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"And while Cinderella and her Prince did live happily ever after, the point, gentlemen, is that they lived."
Grande Dame
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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 (Jeanne Moreau) 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 (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 (especially as he calls for her over his wife in his final moments), and the estate's three devoted servants - the housemaids, Paulette and Louise, and the retainer, Louise's husband Maurice.

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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 (Dougray Scott), 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.

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This film provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Rodmilla de Ghent, who is massively emotionally abusive to her stepdaughter Danielle, and not much kinder to her unfavorite daughter Jacqueline.
  • 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.
  • Action Girl: Danielle swims, climbs trees and punches people in the face. Later frees herself from slavery by threatening her captor with a sword.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: The manner Danielle rescues Henry from the bandits is certainly amusing, but it was inspired by a real-life moment from the 12th-Century where a German king besieged the castle of his political rival, but a peaceful surrender was agreed with the women being allowed to leave with whatever they could carry so they lifted their husbands onto their shoulders and headed out of town. The king found this pretty funny and accepted the women's clever trick.
  • Altar Diplomacy:
    • Prince Henry of France is supposed to marry Princess Gabriella of Spain, and it's implied that it'll be a diplomatic nightmare for his father King Francis if Henry sidesteps the match. Henry, who especially at the beginning of the movie is kind of a brat, doesn't care.
    • There's also an allusion to the fact that Henry's parents married for diplomatic reasons as well.
      Queen Marie: Sweetheart... you were born to privilege, and with that comes specific obligations.
      Henry: Forgive me, Mother, but marriage to a complete stranger never made anyone in this room very happy.
      Queen Marie: [glances awkwardly at King Francis]
  • All There in the Manual: The novelization of the movie specifies the setting as 1512.
  • 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.
  • Ambiguous Situation: It's not fully clear if Rodmilla got her title of Baroness from a previous marriage or birth. She mentions that her mother was very hard on her, but she was very grateful to her since it resulted in her becoming a baroness (presumably by marriage), yet she also often boasts of her "noble blood." However, a baron/ness is the very lowest form of nobility (little more than glorified land owners).
  • Archetypal Character: Danielle = Cinderella, obviously.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Danielle cuts through Prince Henry's snobbish elitism with one well-phased question during their first meeting with her pretending to be a courtier, which kick-starts his Character Development.
    "Nicole": Excuse me, sire, but there is nothing natural about [snubbing peasants]. A country's character is defined by its "everyday rustics" as you call them. They are the legs you stand on, and that position demands respect, not...
    Henry: (somewhat amused) Am I to understand that you find me arrogant?
    "Nicole": Well, you gave one man back his life, but did you even glance at the others?
    • Later, Danielle coldly snarks to Rodmilla, "What bothers you more, "stepmother": that I am common or that I am competition?" Rodmilla is too proud to directly answer that question, but it does indicate that Danielle is more aware of Rodmilla's disdain than her stepmother gives her credit for being.
  • 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 – Art: Leonardo da Vinci is shown pulling The Mona Lisa out of a tube and unrolling it so that onlookers can admire it. The Mona Lisa was painted on wood panel.
  • 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 it." Yes, the Spanish were responsible for bringing chocolate abroad during their missions, and yes, chocolate was popular in France, causing the rise of 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 the 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. While the novelization by Wendy Loggia specifies the setting as 1512, 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 Francis I, was born. His mother's name was Claude, not Marie, and he was married to Catherine de Medici.
    • Danielle tells Gustave that Rodmilla acts like she has "money to burn". Not only is it an inappropriately modern expression that seems to go only as far back as the 20th century, but it is inaccurate, as paper money would not be invented until approximately 250 years later or so. Ironically, the film accurately shows the correct currency of coins made from steels and precious stones, so Danielle's line should have been "money to melt".
    • Likewise, Paulette tells Danielle at one point that the only throne she wants Marguerite sitting on "is the one I have to clean every day." While modern toilets are often jokingly referred to as "thrones" for their throne-like shape, at the time people only went in small, round chamber pots... one of which Paulette is shown cleaning later in the movie.
    • The Queen comments that "Divorce is only something they do in England", which presumably is a reference to Henry VIII, who divorced Catherine of Aragon... in 1533, which is long after the events in the film.
