Film: Ever After

"And while Cinderella and her Prince did live happily ever after, the point, gentlemen, is that they lived."
Grand Dame

Ever After: A Cinderella Story is a 1998 film adaptation of the classic "Cinderella" story. Set in Renaissance France, the film eschews the magical elements of the original story and treats the plot as straight Historical Fiction.

The story begins when The Brothers Grimm are invited to the home of a French noblewoman who tells them how much she enjoyed their story of Cinderella, but that they got some details wrong. She then proceeds to tell them this story...

Danielle de Barbarac (Drew Barrymore) is the beloved only child of the widowed Auguste de Barbarac and his late wife, Nicole de Lancret. When she is eight years old, he remarries the Baroness Rodmilla de Ghent (portrayed by Anjelica Huston), and brings her home along with her two daughters, spoiled and cruel Marguerite and gentle but weak-willed Jacqueline. Shortly thereafter, he dies, leaving Danielle to the care of her stepmother, who already resents the love that he displays to his daughter, and the estate's three devoted servants - the housemaids, Paulette and Louise, and the retainer, Louise's husband Maurice.

The movie skips ahead ten years, to when Danielle is eighteen. Their estate has fallen onto hard times and things keep "disappearing," to the anger of the Baroness. Danielle has, of course, become a virtual house slave to the family, but takes comfort in the familial love she shares with the servants and the kindness she receives from Jacqueline. One morning, she is gathering apples in the estate's orchard when she spies someone stealing the horse of her late father. Enraged, she chucks apples at him, ultimately causing him to fall. It turns out to be the Crown Prince of France, running away from a father who wants to marry him off. To buy her silence, he gives her a great amount of gold.

Danielle and the Prince meet again when Danielle, disguised as a courtier and using her mother's name, goes to the castle to rescue Maurice, whom the Baroness had sold into slavery to pay off some of her debt. The Prince is intrigued by "Nicole's" beliefs and courage, and asks to meet her again. A courtship ensues, in which Danielle keeps trying to tell Henry that she is really not a countess and the Baroness gets increasingly suspicious of Danielle's odd appearances and disappearances. The King and Queen, desperate to marry their son off, are delighted that he has found a girl... but are keen to meet her, something Danielle wishes to avoid. Meanwhile, Leonardo da Vinci, who has been invited to court, befriends both Danielle and Henry and everything seems to be going along well, save for Danielle's growing anxiety about maintaining the masquerade.

This film provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Danielle swims, climbs trees and punches people in the face. Later frees herself from slavery by threatening her captor with a sword.
  • Academic Athlete: Danielle, who's a bookworm, a tree-climber, and does her own heavy lifting, certainly qualifies. She's also an accomplished pitcher (the apple scene) and swordswoman.
  • Amazon Chaser: Henry wants to know how "Nicole" lives with that kind of passion. He says to her, "You swim alone, climb rocks, rescue servants. Is there anything you don't do?" Later in the scene she hoists him over her shoulders to save his life.
  • Archetypal Character: Danielle = Cinderella, obviously.
  • Arranged Marriage: Defied. Since neither the groom nor bride wants to go through with it, the wedding is canceled midway through the ceremony.
  • Artistic License History: This is almost right, but... the researchers misunderstood. At one point, Henry feeds one of the stepsisters chocolate saying "the Spanish monks keep sending bricks of this stuff." Yes, the Spanish were responsible for bringing chocolate abroad during their missions, and yes, chocolate was popular in France, forming several "chocolate houses" but there wouldn't be any "bricks" of chocolate. Solid chocolate was developed about two centuries later by the British, and mastered by Swiss (who made milk chocolate). So, either she would be drinking it (she wasn't) or eating a cocoa bean (which is bigger), or the seed (conceivable, but she wouldn't be finding it "sinful" because the seeds of the bean were rather bitter without sugar). In any case, shipping to France would not have been done by the Spanish, since the Spanish kept it a secret for a century or so. More here.
    • The entire movie is rather hodge-podge as far as accuracy goes. Thomas More's Utopia was published in 1516, and Leonardo da Vinci died in 1519 (in France, it must be said). 1519 was also the same year Henry II, son of Frances I, was born. His mother's name was Claude, not Marie, and he was married to Catherine de Medici.
