|Directed by||Andy Tennant|
by Charles Perrault
|Edited by||Roger Bondelli|
|Music by||George Fenton|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Box office||$98 million|
Ever After (known in promotional material as Ever After: A Cinderella Story) is a 1998 American romantic period drama film inspired by the Charles Perrault fairy tale, "Cinderella". It is directed by Andy Tennant and stars Drew Barrymore, Anjelica Huston, Dougray Scott, Jeanne Moreau, Megan Dodds, Melanie Lynskey, Patrick Godfrey, Lee Ingleby, Richard O'Brien, Timothy West, and Judy Parfitt. Tennant, Susannah Grant and Rick Parks wrote the screenplay. George Fenton composed the original music score. The film's closing theme song, "Put Your Arms Around Me", is performed by the rock band Texas.
The film removes the pantomime and supernatural elements that are commonly associated with the Cinderella tale and instead treats the story as historical fiction, setting it in Renaissance-era France. It is considered to be a modern, post-feminist interpretation of the fairy tale.
The Brothers Grimm are invited to an audience with the Grand Dame, who expresses her disappointment in their version of Cinderella. She produces a jeweled slipper and recounts Cinderella's true story.
During the French Renaissance, ten years after the death of Auguste de Barbarac, his teenage daughter, Danielle, has been forced to become a servant to her stepmother, the Baroness Rodmilla de Ghent, and to her stepsisters, Marguerite and Jacqueline, the latter of the two being the only one kind to her. One morning, Danielle has an unexpected confrontation with Prince Henry as he is attempting to flee in order to avoid an arranged marriage, at first mistaking him for a thief. Henry gives Danielle some gold coins to keep their interlude secret and rides away. He is eventually caught by the Royal Guard after stopping Romani bandits from robbing Leonardo da Vinci, whom King Francis, his father, has invited to the French court.
Danielle, going disguised as a noblewoman, takes the gold coins to the palace to buy back a family servant who was sold Rodmilla. Henry witnesses her arguing with the jailer and, impressed by Danielle's passion and her intelligence, orders the servant released. When Henry asks for her name, Danielle, afraid, hastily lies and gives her mother's name: Countess Nicole de Lancret. Later that night, King Francis strikes a deal with Henry: he will hold a masquerade ball at which Henry will announce his engagement to the woman of his choosing, or else marry the Princess of Spain. Hearing this news, Rodmilla accelerates her efforts at getting Henry to notice Marguerite, while being increasingly neglectful to Jacqueline. Meanwhile, Danielle begins secretly spending time with Henry.
Marguerite plans to wear an exquisite gown and jeweled slippers, which had been Danielle's mother's wedding gown, for the ball; leading to Danielle attacking Marguerite for insulting her mother's memory. Marguerite retaliates by destroying the copy of Utopia that Auguste had given Danielle. After Rodmilla has Danielle whipped, Jacqueline treats her wounds, expressing sympathy for Danielle and criticizing Marguerite for her cruelty.
Queen Marie holds a luncheon with Marguerite and Rodmilla and expresses curiosity about the mysterious girl who has taken Henry's fancies. Rodmilla, recognizing the name of Danielle's mother, deduces that the girl is Danielle and lies that Henry's sweetheart is already engaged.
Danielle tries to tell Henry the truth, but cannot bring herself to do so when he tells her she has changed him as a man, inspiring him to build a university. Rodmilla confronts Danielle about her deception and the whereabouts of her mother's dress and slippers, which have vanished, then locks her in the pantry. Da Vinci helps Danielle escape; and the other servants, who are loyal to Danielle, reveal they had hidden the dress and slippers. Danielle arrives at the ball determined to tell Henry the truth; but Rodmilla exposes her before she can. Furious at her dishonesty, Henry rejects her. Danielle tearfully runs away, leaving a jeweled slipper behind. Da Vinci reproaches Henry for his callousness towards Danielle and leaves him the slipper.
Henry agrees to marry the Spanish Princess, but calls it off when he realizes she too loves someone else. Jacqueline tells Henry that Rodmilla sold Danielle to the lecherous Pierre Le Pieu. Henry rides off to rescue her, only to find that she has freed herself. Henry apologizes, professes his love for her, and proposes marriage by fitting the slipper onto her foot; Danielle happily accepts.
