The Amazon Prime Cinderella film didn’t go over well with critics, however partially that is perhaps as a result of it has a lot competitors in its area. There’s an enormous pantheon of Cinderella films — and Cinderella performs and musicals and radio exhibits and ballets, and principally each type of adaptation below the solar. Variations of the story return to historical China and Greece, however the fairy story model most American audiences will know is the Charles Perrault model, penned within the 1600s. It’s a timeless fairy story that’s been retold again and again, however writer-director Kay Cannon intentionally took large, fashionable dangers together with her new tackle the story. A jukebox musical? No villain? Girlboss Cinderella?
“How can I simply make it totally different?” Cannon tells Polygon about how she deliberate her model. “As a result of they’ve already accomplished it, and so they’ve already accomplished an amazing job, and I can’t simply redo the greatness.”
Trendy audiences might search for some edgy new spin on the classics, however with all of the stress to make a totally different Cinderella story, it’s price contemplating which of them stick closest to custom. Can a Cinderella story nonetheless be a standout inventive work if the one requirement is following the fairy-tale play-by-play? There are such a lot of iterations of Cinderella on the market, however the conventional American and British movie diversifications can roughly be divided into 5 classes: animated, fashionable replace, parody, live-action based mostly on the story, and live-action based mostly on the Rodgers and Hammerstein stage musical. To curate our record a little bit, I’ve chosen the top-ranked Letterboxd film for every of these classes.
To determine how every film iteration of Cinderella most precisely suits the fairy story, we have to really choose the parameters of the fairy story. Perrault’s model launched the commonest Cinderella plot components: the fairy godmother, the pumpkin she turns right into a carriage, and the glass slipper. We’re evaluating every Cinderella principally by the parameters of the Perrault story, with an exception for the different in style retelling from the Brothers Grimm. For a refresher:
The heroine: What defines a Cinderella story? The best way the downtrodden heroine rises above her station. Her character will range, however the rags-to-riches journey is paramount.
Doable factors right here: 2 — 1 for beginning on the backside, 1 for popping out on prime.
The prince: Historically, he’s a bland victory situation who doesn’t actually do something in addition to see Cinderella on the ball and fall in love together with her.
Doable factors right here: 1 for present.
The magical assist: Not all film Cinderellas function magic, notably the modern-day ones. However some type of wish-granting determine looks as if a key a part of the story.
Doable factors right here: 1 for some sort of exterior assist to get Cinderella to the ball!
The villains: The stepmother and stepsisters seem in most variations of the story. Whereas the Perrault model forgives them, the Grimm model sees them meet a merciless destiny. We’re taking each under consideration each right here, for the reason that thought of horrible abusers getting off completely scot-free hasn’t aged properly for the reason that 1600s, and it hardly ever pops up in newer diversifications.
Doable factors right here: 3 — 1 for the stepfamily present, 1 for them making Cinderella do their chores, and 1 for his or her fates being made clear.
The ball and all: There’s a ball the place the Prince is on the lookout for a bride. Cinderella will get a swanky ballgown and a cool methodology of transportation. And he or she should get residence by midnight, or else.
Doable factors right here: 4 — Fairly simple, 1 for the ball, 1 for the robe, 1 for the carriage, and 1 for the curfew!
The figuring out merchandise: It might be Perrault’s glass slipper or the Brothers Grimm’s gold one, however both method, it’s an vital shoe, or variant thereof.
Doable factors right here: 3 — 1 for an merchandise being left, 1 for it being efficiently used to establish Cinderella, and 1 for the stepsisters attempting to say it’s theirs as an alternative. Loads of factors right here, as a result of the figuring out merchandise is paramount to the Cinderella story.
The revelation: Cinderella is discovered, and he or she and the Prince get married and dwell fortunately ever after! The fairy-tale model makes it fairly abrupt, however quite a lot of diversifications string it out.
Doable factors right here: 1 for being speedily resolved — maybe it’s extra attention-grabbing to introduce some third-act rigidity, however a pure Cinderella story will give our gal a fortunately ever after straight away.
General Cinderating: 15 attainable factors for an ideal Cinderella. How will our films do?