    • The movie doesn't seem to have a clear (or consistent) understanding on how French nobility worked:
      • Barons were very low-ranking nobles, essentially land-owners, to the point of people literally being able to buy the title. Rodmilla looking down on her servants is one thing, but regularly having an audience with the Queen is pushing it. Though it could be a case of Small Name, Big Ego since for all her posturing, she has to spend years scheming and bribing footmen just to get the royal family's attention, and most of the rest of court can barely stand her.
      • Also, Rodmilla is repeatedly called "Baroness Rodmilla de Ghent." She would have had to give up that title upon marriage to her second husband. But this also begs another question: who's running the barony of Ghent, if she and both of her children are in France? Does she also have a son who never gets mentioned?
      • It's possible that Rodmilla could bear the title in her own right; in France, the family title is seen as belonging to the whole family, so all the (patrilineal) relatives of a baron could also use the title. It's also possible that Rodmilla is simply continuing to use the title even after her second marriage and that her first husband was just another relative of the family.
    • There was never a princess Gabriella of Spain, and her parents in the film don't match any Spanish monarchs of the 1510s (both Ferdinand II of Aragon and his daughter Joan the Mad were widowed in the previous decade, and Joan's son Charles V was single until 1526 when he would have been addressed by his higher title of Holy Roman Emperor).
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: King Francis to his son Henry. They spend the whole movie sniping at each other and pushing back at what the other wants; but just before the ball, the King makes an effort to be patient and softly explain why he wanted those things for Henry, compliments the progress his son has made being more selfless, and offers to call off his ultimatum altogether, though Henry declines that last one as he's heartbroken anyway.
  • Backstabbing the Alpha Bitch
    Baroness Rodmilla de Ghent: Jacqueline, darling, I'd hate to think that you had anything to do with this.
    Jacqueline: [sarcastically] Of course not, Mother. I'm only here for the food.
  • Bald of Evil: Pierre Le Pieu.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Jacqueline, due to having treated Danielle kindly for as long as she's known her, is spared the servitude that the Baroness and Marguerite are subjected to, and instead granted a place in her and Henry's court.
  • Bedsheet Ladder: Henry uses one to make his getaway when he's rebelling against the arranged marriage; judging by his mother's comment, this isn't the first time he's done this.
  • Beta Couple: 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 this when Marguerite throws her father's book - the only memento she has left of him - into the fireplace. She lets out a few more later on when she's dragged off to become a slave to Pierre Le Pieu.
  • Bilingual Bonus:
    • Princess Gabriella, Prince Henry's Spanish betrothed, babbles at him in her native language 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: Marguerite's first spoken line as an adult. Even Baroness Rodmilla tells her to dial it down.
  • Blatant Lies: The prince mentions his encounter with Danielle to Rodmilla when returning the horse, leading to this gem:
    Rodmilla: She is mute, my lord.
    Henry: Really? She spoke quite forcefully.
    Rodmilla: *Hand Wave* Well, it comes and goes.
  • 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 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 tradition!" Sure enough, at the gate, Danielle waves to them from the carriage.
  • The Chain of Harm: Auguste merely looking at his new wife Rodmilla and then turning to say "I love you" to his daughter with his dying breath was pretty cold. It's hard to blame Rodmilla for feeling hurt by that. However, Rodmilla then spends the next ten years making Danielle's life as miserable as she possibly can in retaliation, which is not all right.
  • 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: Downplayed with Gustave, who admires Danielle in her noblewoman's dress but encourages her to go after the prince.
    "No one will be looking at your feet."
  • Cinderella Plot: Danielle de Barbarac is orphaned within mere days of her widowed father remarrying. She's left to the care of her mentally abusive stepmother, though at least she has the family servants who still love her, and one of her stepsisters is a kind and sympathetic person. Instead of a fairy godmother, this iteration sees her assisted by Leonardo da Vinci.
  • Clothes Make the Legend: Danielle's mother's shoes, which give rise to the legend of the fabled "glass slipper." They're not glass, but they are sparkly.
  • 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.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Most characters have one color scheme that they wear throughout the film, so you can easily spot them.
    • Danielle mostly wears blue and white (when she's not pretending to be a courtier, though even then she often leans toward silver-blues and -greens).
    • Rodmilla and Pierre le Pieu wear mostly black.
    • Marguerite mostly wears bold orange dresses.
    • Jacqueline wears dark blues and greens.
    • The king and queen often wear golds and oranges. Once Danielle becomes their daughter-in-law, we see her in a similar color scheme to indicate that she's part of their family.
