Charmingly sweet and riotously funny, Ever After occupies a special place in my heart. Perhaps because it is a realistic reimagining of the familiar Cinderella story; a story of another ordinary girl who becomes a real princess. Although it does not gloss over the tragic points of the story, it still paints a beautiful picture of life and love.
The classic pieces are all there: cruel, designing stepmother; 2 stepsisters; a charming prince; and a girl who dares to dream beyond the dreadful dreariness of her present life. There are also a few changes to the “pumpkins and fairy godmother” version of this story. The prince is named Henry, not Charming, and he both meets and falls in love with our “Cinderella,” Danielle de Barbarac, before the famed ball where she loses a glass slipper. Leonardo da Vinci replaces the traditional fairy godmother, substituting a paintbrush for a wand, adding a sense of humor, and playing matchmaker as only an old man could. There is also the addition of a villain in the form of a creepy guy who has eyes for the lovely Danielle and will stop at nothing to have her.
I don’t know which Ever After scene is my favorite. Perhaps Henry and Danielle being attacked by the gypsies. Or when Danielle punches Marguerite in the face. Or da Vinci walking on water – “It looks like rain!” Or Jacqueline and Laurent at the ball. Or the part at the end in the royal laundry. Or Henry’s altercations with his father. Or the wedding with the Spanish princess. Or Henry and Danielle in the gypsy camp. Every moment of this movie is fun to watch.
Our spirited heroine wins the prince’s heart by showing him how arrogant and self-centered his life has been and what it means to truly live – but will his ardor cool when he discovers she is only a commoner? Will Baroness Rodmilla’s scheming win her daughter a princess’s crown? This interpretation offers both a twist and an eminently satisfying ending. Ever After is far and away my favorite fairy tale movie.