5. The Parody Adaptation: Ever After (1998)
Ever After is probably the least conventional of all Cinderella films. On this model, an previous French aristocrat recounts the story of a peasant lady to the Brothers Grimm themselves, setting the story of Cinderella straight. Ever After suits Cinderella right into a historic context, through the Renaissance Period, so it lacks the magical components of another retellings. But it surely makes up for it with extra character motivations for each the Cinderella determine and the prince.
The heroine: Danielle de Barbarac (Drew Barrymore) is a younger girl compelled to play servant in her family after her father’s loss of life. She is aware of she might run the manor higher than her stepmother, who squanders their cash and makes use of servants as surrogates for her personal debt. Danielle comes into some cash (the prince tosses her a bag of cash whereas “borrowing” a horse from her property) and disguises herself as a noblewoman to free her servant from the debtors’ jail. When prince sees her stand as much as the jail guard, she introduces herself as “Nicole” (her mom’s identify), a visiting noblewoman. Although they conflict, their relationship ultimately blossoms into one thing romantic, though it’s constructed on a lie. By the tip, although, they’re married and Danielle has the cash she wants.
The prince: Prince Henry (Dougray Scott) doesn’t need to marry the Spanish princess his mother and father need him to wed, so he finally ends up working away. He meets a mysterious visiting noblewoman when returning to the citadel, and is so impressed by the best way she stands as much as some guards that he begins to query his lifetime of privilege. Ultimately, she evokes him to proactively make his individuals’s lives higher.
The magical assist: In probably the greatest and most sudden twists on the traditional story, Cinderella’s fairy godmother is… LEONARDO DA VINCI! Sure, that’s proper — artist and inventor Leonardo Da Vinci takes a liking to Danielle and hooks her up with some candy angel wings for her gown.
The villains: Maybe one of the outright merciless stepmothers, Rodmilla (Anjelica Huston) is conniving and domineering — she sells off Danielle’s father’s possessions, and schemes for her older daughter to appeal the prince so the household can dwell in luxurious. She outright tells Danielle that she by no means cherished her, throws a beloved e-book from Danielle’s father into the fireside, and actively sabotages Danielle on the ball. On the finish, the king threatens to banish her for mendacity to royalty, however Danielle figures a extra becoming punishment might be for Rodmilla and her oldest daughter to work within the citadel for the remainder of their lives. (The youthful stepsister will get a redemption arc as an alternative.)
Ball, ballgown, carriage, curfew: There’s a ball, and Danielle repurposes her mom’s previous robe, however the carriage doesn’t have something fancy to go together with it, and there’s no particular curfew. In reality, Danielle exhibits up on the ball and inside moments, her stepmother reveals that she isn’t the noblewoman she claims to be.
The figuring out merchandise: Whereas Danielle does depart a shoe, and the prince does put it on her on the finish after he decides to rattling propriety and chase after her, it’s by no means actually used to establish her, since by that time he is aware of her actual id.
The revelation: The prince will get pissed when he finds out that Danielle has been mendacity to him, and he has to do some inside development earlier than he goes after her — simply as she’s been promised in marriage to a lecherous neighbor. It’s purposefully messy, since in actual life, this glad ending wouldn’t pan out so easily.
General Cinderating: 10/15 — Hey, Ever After is the least conventional one! With the historic lens and the interrogation of among the extra fairy-tale-like components, Ever After was in all probability destined to rank lowest on the Cinderanking scale. Nonetheless, in case you’re within the temper for a Cinderella story the place Cinderella has motivations and company, with a love story past eyes assembly throughout the room, then Ever After actually checks all these containers. It is a motivated Cinderella who doesn’t really feel grating, whose desires match the time interval, and whose compassion is robust and never spineless.
4. The Trendy Adaptation: A Cinderella Story (2004)
Since A Cinderella Story premiered in 2004, there have been 5 sequels below the “Cinderella Story” identify, every beginning over with new characters, and every giving the fairy story a contemporary twist. Each iteration has grown extra extravagant — the prince is a pop star, or the solid is placing on a musical model of Cinderella, or there’s a Christmas theme, or one thing else.
