on a folktale word for word.

Anjelica Houston is a goddess and a perfect stepmother.
Cate Blachett is a goddess and a perfect stepmother.

All in all, I found Live-Action Cinderella cheesy, kitschy, and all-around boring and predictable.

To the crowds screaming "BUT IT'S A FAIRY TALE!!!": I know. I am a storyteller, believe me, I know. But what is great and well in a fairy tale told does not necessarily translate onto the big screen without looking like a lazy cliché. It still matters how it is told. 

To the crowds screaming "BUT IT'S A LIVE ACTION ADAPTATION OF THE DISNEY CARTOON!!!": I know. I don't like the Disney cartoon either.

I am sure an opposite list could also be assembled. Go ahead and have fun with it. :)


  1. Very interesting comparisons. I'll have to watch both the movies.

  2. Wow! I still haven't seen the new live action Cinderella, and after reading this, why would you when you can just rewatch Ever After? Part of the reason I didn't want to spend money and see it in a theater was because I kind of knew exactly what the movie was going to be like anyway-beautiful visuals, but a rehashed version of the cartoon. I do have fond memories of the Disney cartoon, and I'm sure I would enjoy it on some level if I wasn't comparing it to Ever After. It seems like the whole purpose of the remake was to keep the Disney classic relevant. And I guess they succeeded, because people loved it and gushed over it, and it was in fact more in depth than the cartoon, but it is kind of sad that they couldn't have done more with it...

    1. Actually it barely had any dept in it; they just went through the motions. And they wanted to have the mice, but not talking mice, so they ended up with weirdly intelligent, yet realistic-looking creepy mice.

    2. If we're to rank the Cinderella movies from an objective standpoint, it would probably be Ever After first, followed by Cinderella (2015) and then Cinderella (1950). Mind you, this is just the ones that come immediately to mind. Now I personally prefer the 2015 Cinderella a little bit over Ever After. Mainly because of the unfortunate truth that Ever After isn't really a fairy tale. It's historical fiction. They grounded it and took out all the magic to replace it with Leonardo Davinci. As much as I respect the quintessential Renaissance man, he does not make for a fairy tale. As for the animated version, the 2015 version improves on it by leaps and bounds. They spend actual time on both Ella and the prince (the prince had all of two lines in the animated version, one of which was a yawn). Most of Disney's first pass at Cinderella spent 90% of the movie on the mice and cat. But what do I know, I've never been a big Cinderella fan (unless you count Cinder by Marissa Meyer, which is a whole other thing). Maybe the perfect Cinderella film is hidden in the annals of film history. Personally, I'm waiting for someone to make a decent "Jack and the Beanstalk" film, but I'm not holding my breath.

    3. Disney's next animated feature is actually Jack and the Beanstalk, or so I hear. If it's the same team as Frozen and Tangled, there is hope :) And yes, Cinder is by far my favorite Cinderella adaptation. I am not a huge fan of the original fairy tale. What I liked in Ever After was that they played with the plot and the morifs of the fairy tale, but didn't try to make it an actual magic tale. I enjoy it when people apply folktale tropes to a realistic setting :) But that's just my taste.

    4. People have different genre tastes. Ever After as a sort of feminist historical fiction piece based around Cinderella was okay, but not generally my cup of tea. I tend to gravitate toward fantasy, science fiction and action (with maybe some horror, but horror/fairy tale combos are getting played out in other media). As for Disney's Gigantic, it could go either way. While I liked Tangled, I didn't care for Frozen. I'm not sure about their decision to set the quintessential English fairy tale in Spain (they could have at least set it in the Southern US, which has its own version). Also, not sure about Jack making friends with a giant girl. Ideally, a good version would keep some of Jack's roguish elements while keeping him sympathetic and definitely wouldn't tack on a love interest.

  3. I have to agree that Ever is better than live action Cindy. But the cartoon holds a place in my heart.

    Isn't the tree limb supposed to be what grows into a tree on her mother's grave? The went from Grimm to Perrault. Always did like the Grimm version better.

    One of my faverite versions is Slipper and the Rose with Richard Chamberlin as the prince.

  4. Wow, that is a long list. I saw Ever After a while ago and recall liking it. I hadn't even heard of the new Cinderella movie. Honestly, it makes me a little sad. It seems like all movies these days are just remakes of older films, and it sounds like that's what this is. Can we have some new story lines in movies, please? :P

    1. AMEN to that :) I hate Disney's new "let's just make live-action remakes of everything!" craze.

  5. 17.
    Danielle has plans for what she will do as a queen, which mostly involve social and educational reform. She ends up building a free university.
    Ella kind of stares into space and sings.


  6. Sorry, I found your coverage of the topic to be wy too one-note

    One thing you completely ignored is the different target audiences. Cinderella is targeted at young children and people nostalgic towards the Disney movie. Ever After is targeted towards adolescents and young adults. I'm not saying that children's entertainment needs to be dumbed down, but what child has read Utopia?

    I also do not get your criticism towards the setting of the Cinderella movie. While setting the movie in a realistic world without magic is an interesting artistic choice, once again making the story more attractive to the older target audience, that does not make other ways of telling the same story invalid. I see why you prefer Ever After in that regard, but this is an objective opinion, not a fact.

    I also gotta disappoint you if you think that Ever After actually has a "consistent" Renessaince era setting. In reality, there are historical errors, not as many as in some other "historical" movies, ones that could have been easily avoided: http://www.teachwithmovies.org/guides/ever-after.html#historical-errors

    Why is it a flaw that Ella doesn't recognize the prince? Photography doesn't exist in the world where Cinderella is set in. It is absolutely realistic for her to have no idea what the prince looks like and it introduces a nice twist in that it turns the whole "not marrying for status" schtick into a two-way street. I agree that her reaction to the reveal was lackluster, though.

    I'm not saying that Cinderella was perfect. It had some big flaws, mainly that it didn't know what movie it wanted to be (the mice are a pretty good example of this), it's pretty bad actually. On the other hand, I don't get the praise that Ever After gets either. While the concept of retelling fairytales without magic is very interesting, the execution is lackluster. Between brilliant scenes there are long drags of boringess; the prince is pretty forgettable (atleast imho); Danielle is a typical 90s heroine, meaning that the writers are so afraid of being sexist they hardly let her show any flaws and making her so smart, educated and strong that it is nearly impossible to have people emphasize with her, on top of that they give her sword skills that are completely unrealistic for a young woman from that era (Ella is an even worse Mary Sue, but that doesn't make Danielle's character better).

    That brings me to another point that actually makes me pretty mad, not towards you, but towars our society. You compliment Ella for standing up to her abusive family. And it is great that she does this. But How realistic is this? Who still has the spine to stad up to their tormentors after being abused again and again. Some people probably do. But the vast majority does *not*. Because abuse is *harmful*. It gets to your psyche. I've been lucky enough to have a pretty supportive family. I've also been bullied for two school years. And it absolutely ruined my self-esteem and definitely destroyed any desire to fight back. I cried almost every day. Getting back to how I was before the bullying took me two years. I cannot even *begin* to imagined how it must feel to constantly be belittled, put down and forced to do work, not by your classmates, but your *family*, not for a few hours a day, but constantly. Every day. Eve on weekends. And that for *years*. I cannot imagine that. How do you think an abuse victim would feel if you called their passivity towards their abuser as being "mopey"?. Now Ella is not real. I realize that. But that reaction shows how our society feels about people, real people, who have been put down too many times to pull themselves up by their boot straps. And this can make abuse victims feel ashamed and hesitant to seek help.