  • Backstabbing the Alpha Bitch
    Baroness Rodmilla de Ghent: "Jacqueline, darling, I should hate to think you had anything to do with this."
    Jacqueline: [sarcastically] "Of course not, Mother. I'm only here for the food."
  • Bedsheet Ladder: Henry uses one to make his getaway when he's rebelling against the arranged marriage and from his mother's comment this isn't the first time he's done this.
  • Berserk Button: "I would rather die a thousand deaths than see MY MOTHER'S DRESS on that SPOILED SELFISH COW!"
    Danielle: (picking up the slippers) These are my mother's!
    Marguerite: Yes. And she's DEAD.
    Danielle: (marches over to Marguerite and socks her in the eye) You HAG! I'LL RIP YOUR HAIR OUT!
  • Beta Couple/Pair the Spares: It's implied that Jacqueline, the mellower stepsister and the only one of the de Ghents to show Danielle any genuine kindness at all, hooks up with Henry's right-hand man Laurent.
  • Big "NO!": Danielle does one when Marguerite throws her father's book - the only memento she has left of him - into the fireplace.
  • Bilingual Bonus:
    • Princess Gabriella, Prince Henry's Spanish betrothed, doesn't speak a word of English (er, French?), and she babbles at him during their wedding to explain her heartbreak. No subtitles are used, but it's fairly clear from the context that she's in love with one of her parents' courtiers.
    • Her parents' dialogue after Henry cancels the wedding and sends Gabriella to her beloved's arms is pretty funny too, especially the queen repeatedly shouting "Tu culpa!" (your fault) at the king.
  • Bitch Alert: She didn't get much screen time as a child, but Marguerite's very first spoken line as an adult places her under this trope decisively.
    "I wanted four-minute eggs, not four one-minute eggs, and where in God's name is our bread?!"
  • Blondes Are Evil: Marguerite again, very blond and very much an antagonistic bitch.
  • Break the Haughty: Rodmilla and Marguerite get their pride completely shattered near the end of the film. There's also Henry, but unlike the first two, he turns out better for it.
  • Call Back: Danielle is the only one to see her father collapse from his fatal heart attack, because she's the only one to watch him ride away, explaining that "It's a tradition - he always waves at the gate." Ten years later, when she goes to the ball, the servants stop Leonardo from going to see Gustave's paintings by exclaiming, "It's a tradition!" Sure enough, at the gate, Danielle waves to them from the carriage.
  • Chewing the Scenery: Everyone is occasionally (probably consciously, due to the quick changes between humor and seriousness) guilty of this, the eight-year-old Danielle in particular.
    • Honorable mention to Marguerite, who throws a full-blown temper tantrum with stamping and screaming and yelling in front of the Queen of France. ("There was a bee.")
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Alas, poor Gustave.
    "No one will be looking at your feet."
  • Clothes Make the Legend: Danielle's mother's shoes, which give rise to the legend of the fabled "glass slipper."
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Leonardo da Vinci tries to walk on water using special shoes he made! He also tries to make a flying machine or two.
  • Cruel Mercy: Danielle keeps Rodmilla from being shipped off to the Americas... by asking the king to "show her the same courtesy that she has bestowed upon me." Cut to Rodmilla and Marguerite being ushered to their new jobs in the palace laundry.
    Danielle: I want you to know that I will forget you after this moment, and never think of you again. But you, I am quite certain, will think of me every day and for the rest of your life.
  • Damsel in Distress: Inverted. By the time that Henry shows up to rescue Danielle from Le Pieu, she has already freed herself.
  • Dastardly Whiplash: Le Pieu is essentially a Renaissance France variation on this archetype.
  • Deceased Parents Are the Best: Danielle reveres her father's memory and trash-talking her mother is not a good idea.
  • Distressed Dude:
    • Maurice, whom Danielle saves from being sold and shipped overseas near the beginning of the film.
    • Henry runs into some trouble with a band of gypsies, leading to Danielle being the one to save him.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Jacqueline finally standing up to her mother at the end.