However the unique fashionable Cinderella story is easy: The prince is a well-liked boy in school, and the heroine is a down-on-her-luck loser. They do not know that they’ve been secretly texting one another, after assembly anonymously on a message board for aspiring Princeton college students, and so they resolve to satisfy up on the faculty’s Halloween Homecoming dance. Will social conference hold them aside?
The heroine: Sam Montgomery (Hilary Duff) is a straight-A pupil who not solely runs round doing her stepmother’s ridiculous chores, but in addition picks up additional shifts at her household’s diner. Her dad’s will was by no means discovered, so all the cash and the diner went to her stepmother by default, and to save lots of up cash for Princeton, Sam has to do what she says. Sam’s character development comes from discovering the braveness to face as much as her stepmother and transfer out — and he or she ultimately finds her father’s will, which leaves her all the things! Rating! Her transformation has much less to do with the prince, and extra to do together with her personal shallowness (and a few key authorized documentation).
The prince: As a result of we’re in early 2000s California and never as soon as upon a time, our prince comes within the type of class president and soccer star Austin Ames (Chad Michael Murray), who secretly desires of going to Princeton and turning into a author.
The magical assist: There isn’t a magic on this model — however there’s the magic of discovered household and friendship! The employees of the diner comes collectively to assist Sam get to the Halloween Homecoming dance. Rhonda (Regina King), the diner’s supervisor, even provides Sam an previous marriage ceremony gown that she simply occurs to have mendacity round.
The villains: Not solely does A Cinderella Story have the evil stepmother (Fiona, performed magnificently by Jennifer Coolidge) and stepsisters, it additionally has an evil posse of imply cheerleaders led by Austin’s ex-girlfriend. They additionally meet their merciless destiny ultimately, and must go to work within the diner. Gasp!
Ball, ballgown, carriage, curfew: In lieu of a ball, we now have a Halloween Homecoming. Sam will get a ballgown within the type of an previous marriage ceremony gown. And he or she has to get again to the diner by midnight, as a result of that’s when Fiona will return. There isn’t a cool carriage, nevertheless, simply her pal’s dad’s Mercedes, which doesn’t actually endure any transformation.
The figuring out merchandise: In lieu of a glass slipper, Sam leaves her bedazzled cellular phone behind! Very early 2000s stylish. Sadly, it by no means actually will get used as an figuring out merchandise, and her sisters by no means declare it’s theirs.
The revelation: The attention-grabbing factor about this model of Cinderella is that your entire Cinderella plot occurs inside the first half of the film. The remaining half revolves round Sam waffling about whether or not she ought to inform Austin that she’s his thriller lady. When that does ultimately come to mild by way of Austin’s ex, the story pivots to Austin determining what he needs from life. Sam does get a reasonably nice second of character development when she tells Austin she will’t wait round for him, and in addition tells Fiona that she’s by means of with being handled like a servant. The ending is glad, however not the speedy decision of a Cinderella story.
General Cinderating: 11/15 — The primary of the trendy diversifications is certainly the most effective. Turning Sam’s final purpose to Princeton as an alternative of a prince is a cute modernization, and the truth that she and Austin meet on an web chat discussion board makes their secret relationship notably compelling. Sadly, probably the most irritating a part of this film is Austin, who should undergo the entire “This isn’t my dream, Dad, it’s yours” character arc. However Sam grows from somebody who can’t rise up for herself into somebody who takes management of her personal future.
3. The Stay-Motion Adaptation: The Slipper and the Rose (1976)
Technically, this live-action model of Cinderella is a musical, nevertheless it isn’t based mostly on the traditional musical that launched so many copycats, so it counts as an everyday adaptation. (Additionally, you’ll be hard-pressed to seek out an adaptation of Cinderella with none singing in any respect.) Whereas The Slipper and the Rose is a Cinderella retelling, it additionally places quite a lot of give attention to the political turmoil in Cinderella’s fictional nation, which places stress on its prince to discover a bride. Cinderella’s entire schtick is principally the identical — an orphan with a merciless stepmother — however this model additionally affords up a really lengthy track about guidelines and propriety within the nice nation of Euphemia. Enjoyable!
