Cinderella, a millennial fairy tale more current than ever
A date is not yet there but the countdown has already begun: in September, exclusively on Amazon Prime Video, an ancient but always current fable will arrive – in a musical version: Cinderella. The film of the same name, which will be directed by Kay Cannon, will see a cast of stars at work, including Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Camila Cabello (in the title role), Idina Menzel, Billy Porter, Minnie Driver, Nicholas Galitzine and Pierce Brosnan.
A thousand-year-old fairy tale
It is a new version of a thousand-year-old universal history, whose origin dates back even in Egypt of the XXVI dynasty (between 672-525 a.C), in the Lucky story of the hetero Rodopi, as reported by the Roman philosopher Claudius Aelianus. In that very first version, the protagonist receives as a gift from her master a pair of red gold slippers, a gesture that only exacerbate the behavior of the other slaves towards her. When Pharaoh Amasis (who really existed) invites all the people of Egypt to a great celebration in the city of Memphis, Rodopi – already heavily harassed – is left at home, inundated with tasks to be done. The god Horus reaches her in the form of a falcon, grabs a slipper to take her to Pharaoh. A divine gesture that is seized by Pharaoh: Amasis thus decides that the girl of the kingdom who will perfectly fit the slipper will become his bride. He will find Rodopi, he will find love.
From Giambattista Basile to the Brothers Grimm
It is from there that Cinderella is born, a fairy tale that all over the world, in over two thousand years, appears in over three hundred different versions, based on the different popular traditions of each country that have modified and reworked some elements, including the title: from the Chinese Yeh-Shen (in the story told by Tuan Ch’ing-Shih) to The magic jar (a Persian fairy tale), from the Russian Zolushka African Natiki Island. In Italy the first written version is by Giambattista Basile, published in 1634 under the title The Cinderella Cat inside the famous Cunto de li cunti (which inspired The story of the stories of Matthew Garrone of 2015). Written in Neapolitan and set in the Kingdom of Naples, Basile’s story also inspired the animated film of the same name – Cat Cinderella – directed by Alessandro Rak, Ivan Cappiello, Marino Guarnieri and Dario Sansone presented at the 74th Venice Film Festival. After Basile’s, there were then the equally famous versions of Charles Perrault (in the second half of the seventeenth century) and Brothers Grimm (1812, the title is Aschenputtel).
Cinderella at the cinema
Cinderella it is a real myth that today we all know thanks above all to the great animated classic Walt Disney of 1950. The protagonist, orphaned by her mother, finds herself living with her father and his new wife (Lady Tremaine), also a widow and parent of two daughters (Genoveffa and Anastasia) poor in spirit. Cinderella – a name given to her by her stepmother and two half-sisters (because of the ash with which she gets dirty when she cleans the fireplace) – always relegated to home and exploited as a servant (or rather, slave), on the day of the party organized by the Prince of the kingdom, manages to reach the dance from which she was excluded thanks to the intervention of her fairy godmother (Smemorina) who gives her a beautiful dress and a pair of crystal shoes. She will dance with the prince, fall in love with him and, fleeing to the carriage at the stroke of midnight, will lose one of the two shoes. The Prince will find her: it is to her that the shoe and her heart belong.
The Disney cartoon is a real watershed in the filmography linked to the fairy tale of Cinderella. Just like the stories, the versions of the films are also very different from each other. Starting with the very first silent shorts of the brilliant Georges Méliès (Cendrillon, 1899) and George Nichols (Cinderella, 1911, with Florence La Badie) to the first film of 1914 by James Kirkwood (Cinderella, with Mary Pickford) and to the first titles directed in Italia, la Cenerentola by Ugo Falena and Giorgio Ricci (1920) and that of Fernando Cerchio, a film revival of the homonymous opera that Gioachino Rossini made in 1817.
After the Disney film, the feature films focused on this fable have definitely increased. We mention some of them: from The glass shoe of Charles Walters (1955, with Leslie Caron and Estelle Winwood) to Cinderella, the musical – live on CBS TV – directed by Ralph Nelson and starring Julie Andrews (1957), from the Cinderella of Václav Vorlíček (1973), a The Princess on the Pea (1973, directed by Piero Regnoli, an erotic version with Susanna Martinková) and Aschenputtel (1989, TV movie by Karin Brandauer). The 90s begin with Pretty Woman, garry marshall’s modern Cinderella in which Julia Roberts conquers the billionaire’s heart Richard Gere. Seven years later here again Cinderella, a new television musical by Rodgers and Hammerstein (directed by Robert Iscove, remake of Nelson’s 1957) with Brandy – Whitney Houston and Whoopi Goldberg.
Cinderella by Andy Tennant
New transpositions and re-readings will follow in a modern key: from The legend of a love – Cinderella by Andy Tennant (1998, with Anjelica Huston Drew Barrymore and Dougray Scott) to Cinderella forever by Beeban Kidron (2000, with Kathleen Turner, David Warner and Marcella Plunkett), from Cinderella Story by Mark Rosman (2004, with Hilary Duff) to the sequel Another Cinderella Story by Damon Santostefano (2008, with Selena Gomez), which is also the prequel to the less famous and successful A Cinderella Story: Once Upon a Song (2011, from 2019 available on Netflix). Of 2015 is instead the new Disney film, the live action Cinderella directed by the formidable actor and director Kenneth Branagh and with protagonists Lily James and Richard Madden.
Cinderella by Kenneth Branagh
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A fairy tale that is always current
In the new Amazon Prime Video musical, our heroine (played by Camila Cabello) is an ambitious young woman with the greatest dreams in the world in which she lives but, supported by Fab G (Billy Porter), with perseverance he will be able to realize his desires. On the other hand, it is precisely this that cinderella represents, the dream of every teenage girl who has in her heart the desire to please for what she is. Her beauty is not only physical, it represents her goodness of mind. And the Prince, who really falling in love with her will make her a princess, must not indicate success and wealth, but rather Love. And it is precisely this that will save Cinderella, a girl who found herself without a mother and with a father who remarried to another woman further ruined her existence. Without maternal love (and the attention that only a mother can give), Cinderella must struggle to earn the happiness she deserves, hindered by the wicked half-sisters who so remember those who bully the other, blind with anger, jealousy, envy.
From ancient Egypt to 2021, this fairy tale is always current and continues to make all those broken souls who try to get up after a loss dream, with a shattered family. But mothers, even from up there never leave us. As gods, as you do, they come down to earth to tell Cinderella that she is unique, just like those crystal shoes. They invite her to raise her head and go to the dance, relying on a magical destiny.