    • Truth in Television as most real-world Medieval and Renaissance Europeans only had a handful of outfits they wore (frequently washing their undergarments so their outer fabrics wouldn't fade in the wash), and they tended to choose colors that complemented their own features and/or social standing, rather than whatever color was in style as we do today.
  • Color-Coded Patrician: Truth in Television, Invoked, and Enforced.
    • The king and queen are often shown in Gold-Colored Superiority.
    • Prince Henry is seldom seen without his Purple Is Powerful cape.
    • Various courtiers (including Rodmilla and her daughters) often wear bold colors and patterns in expensive fabrics to show off their status.
    • Most servants (such as Danielle) are shown in crude, faded blues, browns, beige, and whites. The gypsies also mostly wear brown, tattered clothes.
    • When Danielle decides to pretend to be a courtier, Gustave mentions the (real-life historical) penalty for servants dressing above their station.
  • 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.
    • Also doubles as an epic Oh, Crap! moment for Rodmilla and Marguerite at Danielle's words.
    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 for the rest of your life.
    Baroness Rodmilla de Ghent: ...And how long might that be?
  • Crush the Keepsake: Marguerite burns Danielle’s copy of Utopia.
  • Damsel out of Distress: By the time that Henry shows up to rescue Danielle from Le Pieu, she has already freed herself.
  • Dark Is Evil: Rodmilla de Ghent and Pierre le Pieu, who both dress primarily in black with hearts to match. Subverted with Jacqueline, who shares her mother's black hair and tendency to dress in dark colors, but is one of the shyest and sweetest characters in the movie.
  • 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.
  • Death by Childbirth: Possibly what happened to Danielle's mother. It's not stated, but it's heavily implied that Danielle doesn't remember her at all, since she at one point tells her stepmother that "You are the only mother I have ever known." If she didn't die giving birth to Danielle, she died before the girl was very old.
  • 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.
  • Dramatic Irony: When young Danielle first learns about her new stepfamily, she is delighted at the idea of having a new mother and two new sisters. Little does she know what's in store for her for the next ten years.
  • Dying Declaration of Love: Auguste to his daughter, Danielle. Rodmilla didn't take very kindly to this.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: It isn't easy for Danielle or Henry, but they ultimately find happiness in their marriage.
  • Easily Forgiven: Played with. It's not to say that Danielle condones any of Rodmilla's past deeds or abuse. But when all is said and done, Danielle makes it clear she's exercising the concept the forgiveness where she won't give a thought to Rodmilla ever again, but only after she's sure she can't ever hurt her or anyone else ever again.
  • 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.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Most characters refer to Rodmilla as "The Baroness," or "Baroness" when directly addressing her.
  • Exact Words: When Danielle picks Henry up after being told she can leave with "anything she can carry".
    • Also, Jacqueline tells her mother and Marguerite that the prince told her he was a fool for wanting to marry a foreigner over "your sister." They assume she means Marguerite; she actually means Danielle. (Not quite a straight example, as those weren't his real words to her, but it was some cleverly worded improvisation on her part.)
  • 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, by marriage to her cousin, Queen Consort of France.note 
  • Foreshadowing:
    • When Rodmilla first meets Danielle, she shows mild jealousy of the affection Auguste shows her, distaste over her dirty appearance, and remarks that her father "speaks of nothing else" (rather than "no one else.") This foreshadows her lifelong jealousy and distaste for Danielle.
    • In the introduction, right after her father leaves, Rodmilla and her daughters go inside. Danielle exercises her father's will that she shows them the ropes and tells them they have to wave good-bye to her father as part of the de Barbarac tradition. But Rodmilla just ignores it and walks back inside without batting an eye. If the time skip is any indication, this won't be the last time Rodmilla looks down on Danielle, or neglects her duties as mistress of the manor.
  • Framing Device: The movie is about one of Cinderella's descendants telling The Brothers Grimm about her real life.
  • Freudian Excuse: Rodmilla laments that her own mother was so hard on her and feels like the position of Baroness is a sign of her hard work paying off. In addition, it's implied that Rodmilla was saddened that she barely knew her second husband, and wished that he did love her.
  • Funny Background Event: The first moment we see Pierre Le Pieu, a donkey can be heard braying in the background.
  • Gaslighting: Danielle and the other de Barbarac servants do this a few times to Prince Henry to hide Danielle's status as a servant. "Nicole de Lancret" lets Henry think he's crazy or imagining things by denying they've met before, so he won't realize she was the servant who beaned him with an apple earlier that morning. Later, when Henry stumbles across Danielle tending livestock at the market, she throws a chicken in his face and flees while Paulette and Louis make a big commotion, and they pretend they were the only servants he saw. These are usually Played for Laughs.
