“Cinder-Ella” A Critical Comparative Analysis on Cinderella & Ella Enchanted Essay
Almost every young woman hears the story of Cinderella growing up and at least once envisions a fairy godmother to rescue her from the chores that she has had unfairly heaped upon her head. Wicked stepmother and step-sisters are not required for this fantasy. So when Gail Carson Levine re-invented the Disney fairy tale in “Ella Enchanted” it was almost guaranteed to be a hit, but what sets it apart is that Levine takes Ella out of the victim status, well mostly, and send Ella off to save the prince, instead of the other way around.
Similarly in the movie, “Happily Never After” the writers see the need to update the fairy tale and get away from the stereotype that the princess needs rescuing. The most important difference in the story is that Ella becomes a real person and in the traditional story she is a caricature, the needy child who is put upon by the world and must be rescued, repeatedly through the story, by her animal friends (making the first dress), her fairy godmother and finally, the prince himself.
In the traditional Disney telling of Cinderella, Cinderella is treated virtually as a slave in her own home by her stepmother and step-sisters. She is given chore after chore when her stepmother has squandered the family fortune and can no longer afford the servants. She is supposed to be the loveliest of the sisters, but her stepmother wants to climb the social ladder through her daughters and that does not include her stepchild. In a manner typical of the era in which Disney made the original Cinderella movie, the story emphasizes her physical beauty and her kindness. She is depicted as a competent homemaker who is kind to animals. In the modern retelling, Ella is all that and more. She is depicted as intelligent and kind-hearted and capable. In “Ella Enchanted”, Ella is cursed with the need to follow orders. She attempts to hide this from those who would use it to harm her and she is forced to take the instructions literally, but eventually her wicked stepmother finds out and uses the curse to try to keep Ella away from the prince. In the meantime, the Prince finds himself in dire circumstances while people are plotting to steal his throne.
The key difference in the story is the modern take on Ella’s personality. Instead of being a poor waif requiring someone to save her, in the movie Ella is a strong, funny young woman who wins the prince not based on her looks, but on her drive and her desire to save him from himself and his enemies. Levine’s modern take worked so well that others adopted it, stealing her modernized version of Ella for other retellings of classic fairy tales. In 2007, when Sarah Michelle Gellar reprised Anne Hathaway’s role of Ella, she obviously took Levine’s version of Ella, not the Disney version. The film, called Happily Never After. retells classic fairy tales from the concept of what if the bad guys won and in the end, it is the modern kick-butt version of Ella, clearly copied from Levine’s Ella, that defeats the evil enchantress and saves fairyland for the good guys. In effect, Levine redefined fairy tales.
One of the complaints many women have had about fairy tales is that they imply by their very nature that women need rescuing. By redefining Ella and making her a strong heroine, Levine changes the impact of the story and makes it a modern and interesting story. By updating the world around Ella, she makes it a fun tale for young girls to watch, including fun music and dancing, without becoming preachy or archaic. The updates to the story, including even the humor of Ella’s literal interpretation of her orders, continues to improve the story and make it more fun for the viewer. And, though the prince needs Ella’s help, he is not depicted as a complete idiot either, so the role reversal does not end up in demeaning boys. The important aspects of Levine’s work and the movie interpretation of it is that it modernizes Ella and makes her stronger on her own, without resorting to making other people weak.
Consequently, the lighthearted fairytale extravaganza of both stories connote one common aim: to captivate the readers or the viewers in that instance in the most sentimental sense by treating the ‘feminine’ characters as that which belongs to the rather ‘lowest’ category o on the pyramid of the society, or the ‘discriminated ones’ at that. Cinderella and Ella were both treated like mud by their families, thus creating a different hysteria on ‘protagonist’ arena thus giving the audience a ‘twist’ in the later part of the story. Many critics would seemingly rate the author as ‘sadist’ and ‘cruel’ for being so mean to such characters, hence comes in explicit evidence that it serves the worth of both stories being loved by many. Furthermore, given the fact that both stories share a scene of agony, hope and love, it is still a formidable state of fact that Ella, although vested with the prudently worse situation, Cinderella still marks the top chart. It may then be taken to assumption that the issue on “originality” and “pioneerism” is still a floating piece of attraction to the contemporary society. Although it may also be given consideration since that the advent of ‘global competition’ triggered the artist to produce ‘more’ or the ‘best’ for that instance, Ella’s enchanting finesse had been covered with the mainstreams of variation. Aside from that, Cinderella’s formidable sense of character and ‘talented state of being’ has not been overpowered by Ella’s charm. Perceivably, it is because time has already created multifarious characters which are “Cinderella-like” and the society is already fed with too much of those ‘heartbreaker’ icons. In the light, it is inevitable for both characters to be compared, but the root of all arguments on “who dominates” in the eyes of the masses is but an undying deliberation. Apparently, it is not only both stories which denotes critical analysis and comparison, there also goes other “Cinderella stories” such as: Ever After, and The Princess Test and a lot more which boggles the minds, but captures the hearts of the public in total hysteria.
Anderson, Ken and Homer Brightman. “Cinderella”, Disney Studios, 1950.
Langdale, Douglas and Robert Moreland. “Happily Never After”, Berlin Animation Film, January, 2007.
Levine, Gail Carson and Laurie Craig. “Ella Enchanted” Miramax Films, 2005.