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Film / Cinderella (1947)

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Zolushka and the F.G.

Cinderella (Зо́лушка, "Zolushka") is a 1947 film directed by Nadezhda Kosheverova and Mikhail Shapiro, produced in Josef Stalin's Soviet Union.

It is on the whole a highly faithful adaptation of the "Cinderella" fairy tale as it originally appeared in the works of Charles Perrault. Cinderella, or rather Zolushka in this version, is suffering under an evil stepmother and two bitchy stepsisters who make her dress in rags and do scullery work. Her father, still alive in this version, is a spineless weakling who allows his wife to dominate him and persecute his daughter.

This state of affairs is upended when the king proclaims a dress ball. Cinderella's father, the royal forester, gets to go, as do the stepmother and her daughters Anna and Marianna. Cinderella of course does not get to go, her stepmother cruelly loading her up with chores to make sure she doesn't have time even to look at the ball from afar. Cue the fairy godmother, who works some magic with mice and pumpkins...


  • The Apprentice: In this version the Fairy Godmother is followed around by an apprentice, a boy who is training to become a wizard. The boy actually does a lot of the magic, like when he whisks the prince back to the castle at the end.
  • The Cake Is a Lie: As in the original fairy tale and many adaptations, the stepmother says that sure Zolushka can go to the ball, but only if she accomplishes an enormous amount of chores first, like sorting a whole summer's worth of beans.
  • Catchphrase: The apprentice is constantly repeating "I'm not a wizard, I am still learning".
  • Dance of Romance: Where Zolushka first falls in love with the prince.
  • Dances and Balls: Lots of Costume Porn!
  • Diabolus ex Machina: Zolushka checks the clock and sees that it's 10:45, so she has plenty of time to relax with the prince. Then the Apprentice tells her the king had ordered to set the clocks an hour back, because he wants the guests to stay longer. Zolushka has to beat a hasty retreat.
  • The End: Ends with the goofy king finally carrying through on his constant threats to abdicate. He gives the wig and crown to his page boy, then says that the Prince and Zolushka will have a baby girl and that said girl will eventually marry the page boy. He talks about how kind and generous the page boy/new king is, and about the page boy's tender feelings. Then he says "I love these wonderful feelings, which will never come to an—", and then he looks straight at the camera and says "—end." This is followed immediately by the closing "The End" title card (Russian конец, "konets").
  • Fairy Godmother: How did you guess? Oddly, Zolushka already knows the fairy godmother and has met her before; on a prior visit the fairy godmother came out from behind the fireplace. This of course makes one wonder why the F.G. hasn't helped Zolushka until now she implies that it's because of the stepmother's powerful "connections," which she claims are the only reason why she hasn't turned her into a frog.
  • The Film of the Book: While the father is still alive in the earliest versions of this tale (both Perrault and the Brothers Grimm), virtually all latter-day adaptations kill the father off to explain why he doesn't protect his daughter. This is a rare example of an adaptation that has the father still alive; he's just a wimp who lets his wife push him and his daughter around.
  • The Girl Who Fits This Slipper: Subverted. The prince's palace guard goes out, like in all versions of this story, looking for the match. But with Zolushka's help, Anna the older sister manages to cram her foot into it. Eventually Anna is exposed as an impostor when she stumbles at court and the shoe pops off. Zolushka never does put the shoe on. She eventually proves who she is by producing the matching shoe.
  • Glass Slipper: Zolushka loses hers.
  • Gorgeous Garment Generation: The Fairy Godmother zaps up an impressive gown.
  • Henpecked Husband: In this version the father is still alive, but is a weakling who lets his wife abuse Zolushka. A couple of times when he is insufficiently obedient, the stepmother threatens to kick him out of the house. He tells the king that his wife had a sister, and when the sister was eaten by a bear, the bear died of poisoning.
  • I Have This Friend: The prince has an Anguished Declaration of Love in which he tells Zolushka that he has this friend, who is also a prince, and who just happened to meet his dream girl at the same ball.
  • Karma Houdini: Most versions have at least the stepsisters suffer some punishment, but in this film neither the stepsisters nor the stepmother suffer anything at all other than embarrassment when Anna is exposed as a faker. They just resolve to leave the country and storm away.
  • Ladyella: Averted in the original Russian title.
  • Leave the Two Lovebirds Alone: The king announces the wedding, but as the Prince and Zolushka hold hands and gaze at each other, the Prince notes that Zolushka hasn't said she loves him. The king then ushers everyone out of the room, saying that he hates it when gawkers intrude on romantic resolutions.
  • The Musical: A few songs, both from Zolushka and from the prince.
  • Parental Neglect: The cowardly father fails to protect Zolushka.
  • Princess for a Day: Princess for a few hours, just for a ball.
  • Rapid Aging: Inverted. The Godmother arrives as an older woman, but changes into a younger one upon seeing Cinderella. As she explains, true fairies grow older or younger based on the mood as easily as humans pale and blush, and the joy of seeing her goddaughter makes her younger.
  • Robe and Wizard Hat: The oldest wizard in the king's court is dressed exactly this way, a blue robe and pointy hat with lots of yellow stars and moons.
  • Running Gag: Whenever the king faces some minor annoyance, he flings down his crown and his wig and throws a fit, yelling that he's going to abdicate and go off to live in a monastery. This happens several times.
  • Sibling Triangle: The older stepsister, Anna, tries hard to land the prince but fails. The younger one, Marianna, also sets her sights on him, but their mother prefers to pitch Anna to the prince and hopes that once they're married, the widowed King will chose Marianna as his second wife.
  • Stop Motion: Russians invented stop-motion animation. Used in this film for the sequence in which the Fairy Godmother makes a coach, coachman, and horses out of, respectively, a pumpkin, a rat, and four mice.
  • Textile Work Is Feminine: Among Zolushka's duties is sewing and mending the family dresses.
  • Tutti Frutti Hat: The stepmother and the stepsisters all wear ornate hats with piles of fruit, Carmen Miranda style.
  • Unkempt Beauty: Like with many Cinderella adaptations, Zolushka still looks lovely as a ragged servant girl, but with a prominent smudge of dirt on her cheek.
  • When the Clock Strikes Twelve: When the Fairy Godmother's spell elapses and Zolushka changes back into a servant girl.
  • Wicked Stepmother: Who makes her stepdaughter into a slave. Played by a Large Ham actress who was obviously enjoying herself.
  • The Wonderland: The old wizard has the ability to send people into a magic fairy land for the oddly precise time of nine minutes and ten seconds. These fairylands are tailored to the individual and are basically what each individual's favorite place would be. The prince and Zolushka get sent to a grassy field together.