Cinderella Has a Long History
|Though little-known, the Egyptian Cinderella did exist|
The fairy tale grew over the centuries, appearing as far away as China and the Philippines, but it gained the most popularity in Europe. It was adapted by medieval writers such as Geoffrey of Monmouth, who called her Cordelia and wrote that she was disinherited by her father the British king because she wouldn't flatter him. Instead, the king divided up the kingdom between her elder sisters, who then abused their father. Cordelia had the last laugh, though, when she married a neighboring king, helped him raise an army, and then came back and deposed her wicked sisters.
The story kept getting retold and elaborated upon over the years before books and newspapers were common until there were different details in practically every town in Europe. Giambattista Basile wrote "Pentamerone," in which Cinderella is called Zezolla. She helps her governess become engaged to the prince, but then lets her six daughters treat Zezolla as a kitchen maid. The prince gives a ball which derived from the influence of a fairy, and Zezolla showed up dressed like a lady due to the help of her own fairy. He falls in love with her, but she runs away, leaving behind a slipper. The king rounds up all the maidens in the land, and when they are all in the palace, the slipper jumps out of his hand and onto the foot of Zezolla.
|Rhodopis trying on her slipper|
The best know version of the story, and the one which became "official" because it was published, was the one by the Brothers Grimm.
The Brothers Grimm: Aschenputtel, or the Tale of Cinder-FoolA wealthy man's wife, a kindly soul, dies and leaves an only daughter, tasking her to be good and pure. The man later marries again, a woman who has two beautiful daughters who are pretty on the outside and evil within. The woman's daughters abused the man's daughter, stealing her fine things and turning her into a kitchen maid who they derisively called "Aschenputtel" ("Cinder-fool"). The girl continued to honor her mother, though, by remaining kind-hearted, though she would go to her mother's grave and drown her sorrow in tears.
|Cinderella sewing while her sisters leave|
|Cinderella with her only friends, the white birds|
|Cinderella admiring her dress|
|Cinderella leaving a slipper behind|
During the wedding ceremony, the doves fly down from heaven and, in a delicious ending that doesn't make it into the Disney movies, peck out an eye of each of the step-sisters. When the wedding is over, the doves return one last time and peck out the two girls' remaining eyes for being so greedy and selfish.
|A typical local production of Cinderella in Chicago|
Theatrical VersionsHaving worked on this story for at least two millenia, storytellers weren't going to stop with the Brothers Grimm version just because it got published. London's Drury Lane Theater got in on the act in 1904, and other theaters followed. The first filmed theatrical version was in 1926, also in London. In this stage version, Cinderella meets Prince Charming and a friend in the forest during a hunt and mistakes the prince for the friend and vice versa. Cinderella's father, Baron Hardup, has two step-daughters who rule him, and he is somewhat light on cash. Cinderella's Fairy Godmother appears and creates a coach from a pumpkin and a driver and footmen from mice and frogs, along with a dress from rags, so that Cinderella can go to the ball. The spell ends at midnight, so she has to be out of the palace by then or be exposed.
|Cinderella's coach, from a North Carolina production|
There were a dozen film versions before Walt Disney's classic 1950 animated version "Cinderella," and a couple of those previous versions were shorts by Disney as well. Since then, the versions have continued, including 2004's "Ella Enchanted" with Anne Hathaway, but the defining version since 1950 was and remains Walt Disney's "Cinderella." Disney also came out with two sequels that further extended the story.
Walt Disney's Cinderella (1950): or, the Tale of a Wrongfully Abused Girl Who Triumphs
Everybody knows the basics of Cinderella the story, and there are no surprises in this film. In essence, this film "Cinderella" has become the story, so it can't deviate from the story - it is the story. Fairy tale Cinderella is a lovely girl whose wicked stepmother unfairly and cruelly favors her own very ordinary daughters over her. While they play, Cinderella slaves away in the house, cooking and cleaning without complaining. When an invitation to the King's (Luis Van Rooten) Ball arrives, at which the eligible young prince (un-named, but Prince Charming in the fairy tale and voiced by Mike Douglas, who later became the famous talk show host) will be present. Cinderalla works and works to earn an invitation, but her wicked step-mother reneges on a promise to allow her to go with the other girls. Not only that, she destroys the dress Cinderalla would have worn.
|Dancing the night away....|
|The prince is enchanted with Cinderella|
|Cinderella makes a break for it!|
Cinderella is not overly romantic, so we don't feel excessively sorry for her as a victim, but instead as a fighter determined to work through her troubles and achieve her destiny. Ilene Woods, who voiced her, quickly had three children and didn't try to cash in on her fleeting fame, leaving this as a unique voice of the fairy tale Cinderella.
|Hurrying down the step, watch out for that slipper!|
Cinderella II: Dreams Come True (2002)As is well known, the fairy tale Cinderella (Jennifer Hale) lived "happily ever after," but that doesn't mean her subsequent life was uneventful. Cinderella's Fairy Godmother (Russi Taylor) loves to tell the tale of Cinderella's discovery, and when the Fairy Godmother is reading it aloud one day, Cinderella's mice friends Gus (Corey Burton) and Jaq (Rob Paulsen) arrive to late. The mice resolve to tell what happened to Cinderella after she married the handsome prince, and three stories in particular come to mind.
|Cinderella and the Prince leaving the palace after the wedding|
|Cinderella wearing a dress she hates|
|The Fairy Godmother loves reading about Cinderella|
|A nice shot of the royal couple|
|A magical castle|
Cinderella III: A Twist in Time (2007)It is ten years since Prince Charming (Christopher Daniel Barnes) married Cinderella (Jennifer Hale), and the happy couple celebrates with a picnic in the woods hosted by Cinderella's Fairy Godmother (Russi Taylor) and attended by Cinderella's mice friends Jaq (Tress MacNeille) and Gus (Corey Burton). Anastasia (Lesli Margherita), Cinderella's evil step-sister, stumbles upon the Fairy Godmother's wand, and after a struggle, Lady Tremaine (Susanne Blakeslee) has the wand and the Fairy Godmother has been turned to stone.
|Anastasia is a fully fleshed out character in "Cinderella III"|
|Disney animators are never subtle when it comes to things like this....|
|Prince Charming dancing with Anastasia|
|I love how they make the evil step-mother look like the bride of Frankenstein|
|Lucifer has a great grin|
|Cinderella's eyes, no computer could draw those like that|
|Don't these two just look like they belong together?|
Below is a the mouse sing-along (think "Chipmunks") from "Cinderella."