This article is about the 1998 film. For other uses, see Ever After (disambiguation).
Ever After: A Cinderella Story is a 1998 film inspired by the fairy tale Cinderella, directed by Andy Tennant and starring Drew Barrymore, Anjelica Huston and Dougray Scott. The screenplay is written by Tennant, Susannah Grant, and Rick Parks. The original music score is composed by George Fenton. The film's closing theme song "Put Your Arms Around Me" is performed by the rock band Texas.
The usual pantomime and comic/supernatural elements are removed and the story is instead treated as historical fiction, set in Renaissance-era France. It is often seen as a modern, post-feminism interpretation of the Cinderella myth.
Grande Dame Marie Thérèse Charlotte de France summons the Brothers Grimm to tell them the true story of Cinderella, her great-great grandmother...
In sixteenth century France, eight-year-old Danielle de Barbarac's father, Auguste, marries Rodmilla de Ghent, a wealthy baroness with two young daughters, but dies shortly afterwards. Baroness de Ghent is so jealous of Auguste's affection for Danielle, that she strips her stepdaughter's title of nobility and treats her miserably; one of her stepsisters, Marguerite, abuses her, and the other stepsister, Jacqueline, keeps quiet. By the time Danielle is eighteen, she has been reduced to a servant in her own house, raising bees and crops on the manor, and clinging to her father's last gift, a copy of Thomas More's Utopia.
While collecting apples, Danielle sees a man stealing her father's horse, and unseats him with a well-aimed apple. When she recognizes he is Prince Henry, she abases herself, and he throws her a purse of gold for the horse, and her silence. She decides to use the money to rescue their servant, Maurice, whom the Baroness has sold to the crown to pay her debts. Henry's escape from the duties of court is foiled when he encounters a band of gypsies robbing an old man, and when he learns who the old man is Leonardo da Vinci, who has been summoned to court, he decides to return with him. Meanwhile, Danielle has dressed as an aristocrat and gone to buy back Maurice, but the guards refuse her, saying he is being deported to the New World colonies. She argues passionately for his release, quoting Utopia and when Henry overhears he orders Maurice's release. Amazed that a pretty young woman can quote Thomas More, he begs for her name. Danielle lies and gives him her mother's name, "Comtesse Nicole de Lancret," just as his parents call him in to court.
King Francis and Queen Marie of France tell Henry that he must choose a bride before the upcoming masquerade ball, or he will have to wed a Spanish princess. All the noble families receive invitations, and at first Danielle believes she is included. When she goes out hunting truffles, she meets Henry again by the river, in the company of da Vinci. They engage in a lively debate before Danielle runs off, hearing Jacqueline calling for her. Henry begins searching for her, and when he finds her at the manor, invites her to visit the library of a nearby monastery. On the way home, they are accosted by the gypsies, who are amused by Danielle's outrage and agree to release her with whatever she can carry - and when she picks up Henry, they laughingly offer them a horse. They spend the night in the gypsies' camp, before going home and arranging to meet again.
That day Danielle catches the Baroness and Marguerite stealing her mother's dress and slippers for Marguerite to wear to the ball. As they argue, Danielle punches Marguerite in the face, threatens her, and chases her around the house. Marguerite threatens to throw Utopia in the fireplace, so Danielle relents. But Marguerite burns the book anyway and Danielle is beaten with a whip as punishment, leaving her with cuts and wounds on her back, which Jacqueline tends to. When she meets Henry the next day, she is resolved to tell him the truth but is afraid he will reject her after he confesses his love, and she runs away again. On the day of the ball, the Baroness learns Henry was pursuing Danielle, and locks her in the larder of the manor. Her childhood friend persuades da Vinci to help free her, and he makes her a pair of wings to wear to the ball with her mother's dress and slippers, which Danielle had been hiding. As Danielle arrives, the Baroness denounces her as a "commoner" and Henry, shocked and enraged over her identity, refuses to hear her explanation, so she runs away crying. As Danielle is fleeing the ball, she trips and falls, losing one of her slippers. Da Vinci finds it, and reprimands Henry for his attitude but Henry is unmoved so he leaves him with the slipper.
