Ever After

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This article is about the 1998 film. For other uses, see Ever After (disambiguation).
Ever After: A Cinderella Story
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Andy Tennant
Produced by
Screenplay by
Based on Cinderella 
by Charles Perrault
Music by George Fenton
Cinematography Andrew Dunn
Edited by Roger Bondelli
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • July 29, 1998 (1998-07-29)
Running time
121 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $26 million[2]
Box office $98 million[2]

Ever After (known in promotional material as Ever After: A Cinderella Story) is a 1998 American romantic comedy-drama film inspired by the fairy tale Cinderella, directed by Andy Tennant and starring Drew Barrymore, Anjelica Huston, and Dougray Scott. The screenplay is written by Tennant, Susannah Grant, and Rick Parks. The original music score is composed by George Fenton. The film's closing theme song "Put Your Arms Around Me" is performed by the rock band Texas.

The usual pantomime and comic/supernatural elements are removed and the story is instead treated as historical fiction, set in Renaissance-era France. It is often seen as a modern, post-feminism interpretation of the Cinderella myth.[3]


In the 19th century, a Grande Dame (Jeanne Moreau) summons The Brothers Grimm to her palace, where the brothers discuss their interpretation of the Cinderella story and notice a painting displayed in the room. The Grande Dame shows the brothers a glass slipper and tells them the story of Danielle de Barbarac, the true story of Cinderella. In 16th-century France, widower Auguste de Barbarac (Jeroen Krabbé), father of eight-year-old Danielle, marries Rodmilla de Ghent (Anjelica Huston), a wealthy baroness with two young daughters, Marguerite and Jacqueline, but he dies of a heart attack shortly afterwards. Before dying, Auguste's last words are directed to Danielle, which causes the Baroness to envy Danielle and treat her miserably for the next ten years. While Marguerite (Megan Dodds) is hostile and cruel to Danielle, Jacqueline (Melanie Lynskey) is kinder and more respectful to her, though she often stays out of the crossfires to keep the peace.

By the time Danielle (Drew Barrymore) is eighteen, the estate has fallen into decline, as the Baroness has no interest in farming and wishes to get back to court as soon as possible. Danielle has been reduced to a servant in her own home, waiting on her stepmother and stepsisters, and clinging to her father's last gift, a copy of Thomas More's Utopia. While collecting apples, Danielle sees a man stealing her father's horse and unseats him with an apple. When she recognizes he is Prince Henry (Dougray Scott), she abases herself. He gives her a bag of gold in exchange for her silence. She decides to use the money to rescue their servant, Maurice (Walter Sparrow), whom the Baroness has sold to pay her debts. Henry's escape from the duties of court is foiled when he encounters a band of gypsies robbing an old man. He learns that the old man is Leonardo da Vinci (Patrick Godfrey), who has been summoned to court. Henry chases a thief and returns the Mona Lisa to da Vinci, then returns with him. Meanwhile, Danielle dresses as a noblewoman and leaves to buy back Maurice, but the guards refuse, saying he is being deported to the Americas. She argues for his release and, when Henry overhears, he orders Maurice's release.

Intrigued by Danielle's mysterious identity, and amazed by her eloquence and passionate pleas, he begs for her name. Danielle gives Henry the name of her mother, "Comtesse Nicole de Lancret", who died giving birth to Danielle. King Francis (Timothy West) and Queen Marie (Judy Parfitt) tell Henry that he must choose a bride before the upcoming masquerade ball, or he will have to wed the Spanish princess Gabriella. All the noble families receive an invitation and Danielle initially believes she is included. When collecting truffles, she meets Henry by the river in the company of da Vinci. Henry and Danielle engage in a lively debate before Danielle runs off after she notices Jacqueline searching for her. Henry invites her to visit the library of a nearby monastery. On the way home, they are ambushed by the gypsies, who are amused by Danielle's outrage and agree to release her with whatever she can carry. When she picks up Henry and begins to walk away, the gypsies offer them a horse. Henry and Danielle spend the night in the gypsy camp, sharing their first kiss and arranging to meet again.

The next morning, Danielle catches the Baroness and Marguerite stealing her mother's dress and slippers for Marguerite to wear to the ball. After Marguerite insults Danielle about her mother's death, she punches Marguerite in the face and chases her around the manor until Marguerite threatens to throw Utopia into the fireplace. Danielle returns her mother's slippers to the Baroness in exchange for the book but Marguerite burns it in the fire anyway in an act of spite. After Danielle is punished by whipping, Jacqueline tends to her wounds and condemns Marguerite for insulting Danielle's deceased mother. When Danielle meets Henry later, she wishes to tell him the truth, but is afraid he will reject her after he confesses his love. During a lunch with the Queen, the Baroness discovers that Danielle is the Countess Henry has been spending time with. In an effort to keep Henry and Danielle apart, the Baroness tells the Queen that Danielle is to be married to another man. The Baroness confronts Danielle and accuses her of stealing the dress and slippers as they have disappeared. When Danielle insults Marguerite, the Baroness locks her in the pantry.