    Rodmilla: What are you two doing?! Trying to scare the prince to death?!
    Paulette: We were startled, that's all.
    Henry: (Slowly) ... Were there just the two of you?
    Louis: And the chicken, Your Highness.
    • This is Played for Drama when Henry learns Danielle's true identity at the ball, and slowly realizes all the gaslighting she's put him through, and is seriously angry to learn how thoroughly he was deceived.
    Henry: The apple... that was you?
  • Gorgeous Period Dress: Several are worn by Danielle to look the part of a courtier. Her family wears them too.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Rodmilla will never forgive Danielle for the fact that her husband loved his daughter more than her, nor for the fact that he turned away from Rodmilla to tell Danielle he loved her with his dying breath. She also becomes jealous of Danielle's success wooing the prince over her own daughter.
    Danielle: What bothers you more, stepmother? That I am common, or competition?
  • 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: The title makes it a Foregone Conclusion.
  • Happily Married:
    • 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.
    • Maurice and Louise, definitely. Just look at how overjoyed Louise is when Danielle brings Maurice back to her.
  • Hate Sink: Marguerite has all of of her mother’s worst traits with none of the former’s charming qualities.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Jacqueline wasn't a terrible person to begin with - just withdrawn and severely cowed - but she becomes much more sympathetic to her stepsister after the Sadistic Choice incident Marguerite puts Danielle through.
  • Heel Realization: Marguerite possibly appears to have had one once she's been forced to become a laundry maid, but it's also a bit unclear because even though she calls herself and Rodmilla 'nobodies', the context is trying to get Rodmilla to do a certain task instead of her.
  • Historical Domain Character: If this movie is to be believed, Cinderella's fairy godmother was really Leonardo da Vinci. He befriends both Prince Henry and Danielle, gives them a lot of assistance and life lessons, and helps start their relationship.
  • Historical Fiction: The Cinderella story minus the magical elements and thus also count as Demythification.
  • Hollywood Heart Attack: The death of Danielle's father. He feels shooting pain in his left arm, then keels over and dies of a sudden heart attack thirty seconds later.
  • Humiliation Conga: Happens to Rodmilla and Marguerite in the end; they're sentenced to 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 Rodmilla 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.
  • Inelegant Blubbering: Gabriella, the Spanish Princess, because she's being forced to marry someone other than the Spanish courtier she's in love with. Can you really blame the poor girl?
  • 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.
  • Ironic Echo: Delivered by Jacqueline - see Backstabbing the Alpha Bitch.
  • Jerkass: Rodmilla and Marguerite, with the latter being much less subtle about it than the former.
  • Kick the Dog:
    • Rodmilla kicks several dogs through out the movie.
      • The whole business of selling off household items on the sly and then punishing the servants for their "theft" by docking their wages...
      • Early in the film, Rodmilla advises Jacqueline (who is much softer-spoken than her sister) "not to speak unless (she) can improve the silence."
      • 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?"
      • Even after a satisfying sock to her right eye by Danielle, 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 that occurs off screen.
    • 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.
  • Laborious Laziness: Rodmilla de Ghent refuses to tend to the manor. She considers it beneath her as a Baroness. So she spends all her time trying to set Marguerite up with Prince Henry. She does this by constantly hawking anything that'll fetch a price to buy eye-catching jewelry and dresses, bribing footmen to spy on the prince for her, stalking the prince's whereabouts, and playing games and intrigues to get the royal family's attention. Imagine how much she could get done if she put a fraction of that effort into actually running the manor and bringing in an honest income.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Mundane Solution: Before leaving for the ball, Rodmilla locks Danielle in the pantry. The servants are frantically trying to free her, but they don't have the key. Leonardo da Vinci lets Danielle out by removing the pins from the hinges and opening the door from the other side.
  • 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 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: You like to call her 'Cinderella'.
    Marguerite: [realizes who this means and throws a massive tantrum]
  • Never My Fault: Rodmilla frequently blames her servants for her own poverty and debt, even though her own neglect of the manor (which has the best soil in the province) and tendency to sell off the servants she needs to work the land (which would bring income) are the cause of her misfortune.
    Danielle: Unbelievable. She ignores the manor, blames us for her debt, and still pretends to have money to burn.