Rodmilla is summoned before the royal court and confronted for lying to the Queen about Danielle; she is stripped of her title and threatened with exile unless someone speaks for her. Danielle, now a princess, appears and instead asks that Rodmilla be shown the same "courtesy" her stepmother had shown her. Rodmilla and Marguerite are reduced to servants in the palace laundry; Jacqueline, for her kindness to Danielle, is spared from punishment. Leonardo gifts the royal newlyweds with a portrait of Danielle.
The Grande Dame tells the Brothers Grimm that her great-great grandmother's portrait hung in Henry's university until the French Revolution. She concludes by telling them while Danielle and Henry did live happily ever after, the point is that they lived.
While the story is fictional, it involves several historical figures, places and events. The film is set in the 16th and 19th centuries and features Francis I, Prince Henry (later Henry II of France), Leonardo da Vinci, The Brothers Grimm, as well as allusions to the explorer Jacques Cartier, the fairy tale collector Charles Perrault, the French colonies in the New World, and the French Revolution.
Though the main portion of the film takes place in early 1500s France, the royals shown are most likely not meant to be the historical figures for which they are named. King Francis I summoned Leonardo da Vinci to his court around 1516, three years before King Henry II was born; neither of King Francis I's wives was named Marie (the first was named Claude and the second Eleanor). King Henry II was married to Catherine de' Medici at the age of 14 and had no known children with Diane de Poitiers, a French noblewoman of great influence and the historical figure most likely represented by Danielle.
- Drew Barrymore as Danielle de Barbarac, the only child of the deceased Auguste de Barbarac and Nicole de Lancret
- Dougray Scott as Prince Henry of France
- Anjelica Huston as Baroness Rodmilla de Ghent, Danielle's wicked stepmother
- Jeanne Moreau as Grande Dame
- Megan Dodds as Marguerite de Ghent, Danielle's "evil" stepsister
- Melanie Lynskey as Jacqueline de Ghent, Danielle's "nice" stepsister
- Patrick Godfrey as Leonardo da Vinci
- Kate Lansbury as Paulette
- Matyelok Gibbs as Louise
- Walter Sparrow as Maurice
- Lee Ingleby as Gustave, Danielle's best friend
- Richard O'Brien as Monsieur Pierre Le Pieu
- Timothy West as King Francis, Henry's father
- Judy Parfitt as Queen Marie, Henry's mother
- Jeroen Krabbé as Auguste de Barbarac
- Peter Gunn as Captain Laurent
- Toby Jones as Royal Page
Locations and sets
The castle shown in the film is the Château de Hautefort 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 is based on Leonardo da Vinci's Head of a Woman (La Scapigliata).
On Rotten Tomatoes, 91% of 65 reviews were positive, with an average score of 7.60/10. The critical consensus states: "Ever After is a sweet, frothy twist on the ancient fable, led by a solid turn from star Barrymore". On Metacritic it has score of 66 out of 100 based on 22 reviews. Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade "A" on scale of A to F.
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 Marguerite, 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, praises the film with three out of four stars and writes, "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".
The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:
A report in 2012 indicated that a musical theatre production was in the works, with the book and lyrics by Marcy Heisler and music by Zina Goldrich. The musical was originally scheduled for its world premiere in April 2009 at the Curran Theatre in San Francisco, but the pre-Broadway run was postponed. In May 2012, the project was back on track with Kathleen Marshall signing on to direct a Broadway run.
A workshop of the musical was held from April 25, 2013 – May 15, 2013 with Sierra Boggess as Danielle, Jeremy Jordan as Prince Henry, and Ashley Spencer as Marguerite. The musical made its world premiere at the Paper Mill Playhouse from May 21, 2015 – June 21, 2015. Christine Ebersole played the role of Baroness Rodmilla de Ghent. Alongside Ebersole, Margo Seibert starred as Danielle, James Snyder as Henry, Charles Shaughnessy as King Francis, and Tony Sheldon as Leonardo da Vinci. Another production of the musical played at Atlanta's Alliance Theatre from January 15, 2019 to February 19. The production was directed by Susan V. Booth and starred Sierra Boggess as Danielle de Barbarac, Terry Burrell as Queen Marie, Todd Buonopane as Captain Laurent, David Garrison as Leonardo da Vinci, Chris Kayser as King Francis, Jeff McCarthy as Pierre Malette, Tim Rogan as Prince Henry and Rachel York as Baroness Rodmilla de Ghent. 
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