Danielle's childhood friend Gustave (Lee Ingleby) goes to da Vinci who helps free her, then makes her a pair of wings for the ball with her mother's dress and slippers. Danielle arrives at the ball, but moments before she can tell Henry the truth, the Baroness exposes her identity in front of him. Shocked and enraged over Danielle's deception, Henry refuses any explanation from her. Heartbroken, Danielle flees the castle, losing one of her slippers. Leonardo finds it, and reprimands Henry for his attitude to no avail, leaving him with the slipper. The wedding of Henry and Gabriella begins, but seeing how unhappy she is, Henry calls the wedding off, letting her return to the man she's in love with. Henry runs out to look for Danielle, only to find out from Jacqueline that the Baroness has sold her to vile landowner Pierre le Pieu (Richard O'Brien). When Pierre makes sexual advances towards Danielle, she cuts Pierre's face with a sword and threatens to dismember him, but Pierre surrenders and gives Danielle the key to the shackles that he forced her to wear.

Henry arrives just as Danielle leaves Pierre's mansion. Henry apologizes for his ignorance and proposes to Danielle by putting the glass slipper on her foot. Danielle cries into Henry's arms and they kiss. The Baroness and her daughters are summoned to the court, assuming that Henry plans to propose to Marguerite. The Baroness is publicly accused of lying to the Queen, stripped of her title and she and Marguerite are threatened to be exiled to the Americas if no one will speak on their behalf. At the last minute, Danielle speaks for them. Henry introduces Danielle as his wife and Danielle asks the King and Queen to show her stepmother and sister the same courtesy they had shown her. The Baroness and Marguerite are sent to work as laundry maids for the rest of their lives, while Jacqueline is spared punishment due to her kindness and becomes Danielle's lady-in-waiting. The Grande Dame tells The Brothers Grimm that Danielle was her ancestor, and that Danielle and Henry did live happily ever after, but the point is that they lived.

Historical Context[edit]

While the actual story is fictional, it involves several historical figures, places and events. It's set in the 16th Century- and features either the presence or mentions of Francis I, his queen, Prince Henry, Leonardo da Vinci, the explorer Cartier, the Grimm brothers, Perrault- the French colonies in the New World, the monastery/ library, the university, the 'ruins' at Amboise and mentions the French Revolution.

Historical Notes on the French Royal Family at this time[edit]