  • Nice to the Waiter: Most nobles aren't, since they believe their station gives them the right to treat peasants as property. Danielle believes in this, though that's not surprising given her station. Since Prince Henry doesn't know this when they first officially meet, he's fascinated by the "walking contradiction" of a courtier preaching the importance being nice to the help. As she grows on him, he visibly makes an effort to be nicer to peasants and servants he encounters.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Danielle’s physical and verbal attacks on Marguerite have their disadvantages. First her book gets burned and Rodmilla locks Danielle in the cellar.
  • Not Helping Your Case: Danielle twice at the start of the film. Every time she tries to defend throwing apples at the prince, her choice of words just ends up Digging Yourself Deeper. First when she tells him, "I did not see you," causing Henry to wryly reply that her aim would suggest otherwise. Then, when she tries to defend herself to Rodmilla, she claims she "did not recognize him," making her look like a simple country girl.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: King Francis spends most of the movie berating his son and arguing with his wife over Henry's refusal to fall in line with his Arranged Marriage to Princess Gabriella of Spain. When the marriage finally takes place and the young couple mutually call it off, they discover that the Spanish royal family is just as screwed up as their own.
    Francis: And I thought I had problems.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Danielle is clearly having these thoughts when she first pretends to be a courtier (trying to free Maurice) and hears Prince Henry behind her.
    • "Did you, or did you not, lie to Her Majesty the Queen of France?" The King and Queen are not subtle in their implication that they might have the Baroness executed for her actions, and her panic is evident. Even worse, no one will speak for her. Then, when someone does, all the blood drains out of her face as she turns around to face the only person willing to save her - Princess Danielle.
  • Parental Abandonment: Danielle's father dies of a heart attack about fifteen minutes into the film.
  • Peer-Pressured Bully: Danielle is bullied by her mother and elder stepsister. Younger stepsister Jacqueline is not only reluctant to participate, but is clearly disgusted at her mother and sister's behavior, helping Danielle when she can. By the films denouement when Danielle and the prince are married, she is in a Pair the Spares relationship with the Prince's valet, and the lone member of her family not to be exiled for the mistreatment of Danielle.
  • Perverted Sniffing: Pierre le Pieu sniffs Danielle's hair this way after she is sold to him.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • After Danielle is whipped (offscreen) 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 "so masculine."
    • Another brutal subversion in the final act of the film; The morning after the masquerade, Pierre le Pieu arrives at Danielle's father's estate with all of the possessions Rodmilla had secretly been selling to him. While Danielle is aghast at her stepmother's actions, she forces herself to thank le Pieu for his kindness in returning them... only to be informed that he simply sold them back to Rodmilla in exchange for Danielle herself.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: Danielle and Gustave. They've been inseparable since childhood, but there's no sign of romantic feeling between them, and he encourages her relationship with the Prince. Danielle even counters Gustave's horror at her masquerading as a noblewoman to rescue Maurice by saying Gustave would do the same for her. They're either this trope or Like Brother and Sister.
  • 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. It's implied she's also jealous of the fact that Auguste's Dying Declaration of Love was meant for Danielle instead of her.
  • 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.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Henry's mother, Queen Marie. She is sympathetic to Henry's reluctance to go through with the marriage to the Spanish princess, and she appears to be highly uncomfortable with Danielle's public humiliation at the masque, despite Danielle's deception of Henry. She's also clearly an affectionate mother, and is visibly pleasant and respectful to everyone we see interact with her.
    • King Francis decides to give Henry the chance to find love before attempting to finalize the marriage arrangements with Spain again. It is implied he does this because he didn't realize before that point that his threat to "never give [Henry] the throne and live forever" would fall so flat, as Henry has no interest in being a part of political theatre and therefore doesn't consider the threat valid. In an attempt to placate Henry, King Francis tells Henry to find love by the time of Da Vinci's ball or he will confirm the engagement to Spain again. It's only five days until then, but Henry will take whatever he can get...
      • Later, King Francis reveals that his agreement to the engagement with Spain wasn't entirely for political gain - as a father, he felt that Henry was aimless, ignorant of his duties as a prince and Francis hoped that the wedding would help Henry realize his obligation to his throne. With Henry's sudden declaration regarding the university, Francis sees progress in his son, enough that he offers to rescind the marriage contract with Spain, even if Henry didn't have someone to marry (as was decided by Francis from the initial deal).