  • Dying Declaration of Love: Auguste to his daughter, Danielle. Cue Rodmilla making the girl's life completely miserable for the next ten years.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: It isn't easy for Danielle or Henry, but they ultimately find happiness in their marriage.
  • Effortless Amazonian Lift: When told by the gypsies who've waylaid them that she may leave with anything she can carry, Danielle hoists Henry over her shoulder and proceeds to walk off with him. The Leader of the gypsies is so impressed that he calls her back to offer her a horse.
  • Empathic Environment: As Danielle sits alone and crying after Henry publicly rejects her at the masque, it starts pouring.
  • Exact Words: When Danielle picks Henry up after being told she can leave with "anything she can carry".
  • Famous Ancestor: It's not clear exactly who the woman telling the story to the brothers Grimm is (they address her as "Your Majesty," while the credits identify her as "Grande Dame"), but at the end she refers to Henry and Danielle as being her great-great-grandparents, adding that by the time of "the Revolution," "the truth of their romance had been reduced to a simple Fairy Tale. It's been speculated that the woman is Marie Therese, daughter of Louis XVI and Marie Antoniette. It would make sense, since she would be the direct descendant of Henry and Danielle, and would qualify to be "Your Majesty", since she was Queen, by marriage, of France.
    • Not really, since the Valois line, Henry's dynasty, ended with his daughter. Louis XVI was of the Bourbon line. It's still possible descent-wise, given royal inter-marriages, but not through the direct royal line.
  • Framing Device: The movie is about one of Cinderella's descendants telling The Brothers Grimm about her real life.
  • Funny Background Event: The first moment we see Pierre Le Pieu, a donkey can be heard braying in the background.
  • Generation Xerox:
    • According to the Barbarac servants, Danielle looks almost exactly like her mother. Meanwhile, Rodmilla — in the single moment of remote kindness we see her show to her stepdaughter — remarks that Danielle has a lot of her father in her.
    • Marguerite behaves a lot like her mother, cruel and vain and placing social status above all else.
    • Inverted by Jacqueline, who resembles her mother in coloring, but doesn't act like her; she proves to be very kind, simply lacking the courage to stand up to her mother and sister.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Le Pieu says that he may no longer be young, but that he is "well-endowed". Is he talking about his wealth and holdings, or something else?
  • Gorgeous Period Dress: Several are worn by Danielle to look the part of a courtier. Her family wears them too.
  • Grounded Forever: As punishment for his disobedience, the king tells Prince Henry that he'll "deny you the crown and... live forever!" Much to the King's dismay, Henry replies, "Good. Agreed. I don't want it!"
  • Happily Ever After: Duh. It's the title.
  • Happily Married:
    • King Francis and Queen Marie (despite their periodic snarkiness with each other)
    • Danielle and Henry clearly establish that they're going to be this in the first few months of their marriage that we see.
    • It's implied that Jacqueline and Laurent will end up this as well.
  • Humiliation Conga: Happens to Rodmilla and Marguerite in the end; permanent service in the Palace Laundry, as well as Rodmilla being stripped of her Baroness title.
  • I Gave My Word: Danielle asks for this from the Gypsy leader to allow her anything she can carry. He agrees and does nothing to stop her from lifting the Prince to carry him away. He's so impressed, he offers Danielle and the Prince a horse and a meal.
  • Impoverished Patrician: Baroness Rhodmila of Ghent externally acts like she has money to burn when in actuality she secretly sells possessions and even a servant to pay off her debts.
  • Informed Ability: Danielle is an old hand with the sword, though we never see her use one and it is only mentioned once. It's entirely possible that she's bluffing, given that she claims she was trained by her father, who by her account would have had to have taught her well before she was eight.
  • Inelegant Blubbering: Gabriella, the Spanish Princess, because she's forced to marry someome other than the spanish courtier she's in love with. Can you really blame the poor girl?
  • Ironic Echo: Delivered by Jacqueline - see Backstabbing the Alpha Bitch.
  • Jerkass: Rodmilla and Marguerite. Especially Marguerite.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Everybody gets what they deserve. Rodmillla and Marguerite are forced to work in the palace laundry. Monsieur le Pieu traded everything he bought from Rodmilla for Danielle, then lost it all when she escaped. Meanwhile, the kinder stepsister Jacqueline and the Barbarac servants who essentially raised Danielle all get to live with her in royal comfort, while she and her Prince get their Happily Ever After.
