I recently watched the movie Ever After (1998), staring Drew Barrymore, Anjelica Huston, Dougray Scott, and Jeanne Moreau. The movie is described as a post-feminist interpretation of the Cinderella story, though I am not at all sure exactly what that means. My daughter is much more of an expert about what various genres and writing conventions exist in the world, but she doesn’t know either. I just try to enjoy a movie without having to categorize it.
This story doesn’t have the magic that we normally associate with the classic Disneyesque-versions of Cinderella. It is thus a lot more believable as a romance story.
There were a lot of things to make this a believable and charming story. First, unlike many historical movies, the production staff got this one right. The costumes were fairly consistent with the time period. I hate it when a movie gets historical details all mixed up. Surely there are a lot of people who majored in history in college that could be called upon to help the authenticity of a movie. It seems as though this crew actually included some of those people.
Second, I really liked the fact that one sister was bad and one was good. I like to see people who are willing to buck authority, especially when that authority is being used to harm someone else. I base this preference on my own personal experience. I turned out to be a toady to my parents, but my brothers and sisters all became free and independent thinkers. (Some of you may realize that this is entirely inconsistent with my usually vaulted opinion of myself, but I’m feeling good after the holidays, so I will be generous to my relatives.)
Third, I liked the themes the movie pushed. A love of books. Respect for the memory of your elders. Loyalty to friends and people who depend on you. Virtue being rewarded. Finally, I appreciate the achievement of true love.
And I also appreciate that the heroine, Danielle, did find a place for her step-mother and step-sister to live in the castle.
If you want to watch a great Cinderella story that will further your urges to write fantastic romance stories, watch Ever After and get inspired.
Finally, if you do want to add a little magic, my daughter says to go right ahead and do it. The story can only get better.