  • 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 - who is likewise richly attired and crowned.
  • Returning the Handkerchief: What the girls hope will happen in the tennis 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.
  • Roguish Romani: A quite stereotypical "Gypsy" band appears initially attempting to steal Danielle's dress and hold the prince hostage, but after she impresses them with her quick thinking, they give everything back and invite the couple to their revelries.
  • Royal Brat: Prince Henry is a male version, on which behavior "Nicole" frequently calls him out. After he gets taken down a peg with an AWESOME speech from Leonardo da Vinci (yes, that one), he gets better.
  • Sadist: Rodmilla and Marguerite
  • Sadistic Choice: Danielle is forced to choose between letting Marguerite wear her mother's 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 has a heartwarming scene where Prince Henry (while 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 also the bit just before that, where he tells her to call him Henry instead of "Your Highness" (which is how he demanded she address him when he discovered she was a commoner).
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Everybody notices when Danielle arrives at the ball. The moment is soon ruined, of course.
  • Shipper on Deck: Leonardo da Vinci for Henry and Danielle. He befriends both of them, helps Danielle get to the ball, and chews out Henry for rejecting her at said ball after he learns her true identity.
  • Shrinking Violet: Jacqueline is quiet and shy.
  • Significant Name Shift: Prince Henry calls Danielle by her name for the first time, instead of the alias she used for half the movie, after they have truly fallen in love.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Rodmilla de Ghent is very proud of the fact that she is a Baroness, and often boasts of her status to everyone, yet barons are the lowest possible title of nobility, little more than land-owners. Even more pronounced at the end, when she holds herself above Marguerite and the other castle servants just because she is "of noble blood." The head laundry servant isn't impressed. It's also weird because, since Margeurite is Rodmilla's own daughter, she is of noble blood too!
  • Smug Snake: Le Pieu is especially smug after Danielle is made his slave.
    • Marguerite is also often shown smirking smugly, even though it's all due to her mother's machinations. So it's very satisfying to see that smug grin wiped off her face at the end, when she realizes Danielle is a royal and now holds Marguerite's fate in her hands.
  • Society Is to Blame: What Danielle believes, as shown in the quote below while she is saving Maurice from being arrested over debts.
    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?
  • Spoiled Brat: Marguerite, big time. She's even called such by Danielle when she refuses to give away the location of her mother’s gown.
    Danielle: I would rather die a thousand deaths than see MY MOTHER'S DRESS ON THAT SPOILED, SELFISH COW!!!
  • 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 Ambiguously Gay Leonardo da Vinci is Danielle's Fairy Godmother.
  • Talk to the Fist: While trying on Mrs. du Barbarac’s dress, Marguerite harshly reminds Danielle that she dead when she confronts them. Danielle gets really pissed and decks Marguerite.
  • 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. It's especially satisfying because it has already been established that Laurent is a Nice Guy and Jacqueline is a Nice Girl.
  • 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.
  • Tomboy: Danielle
  • Troubled Abuser: Rodmilla is far from being the model stepmother to Danielle, but given whatever issues she had with her own mother and her second husband's dying words being directed at Danielle, her actions are understandable but inexcusable.
  • 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).
  • Twice-Told Tale: Cinderella, obviously.
  • The Un-Favourite: Of Rodmilla's two daughters, Jacqueline is obviously not as dear to her mother as Marguerite is. And then there's Danielle, whom the Baroness quite clearly doesn't care about in any kind of motherly way at all.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Part of the reason why Danielle puts up with Rodmilla as long as she does is the mere hope of receiving even a speck of maternal affection from her. Shown best when Danielle lights up a bit when Rodmilla has a near Pet the Dog moment with her. As she points out later, "You are the only mother I have ever known."
  • 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 in 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.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Zigzagged. There are plenty of moments, but it's not with the hero, it's with Marguerite and Rodmilla. Every time, they prove again and again that, in the dark, they'll take every advantage to get ahead in life. For example, with the help of a bribed footman, they trick the Queen into thinking she lost a jewel she "didn't remember putting on that morning".
    • An example that crosses the Moral Event Horizon: To get her mother's glass slippers, Marguerite threatens Danielle that she'll burn her book if she doesn't hand them over. Even though she gives up the slippers, Marguerite still burns the book, and Rodmilla holds back Danielle from salvaging it.
  • White Sheep: Jacqueline is the only nice member of her birth family. One has to wonder how she turned out as well as she did, all things considered.
  • 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.
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