  • Kick the Dog:
    • Rodmilla kicks several dogs through out the movie.
      • After Danielle has been rejected by Henry and utterly humiliated in front of the entire French court, Rodmilla decides to sell her - to her Stalker with a Crush.
      • When Danielle asks Rodmilla if she has ever loved her, even a little bit, Rodmilla's response is a cold "How can anyone love a pebble in their shoe?"
      • The whole business of selling off household items on the sly and then punishing the servants for their "theft" by docking their wages...
      • Marguerite throws Danielle's favorite (and only) book, the last gift she ever got from her father, into the fireplace, even after Danielle surrenders her mother's shoes to her. Then Rodmilla gives her a lashing.
      • Early on in the film, Rodmilla advises Jacqueline (who is much softer-spoken than her sister) "not to speak unless (she) can improve the silence."
    • Marguerite is like her mother. Not just the book incident; she also tells Danielle that Jacqueline (who was actually upset that her mother was trying to give Danielle's dress to Marguerite) didn't want Danielle to go to the ball.
  • Masquerade Ball: A regal celebration at which Henry's engagement is to be announced.
  • Memento MacGuffin: The copy of Utopia which was Danielle's last gift from her father; also Danielle's mother's shoes.
  • A Minor Kidroduction: We first meet Danielle, her stepsisters, and her friend Gustave as children, before Danielle's father's death ushers in a ten-year-long Time Skip.
  • Mythology Gag: Some of the traditional elements of the Cinderella story show up in different places than usual. For instance, in this version Danielle's trip to the ball doesn't end with her exclaiming at the time and doing a runner, but one of her earlier meetings with Henry does.
  • The Namesake: The 'Cinderella' title is invoked when we learn that this is Marguerite's nickname for her stepsister. It comes into play when they're having tea with the Queen, who asks them if they know the woman who has so enraptured Henry.
    Rodmilla: She's been around for years. And, staying with us as a matter of fact.
    Marguerite: Yes. Of course. ...Our cousin.
    Rodmilla: ...Whom you like to call 'Cinderella'.
    Marguerite: [realizes who this means and throws a massive tantrum]
  • Oh, Crap: "Did you, or did you not, lie to Her Majesty the Queen of France?"
    • Danielle is also clearly having these thoughts when she first pretends to be a courtier (trying to free Maurice) and hears Prince Henry behind her.
  • Parental Abandonment: Danielle's father dies of a heart attack about fifteen minutes into the film.
  • Perverted Sniffing: Pierre le Pieu sniffs Danielle's hair this way after she is sold to him..
  • Pet the Dog:
    • After Danielle is whipped for punching Marguerite in the face, Jacqueline nurses the lash-marks on her back, adding that Marguerite should never have said what she did about Danielle's mother.
    • Rodmilla gets a single moment of this when she tells Danielle that she looks a lot like her father.
      • Subverted immediately afterward when she appears to catch herself and explains that what she really meant is that Danielle's appearance and mannerisms are mannish.
  • Please Don't Leave Me: Rodmilla does one of these to Auguste as he lies dying of a heart attack, but it's more out of selfishness than love, since she's wailing that he "cannot leave [her] here" and basically ignoring his heartbroken young daughter kneeling beside him, and proceeds to be horrible to her for the next ten years.
  • The Queen's Latin: Although they are in Renaissance France, everyone (including the Italian Da Vinci) speaks with a British accent. Barrymore's is particularly jarring.
  • Rebel Prince: Henry isn't keen to assume his princely duties, and first meets Danielle when he's running away from home. He's rebellious out of snobbish boredom.
  • Renaissance Man: The original Renaissance man, Leonardo da Vinci himself, shows up to facilitate the romance.
  • Requisite Royal Regalia: The King and Queen, as well as Prince Henry, are crowned and in full court dress for the public humiliation of Rodmilla and Marguerite, and the revelation of Henry's wife, the newly-titled Princess Danielle.
  • Returning The Handkerchief: What the girls hope will happen in the badminton scene—Henry has handkerchiefs stuffed into his clothing by hopeful courtiers.