The heroine: Freshly orphaned as of the beginning of the film, Cinderella (Gemma Craven) is banished to the basement of her father’s home and compelled to do the stepmother’s menial chores. She meets Prince Edward on the ball and so they fall in love. He needs to marry her, however the king and his advisors warn her that it will put the dominion in danger, and promise her that they’ll present for her, however she can not marry him. She understands what this implies for the dominion, so she graciously agrees — and tells an advisor to inform Edward that she by no means cherished him, so he received’t tear down the dominion on the lookout for her.
After this, although, the king realizes that she acted precisely like a correct ruler ought to’ve on this state of affairs, and regrets sending her away. However that’s okay, as a result of the fairy godmother comes round to make all of it proper, and Cinderella and the prince get married in spite of everything.
The prince: Prince Edward (Richard Chamberlain) needs to get married for real love, however his mother and father desire a political alliance. What’s a poor wealthy boy to do?
The magical assist: A enjoyable twist with this fairy godmother (Annette Crosbie) is that she’s additionally serving to out a bunch of different folklore figures offscreen — she mentions Snow White, Robin Hood, and Scheherazade, amongst others.
The villains: A imply stepmother (Margaret Lockwood) who’s stated to have tricked Cinderella’s father into marriage now forces Cinderella to do all of the family chores, after firing the remainder of the employees. In the long run, Cinderella forgives them, earlier than being whisked away to her new life within the palace.
Ball, ballgown, carriage, curfew: There’s a ball to discover a bride. Cinderella will get a beautiful ballgown and a swanky carriage. And he or she should depart the ball earlier than midnight.
The figuring out merchandise: This one is bizarre. Cinderella does depart behind a shoe, however the prince kinda retains it in a bizarre monument, after which in a match of frustration, throws it out of his carriage. She finds it in a area and begins dancing with it, and the prince’s greatest pal spots and acknowledges her. Is it due to the shoe, or due to the dancing?
The revelation: After the prince and Cinderella discover one another, they nonetheless have a political state of affairs to untangle. The whole lot finally ends up advantageous ultimately, after all, however there’s a lengthy highway — and an entire lot of songs! — earlier than that occurs.
General Cinderating: 12.5/15 — The Slipper and the Rose could be a extremely conventional Cinderella, if not for the political subplot. There may be quite a lot of emphasis on propriety and custom, which makes the prince declaring his intention to marry a peasant lady all of the extra dramatic. If it weren’t two and a half hours of typically pointless songs, it could possibly be a candy, romantic story about defying class variations.
2. The Animated Adaptation: Cinderella (1950)
The Disney animated model is the archetypal Cinderella that almost all Individuals in all probability visualize once they consider Cinderella. This film really options comparatively little of Cinderella and her prince. It spends quite a lot of time on mouse hijinks, with a bizarre aspect give attention to the prince’s father and the dominion’s archduke.
The heroine: Cinderella is a kindhearted younger girl who assumes the most effective out of everybody, together with her terrible stepmother, and has a mushy spot for small animals. Other than her animal associates, she is lonely. Her father is lifeless. By the tip of the film, she’s fortunately married to the prince and he or she will get to go dwell in his fancy citadel.
The prince: Doesn’t actually have a identify! Or a lot of a personality, actually, which is constant. All we all know is that for some cause, he isn’t tremendous desperate to get married. Admittedly, Prince Charming will get extra character within the Cinderella direct-to-video sequels (that are wonderful and add some stunning nuance to all of the characters), however because it stands right here, he’s boring, and barely within the film.
The magical assist: Within the Disney animated model, the magical assist comes within the type of the Fairy Godmother, a kindly, homey girl voiced by Verna Felton. She’s a standard, traditional model of the character, principally an ersatz grandmother. This model additionally incorporates the “small animal associates” ingredient that the Brothers Grimm story launched.
The villains: This model retains the traditional stepmother and stepsisters who order Cinderella round. They don’t get redeemed on the finish, however in addition they don’t endure a horrible destiny. (Except you try these sequels — critically, they’re surprisingly superior.)
Ball, ballgown, carriage, curfew: The king throws a ball to assist his son discover a spouse. Cinderella will get a beautiful ballgown. A pumpkin will get was a carriage, and Cinderella’s animals associates develop into footmen! And he or she should get residence earlier than midnight comes, when all her magic will run out. Verify, verify, verify, and verify!