After realizing Danielle is his match, Henry calls off his wedding to the Spanish princess mid-ceremony, and when he goes to the manor he discovers the Baroness sold Danielle to a vile landowner, Pierre le Pieu. When he reaches the estate to rescue her, she has already freed herself. He begs her forgiveness and asks her to marry him, while returning her lost slipper, and they embrace. The Baroness and her daughters summoned to the court, assuming that Henry plans to propose to Marguerite. Instead, they are stripped of their titles for lying to the Queen and threatened with deportation to the New World unless someone will speak for them. Danielle steps forward as Henry introduces her as his wife, and asks the King and Queen to show them the same courtesy they have shown her. The Baroness and Marguerite are hence sent to work as laundry maids with the other servants, while Jacqueline, who had always been kind to Danielle, is spared the punishment and lives in the palace as Danielle's maid.
Drew Barrymore as Danielle de Barbarac / "Comtesse Nicole de Lancret",
Anjelica Huston as Baroness Rodmilla de Ghent,
Dougray Scott as Prince Henry of France,
Megan Dodds as Marguerite de Ghent,
Melanie Lynskey as Jacqueline de Ghent,
Patrick Godfrey as Leonardo da Vinci,
Timothy West as Francis I of France,
Judy Parfitt as Queen Marie of France,
Richard O'Brien as Pierre le Pieu,
Jeroen Krabbé as Auguste de Barbarac,
Walter Sparrow as Maurice,
Matyelok Gibbs as Louise,
Kate Lansbury as Paulette,
Lee Ingleby as Gustave,
Jeanne Moreau as Grande Dame Marie Thérèse of France,
Joerg Stadler as Wilhelm Grimm,
Andy Henderson as Jacob Grimm,
Ever After was filmed in Super 35 mm film format, however both the widescreen and pan-and-scan versions are included on the DVD. This is the only Super 35 mm film directed by Andy Tennant: his previous films were filmed with spherical lenses, while his subsequent films used anamorphic lenses.
The castle shown in the film is the Château de Hautefort located in the Dordogne region of France. Other featured châteaux are de Fénelon, de Losse, de Lanquais, de Beynac as well as the city of Sarlat-la-Canéda.
The painting of Danielle seen in the film is based on Leonardo Da Vinci's Head of a Woman (La Scapigliata).
Ever After has received mostly positive reviews from critics. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes reports that 90% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 61 reviews, with an average score of 7.5/10. The critical consensus is: Ever After is a sweet, frothy twist on the ancient fable, led by a solid turn from star Drew Barrymore. Another review aggregator, Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 top reviews from mainstream critics, calculated a favorable score of 66 based on 22 reviews.
Lisa Schwarzbaum from Entertainment Weekly gave the film a B-, saying: "Against many odds, Ever After comes up with a good one. This novel variation is still set in the once-upon-a-time 16th century, but it features an active, 1990s-style heroine -- she argues about economic theory and civil rights with her royal suitor -- rather than a passive, exploited hearth sweeper who warbles 'A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes'." She also praised Anjelica Huston's performance as a cruel stepmother: "Huston does a lot of eye narrowing and eyebrow raising while toddling around in an extraordinary selection of extreme headgear, accompanied by her two less-than-self-actualized daughters -- the snooty, social-climbing, nasty Marguérite, and the dim, lumpy, secretly nice Jacqueline. "Nothing is final until you're dead", Mama instructs her girls at the dinner table, "and even then I'm sure God negotiates".
Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert, while praising the film with 3 out of 4 stars, wrote that "The movie ... is one of surprises, not least that the old tale still has life and passion in it. I went to the screening expecting some sort of soppy children's picture and found myself in a costume romance with some of the same energy and zest as The Mask of Zorro. And I was reminded again that Drew Barrymore can hold the screen and involve us in her characters. ... Here, as the little cinder girl, she is able to at last put aside her bedraggled losers and flower as a fresh young beauty, and she brings poignancy and fire to the role."
DVD and Blu-Ray release:
The film was released on DVD March 3, 1999. On January 4, 2011, the film was released on Blu-Ray.
A musical version of the film is currently in the works, with the book and lyrics by Marcy Heisler and music by Zina Goldrich. The musical was originally scheduled to have its world premiere in April 2009 at the Curran Theatre in San Francisco, but the pre-Broadway run was postponed. In May 2012, it was announced that the project is back on track with Kathleen Marshall signing on to direct a Broadway run. The musical will also feature music by Zina Goldrich and book and lyrics by Marcy Heisler. A workshop of the musical will be held from April 25 - May 15, 2013 with Sierra Boggess as Danielle, Jeremy Jordan as Prince Henry, and Ashley Spencer as Marguerite. The musical will make its world premiere at the Paper Mill Playhouse from May 21-June 21, 2015.