  • Rich Bitch: Rodmilla and Marguerite. Henry may also count as a male example, at least at first.
  • Royal Brat: Prince Henry is a male version, to some extent. After he gets taken down a peg with an AWESOME speech from Leonardo da Vinci (yes, that one), he gets better.
  • Sadistic Choice: Danielle is forced to choose between letting Marguerite wear her dress and shoes to the masque or forever lose the last thing her father ever gave her. Even after she surrenders the shoes to Marguerite, the spiteful bitch tosses the book in the fireplace anyway.
  • Say My Name:
    • Danielle, in a heartwarming scene where Prince Henry (in apologizing for being a Jerkass) spontaneously calls Danielle by her real name (instead of Nicole, her mother's name, which he has been using up this point). She begs him to repeat it — not the apology, but the part where he says her name.
    • There's the bit where he tells her to call him Henry instead of "Your Highness" (which is how he demanded she refer to him as when he discovered she was a commoner).
  • Shrinking Violet: Jacqueline is quiet and shy.
  • Smug Snake: Le Pieu is especially smug after Danielle is made his slave.
  • Society Is to Blame: What Danielle believes.
    Danielle: A servant is not a thief, your Highness, and those who are cannot help themselves.
    Henry: Really! Well then by all means, enlighten us.
    Danielle: If you suffer your people to be ill-educated, and their manners corrupted from infancy, and then punish them for those crimes to which their first education disposed them, what else is to be concluded, sire, but that you first make thieves and then punish them?
  • Stalker with a Crush: Monsieur le Pieu is implied to be something like this to Danielle, judging by his behavior toward her in the marketplace and then later when he owns her.
  • Stealth Pun: The historically homosexual Leonardo da Vinci is Danielle's Fairy Godmother.
  • A Taste of the Lash: Rodmilla gives this to Danielle as punishment for punching Marguerite. We do not see the lashing take place, thankfully, instead it cuts to a touching scene of Jacqueline treating her wounds.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: Jacqueline catching Laurent's eye at the ball.
  • Timeshifted Actor: Danielle, Marguerite, Jacqueline, and Gustave are played by different actors before the time skip. Justified since they're all children at this point.
  • Time Skip: We don't see anything between the father's death and Danielle's eighteenth year, a jump of ten years.
  • Twice Told Tale: Cinderella, obviously.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Danielle is the tomboy to Marguerite and Jacqueline for reasons outline under Amazon Chaser. The short of it is she has boyish hobbies and they are more interested in the best dress for a ball.
  • Truth in Television: While this movie is infamous for its historical inaccuracies (but then again, this is a fairy tale they're retelling), they did get a few things right. Francis I was a huge Italiophile, and spent much of his reign and resources trying to get his hands on the city of Milan. As a result, he incorporated many Italian characteristics into his court, including fashion (which would explain the Italian fashions in the movie, even if they would have been at least a decade out of style) and art (Leonardo da Vinci really did spend his last few years in France, which is how many of his works ended up in the palace known as the Louvre).
  • The Unfavourite: Of Rodmilla's two daughters, Jacqueline is obviously not as dear to her mother as Marguerite is and obviously there's Danielle, whom the Baroness quite clearly doesn't care about in any kind of motherly way at all.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Marguerite and Jacqueline's father is evidently deceased prior to the movie, but who's running the barony of Ghent? It may be that Rodmilla de Ghent is the Baroness in her OWN right considering that The Queen stripped her of it and there would be no point of stripping a dowager of her title.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Leonardo's speech to Henry after he rejects Danielle is pretty epic.
    • May also count as a Precision F-Strike - although the actual f-bomb is not dropped, this is the only real instance of profanity in the movie, and leaves both Henry and the audience somewhat stunned.
  • Wicked Stepmother: Wouldn't be a Cinderella retelling without one, would it?
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Danielle goes to the masquerade ball to attempt to tell Henry who she truly is. Unfortunately, Rodmilla immediately seizes the chance to tell him herself, humiliating Danielle in front of the entire French court and causing Henry to coldly reject her.
  • You Got Spunk: Le Pieu, as he tells Danielle more than once, likes a girl with spirit.