The figuring out merchandise: Sticking with custom right here with a glass slipper! Sure, the stepsisters attempt it on and might’t make it match. And sure, it does get used to establish Cinderella — with the enjoyable little plot twist that the one she left behind winds up shattered, however our gal Cindy proves her id by pulling out the second.
The revelation: Individuals have a tendency to provide the prince shit for not recognizing the lady he danced with all night time, however in his protection… He isn’t really the one who went out to seek out her! That’s left to the archduke, which is true to the Perrault model. As soon as the archduke learns that she’s the thriller lady, she and the prince have a stunning white marriage ceremony and journey off in a carriage. Huzzah!
General Cinderating: 14/15 — The animated Disney model nearly hits all of the marks. It’s the go-to for a cause, however individuals who haven’t revisited it just lately is perhaps stunned at how quirky and mischievous this Cinderella really is. She makes snarky asides concerning the stepmother and stepsisters, and undoubtedly has extra character than most individuals give her credit score for. The love story isn’t a lot past eyes-meeting-across-the-room, however typically the tried-and-true method works. If it ain’t broke, don’t repair it!
1. The Musical Adaptation: Cinderella (1997)
Loads of these Cinderellas contain some sort of music, however this one is particularly an adaptation of the 1957 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, and Letterboxd’s customers really rank it barely above the unique model. Notable for its colorblind casting, this model of Cinderella — affectionately often known as “the Brandy Cinderella” for its lead actress — has an all-star solid, together with Brandy, Whoopi Goldberg, Whitney Houston, Bernadette Peters, and Jason Alexander.
The heroine: Cinderella, as performed by Brandy, is a candy however deeply lonely younger girl with an enormous creativeness. She meets the prince of her nation by likelihood on the streets initially of the film, not realizing he’s royalty, and the 2 hit it off. By the tip, they’re in love and married, and Cinderella will get to depart the little basement she was confined to!
The prince: Christopher (Paolo Montalban) is a hopeless romantic who feels stifled by his station, and would fairly wander round in public than undergo the pomp and circumstance of being a prince.
The magical assist: A fairy godmother performed by Whitney Houston is a dream come true. She additionally narrates!
The villains: The stepmother, performed by Bernadette Peters, simply needs her daughters to win the hand of the prince! She additionally makes Cinderella do all of the chores and carry all their groceries. The step-family’s destiny will get a fast, fast decision on the finish — they’re locked out of Cinderella’s royal marriage ceremony, and whereas they attain by means of the gates, she clearly hasn’t forgiven them but.
Ball, ballgown, carriage, curfew: The prince’s mother and father throw a ball for him to discover a suitor. Cinderella will get her gown remodeled into a beautiful blue ballgown. The Fairy Godmother transforms a pumpkin right into a golden carriage. And Cinderella should get residence earlier than midnight.
The figuring out merchandise: True to custom, Cinderella leaves behind the glass slipper, and her sisters (and stepmother!) combat over whether or not they could make it match and steal the prince’s affections. When the prince sees Cinderella, to his credit score he does acknowledge her, and he repeats what he stated throughout their first assembly, for additional romance factors. However he nonetheless affords her the shoe to put on, to seal the deal on her id.
The revelation: Certain sufficient, proper after the shoe suits, the glad couple kisses and the fairy godmother whirls her wand to dress them in marriage ceremony garb. Huzzah, the marriage is abruptly underway! Very environment friendly! Very fortunately ever after!
General Cinderating: 15/15 — Not solely does the Brandy Cinderella have an ideal Cinderating, it’s additionally an pleasing film in its personal proper. The songs (a few of which come from the Rodgers and Hammerstein model) are infectiously catchy and don’t drag. The costumes and set design are vibrant and distinct, and Cinderella and the prince have a connection that goes past love at first sight. The aspect characters are all memorable, with good notes of humor to spherical out the extra simple romantic arc. General, the Brandy Cinderella is the proper mix of custom and ingenuity.
Ever After, Cinderella (1950), and Cinderella (1997) can be found to stream on Disney Plus. A Cinderella Story is obtainable on Netflix. The Slipper and the Rose is available on YouTube for free.