Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Andy Tennant|
by Charles Perrault
|Music by||George Fenton|
|Edited by||Roger Bondelli|
|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 drama film inspired by the fairy tale Cinderella. It was directed by Andy Tennant and stars Drew Barrymore, Anjelica Huston, Dougray Scott, and Jeanne Moreau. 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 story.
In 19th century France, the Grande Dame summons The Brothers Grimm to her palace. The brothers discuss their interpretation of the Cinderella story. The Grande Dame then shows them a slipper and tells them the story of Danielle de Barbarac.
The story goes back to Renaissance-era France in 1502. Auguste de Barbarac is a widower and the father of eight-year-old Danielle. Auguste marries Rodmilla de Ghent, a haughty baroness with two daughters, Marguerite and Jacqueline. Auguste gives Danielle a copy of Sir Thomas More's Utopia. The next day, while leaving for a trip, Auguste suffers a fatal heart attack and collapses off his horse. His dying declaration of love and attention are directed towards Danielle, sparking a lifelong jealousy of the girl in Rodmilla. Ten years later, the manor has fallen into debt and Danielle is forced to work as a servant for Rodmilla and her daughters. Jacqueline is the only one out of her family to show Danielle any kindness.
One day, Danielle stops a man from stealing her father's horse, only to realize that it is Prince Henry, running away from the palace in frustration. He gives her gold in exchange for her silence on the incident, as he is fleeing an arranged marriage to the Spanish Princess Gabriella. The royal guards catch him, however, after he stops to recover the Mona Lisa for Leonardo da Vinci, which had been stolen by gypsies. Meanwhile, Danielle uses the gold Henry gave her to buy back the servant Maurice, whom Rodmilla sold into slavery to pay off her debts. She dresses as a noblewoman and confronts the Cargomaster taking the slaves away. Henry overhears Danielle arguing with the Cargomaster and orders Maurice's release. Impressed with her confidence, Henry insistently begs for Danielle's name until she finally gives him the name of her deceased mother, Nicole de Lancret, with the added title of comtesse (countess). King Francis tells Henry that he is throwing a masquerade ball, where he must choose a bride or wed Gabriella. Meanwhile, Rodmilla schemes to marry Marguerite to Henry, finding excuses for the two to run into each other.
While Danielle is talking to her friend Gustave, Henry rides up and asks for directions; she runs and hides. Henry notices one of Da Vinci’s inventions given to Danielle, and Gustave is forced to admit he knows "Comtesse de Lancret" and tells Henry where she lives. Danielle runs home, changes clothes, and spends the day with Henry at the monastery’s library. They are accosted by gypsies, and after spending the evening at the gypsies camp, they share their first kiss. The next day, Danielle is woken up by Rodmilla and Marguerite, and she refuses to prepare their breakfast, much to their displeasure. Later that day, Danielle catches Rodmilla and Marguerite stealing her mother's dress and shoes for the upcoming ball. When Marguerite insults Danielle's mother, Danielle punches her and chases her through the house. Marguerite threatens to throw Auguste's book into the fire unless Danielle gives up the shoes. Danielle reluctantly obeys, but Marguerite, spiteful as always, throws the book into the fire regardless and Danielle watches in anguish as her treasured item burns. Afterwards, Rodmilla lashes Danielle as punishment for punching Marguerite. Jacqueline, feeling sorry for Danielle, tends to her wounds, agreeing that what Marguerite said about Danielle's mother was wrong.
Rodmilla discovers that Danielle is the mysterious Countess in whom Henry is interested, so she lies and tells Queen Marie that Danielle is engaged. Meanwhile, Danielle meets with Henry to tell him the truth, but he interrupts her and reveals to her that she has transformed his life and given him a sense of purpose. Henry also gives Danielle back Auguste's book, which she left in his carriage, revealing that the book that Marguerite burned was actually just a copy from Henry's library. Later, Rodmilla and Marguerite confront Danielle, demanding to know where she hid the gown and shoes, but Danielle refuses to produce them. As a result, Rodmilla locks Danielle in the pantry. Leonardo, whom Danielle has befriended, helps free her, and makes her a pair of wings to wear to the ball with her mother's dress and slippers. When Danielle arrives at the ball and tries again to tell Henry the truth, Rodmilla, determined to make Marguerite a princess, intentionally exposes Danielle as a fraud, and Henry angrily rejects her. Danielle bursts into tears and runs away, leaving a slipper behind. Leonardo finds the slipper and sternly reprimands Henry, leaving him with the slipper. Henry, hurt and angry, decides to wed Gabriella, but calls the wedding off after realizing that Gabriella doesn't want to marry him either and that he is still in love with Danielle. He learns from Maurice and Jacqueline that Rodmilla has sold Danielle to the lecherous landowner Pierre le Pieu. Pierre makes sexual advances towards Danielle, but frees her after she threatens him with his own swords. Henry finds her as she is leaving the castle, apologizes for his behavior at the ball, and proposes to her by placing the slipper on her foot.
Rodmilla and her daughters are summoned by King Francis, who accuses Rodmilla of lying to Queen Marie about Danielle. Queen Marie strips Rodmilla of her title and threatens to banish her and Marguerite to the Americas as punishment for their crimes unless someone speaks for them. Danielle enters, in her royal garb, and speaks for them, as they are her stepmother and stepsister. Danielle is introduced as Henry's wife and per her request, Rodmilla and Marguerite are given much more fitting punishments: they are sentenced to permanently work as servants in the palace laundry, much to their chagrin and humiliation. Meanwhile, Jacqueline, for having always shown Danielle kindness, is instead rewarded with permission to move into the royal palace with Danielle and Henry. She also begins a relationship with Laurent, the captain of the guard, who met her at the ball.
After Leonardo gives Henry and Danielle a portrait of Danielle (Head of a Woman), the newlyweds share a kiss, and the extended flashback comes to an end. Back in the present, the Grande Dame explains to The Brothers Grimm that Danielle was her great-great-grandmother and that her portrait hung in the university until the outbreak of the French Revolution, and that by then, the true story had been reduced to a simple fairy tale. She concludes the story by stating that while Henry and Danielle 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 the presences of Francis I, Prince Henry (later Henry II of France), Leonardo da Vinci, The Grimm brothers, as well as allusions to the explorer Jacques Cartier, 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 1500's 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, 3 years before Prince Henry II was born; neither of king Francis I's wives were named Marie (the first was named Claude and the second Eleanor). Prince 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. The characters are not meant to be historically accurate figures themselves, but perhaps instead to inspire curiosity about their historical counterparts.
|Drew Barrymore||Danielle de Barbarac|
|Dougray Scott||Crown Prince Henry II|
|Anjelica Huston||Baroness Rodmilla de Ghent|
|Megan Dodds||Marguerite de Ghent|
|Melanie Lynskey||Jacqueline de Ghent|
|Patrick Godfrey||Leonardo da Vinci|
|Richard O'Brien||Monsieur Pierre Le Pieu|
|Timothy West||King Francis|
|Judy Parfitt||Queen Marie|
|Jeroen Krabbé||Auguste de Barbarac|
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Ever After was filmed in Super 35.
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).
Rotten Tomatoes reports that 91% of critics gave the film a positive review based on 64 reviews, with an average score of 7.5/10. The critical consensus states: "Ever After is a sweet, frothy twist on the ancient fable, led by a solid turn from star Barrymore." Metacritic 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 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 du Ghent. 
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