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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

Ever After (1998) (2018 Reissue)


Starring: Drew Barrymore, Anjelica Huston, Dougray Scott and Jeanne Moreau
Distributor: Fabulous Films Ltd / Fremantle Media Enterprises
RRP: £14.99
Certificate: PG
Release Date: 06 August 2018

The story of Cinderella is a folk tale which has held a particularly fond place in the hearts of cinema audiences with thousands of variations on the story appearing all over the world. Most famous is probably Disney’s 1950 animated film, but there have been nearly forty films based on the Grimm's original version of the tale.

Ever After: A Cinderella Story (1998. 2 hrs, 1 min, 13 sec) is a romantic comedy version of the story, directed by Andy Tennant.

The film opens with the brothers Grimm being asked to attend an old lady who has a portrait of a beautiful young lady in her bedroom. She informs them that although their story of the little cinder’s girl was good, it was not a folktale but the bastardisation of a real tale.

Flashback and we are in 16th Century France where Auguste de Barbarac, who is devoted to his eight-year-old daughter, Danielle, feels he must for her sake remarry. He returns home with his new wife, Rodmilla de Ghent and her two daughters, Marguerite and Jacqueline. Tragedy quickly strikes the new family when Auguste dies, falling off his horse. In the new household Danielle is reduced to little more than a servant to the baroness and her daughter. We zip forward to the point where Danielle is now eighteen and still being treated like a servant.

At the same time, Prince Henry is having problems with his father, who wants to arrange a loveless political marriage for his son. Henry bolts from the castle and goes on the run. When he tries to steal a horse, he meets Danielle for the first time as she tries to stop him. When the baroness sells off one of the other servants, Danielle dresses up as a courtier and using the money the prince gave her for the horse goes to the palace to buy him back.

While this is a faux version of the 16th century, with improbable coincidences, like Leonardo Da Vinci (Patrick Godfrey) taking on the role of the fairy godmother. the film does well in introducing complex motivations for the characters. Prince Henry (Dougray Scott) is not the shallow character of the original story, but a young man constrained and imprisoned by an accident of birth, not unlike Danielle herself. When he meets and is intrigued by Danielle he is not looking for love, but escape. Her free spirit and utopian views of society pique his interest and he starts to fall in love with her.

Danielle (Drew Barrymore) is likewise constricted by the treatment from The Baroness (Anjelica Huston) who treats her badly. But even the baroness is a complex person, a victim of her own class and sex. When Danielle asks if the Baroness ever loved her father she replies that she hardly knew him, indicating that she too had suffered from an arranged marriage.

Barrymore is good in the role, she is suitably attractive, but more than that, she obviously puts her heart into the role. The only thing which was odd was that, given that this is France, most of the actors just used their own voices, but Barrymore affects a strange, faux English? accent which is distracting until you get used to it. Thankfully its not Dick Van Dyke extreme.

The story plays out traditionally, so we have the ball, the glass slipper and the final happy ending for the young couple.

The Blu-ray comes with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, but to be honest apart for a few scenes, this is not the sort of film which will trouble a cinema setup. The image is clear with minimal grain. The disc has optional English subtitles with the original trailer (1 min, 46 sec).

The film turned out to be more enjoyable than I thought it would be, with a nice balance between the comedic moments and the scenes of drama/romance. The performances are strong and believable. If you're looking for a bit of romance and high adventure, then this version of Cinders might just fit that need.


Charles Packer

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