  • Francis (Francois I), was an actual French king around this time- previously the Duke of Valois (he was also the great-great-grandson of Charles V). He became king and founder of the Valois Dynasty, after marrying the daughter of Louis XII.
  • His queen in the movie is given the stock French name of 'Marie'- however, Francis was actually married twice; to Claude, Duchess of Brittany (daughter of the previous king, and his second cousin) and later to Eleanor of Austria- Claude and Francis had seven children (three sons and four daughters), only two of whom lived past the age of thirty; Henry and Margaret- Claude would die, aged only twenty-four.
  • The 'Queen Marie' of the movie seems to be more inspired by Francis' second wife and Henry's stepmother, Eleanor of Austria. She and Francis had no children.
  • When she warns Henry to be wise, in his choice of wife, saying, 'Divorce is only something they do in England' - there are actually several interesting notes to this exchange; firstly, it's referencing the famous event of Henry VIII's (one of Francis' great rivals) divorce of his first wife, in order to marry Anne Boleyn. The historical Henry's mother had Anne as a lady of her court, while she was in France (it's assumed she likely served as Queen Claude's translator when there were English visitors, during her tenure). Secondly, Eleanor was niece to Henry's first queen, Catherine of Aragon (her mother was Joanna of Castile)- when she was young, there was also a possibility she'd marry the young Henry. However, when the old king (Henry VII) died, Henry elected to marry Catherine. She was Queen of Portugal for about four years, before her husband, Manuel I died (after bearing him two children, including a daughter who would later be known as one of the richest princesses in Europe)- she married Francis as part of a peace treaty in 1526- she would be Queen of France til 1547.
  • Like Claude before her, Francis held little interest in his wife, preferring his many lovers- but while she held no real political power, she had an official and diplomatic role as Queen- and was a kind stepmother to Francis' children, adding Madeline and Margaret into her own household. She was also admired for her charitable work.
  • Prince Henry is actually Henri II, who succeeded Francis as King of France- with his father having died on his twenty-eighth birthday. The historical Henri, in fact, married Catherine de Medici, rather than a Spanish princess - though Italian nobility were looked down by the royalty of Europe as 'noveau riches' and jumped-up merchants or bankers, Catherine was considered suitable in some quarters as a royal bride, both because she had French ancestry (her mother was Madeleine de La Tour d'Auvergne) and the Medici's were at one time very powerful (and she was an heiress). They married in 1533, when they were both fourteen. However, like his father, Henri's greatest passion was for his mistresses- and they were married ten years before they had a child (they would go onto have ten). Henri died in 1559 as a result of a jousting accident, that occurred while celebrating the marriage of one of his daughters- he was about forty when he died.
  • While 'Danielle de Barbarac' is fictional, she might well have been inspired by the historical figure of Diane de Poitiers; unlike Danielle, Diane had ancient noble blood and her husband, Louis de Brézé was descended of royalty (he was the grandson of Charles VII). She served at multiple royal courts; that of Anne de Beaujeu (eldest sister of King Charles VIII- who was regent during his minority) when still a girl, as well as later on those of Francis I- as lady to both of his queens Claude and Eleanor of Austria, and his mother, Louise of Savoy - and then she was the leading light at the court of her much younger lover, Henri II (there was about nineteen years between them- though she was much more youthful-looking than she appeared, apparently- maintaining her looks well into her fifties [unlike Catherine]).
  • Despite not being his wife, she was universally regarded as the most powerful woman in France at the time, perhaps ever (some called her the 'uncrowned Queen' [he even trusted her to write royal correspondence]) - she exerted an enormous amount of influence on Henri; she and her daughters by her husband practically ran the royal household.
  • Matching with some aspects of the Danielle character, Diane was well-educated (in the Humanist manner), politically astute- she had a keen interest in financial matters and possessed legal shrewdness: on her husband's death in 1531, she was able to retain her late husband's emoluments as Governor and Grand-Sénéchal of Normandy, assuming herself the title of "Sénéchale de Normandie". She challenged in court the obligation to return Louis de Brézé's appanages to the royal domain. The King allowed her to enjoy the appanages' income, "until the status of those lands has been totally clarified." She probably still had them when Francis died- and most likely kept them under Henri II's reign; she was made a duchess twice over, in her own right by him- she was entrusted with the Crown Jewels of France, Henri had her home Château d'Anet remodeled for her, and gave her the Château de Chenonceau.
  • On his critical injury in 1559, Queen Catherine assumed control of the royal power in France (acting as Regent for their fourteen-year old son, Francis II), restricting access to him. Although the king was alleged to have called out repeatedly for Diane, she was never summoned nor admitted, and on his death, she was also not invited to the funeral. Catherine's fifteen-year old daughter-in-law, Mary, Queen of Scots as the new Queen of France, requested the return of the Crown Jewels. Immediately thereafter, Diane was moved to Château de Chaumont, from Chenonceau which Catherine claimed. She stayed there only a short time, and lived out her remaining years in her chateau in Anet, where she lived in comfortable obscurity.
  • At the age of 64, Diane suffered a fall during a ride. Never fully recovering, she died at the age of 66. In accordance with her wishes, her daughters completed the funeral chapel built near the castle. During the French Revolution, her tomb was opened and her remains thrown into a mass grave.
  • Though da Vinci never painted her, there are a few paintings of her celebrating both her beauty and playing on her name- in about 1549 sculptor Jean Goujon designed a statue especially for her in which she represented the goddess Diana. It was entitled "Diana with a Stag", and is still displayed in the Louvre.



Ever After was filmed in Super 35 mm film format; however, both the widescreen and pan-and-scan versions are included on the DVD. This is the only Super 35mm film directed by Tennant; his previous films were filmed with spherical lenses, while his subsequent films used anamorphic.

The castle shown in the film is the Château de Hautefort, in the Dordogne region of France. Other featured châteaux are de Fénelon, de Losse, de Lanquais, de Beynac as well as the city of Sarlat-la-Canéda.

The painting of Danielle seen in the film is based on Leonardo Da Vinci's Head of a Woman (La Scapigliata).

Critical reception[edit]

Ever After is regarded as one of the best interpretations of the Cinderella story. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes reports that 91% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 64 reviews, with an average score of 7.5/10.[4] The critical consensus states: "Ever After is a sweet, frothy twist on the ancient fable, led by a solid turn from star Barrymore."[4] Another review aggregator, Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 top reviews from mainstream critics, calculated a favorable score of 66 based on 22 reviews.[5]

Lisa Schwarzbaum from Entertainment Weekly gave the film a B-, saying: "Against many odds, Ever After comes up with a good one. This novel variation is still set in the once-upon-a-time 16th century, but it features an active, 1990s-style heroine -- she argues about economic theory and civil rights with her royal suitor -- rather than a passive, exploited hearth sweeper who warbles 'A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes'."[6] She also praised Anjelica Huston's performance as a cruel stepmother: "Huston does a lot of eye narrowing and eyebrow raising while toddling around in an extraordinary selection of extreme headgear, accompanied by her two less-than-self-actualized daughters -- the snooty, social-climbing, nasty Marguerite, and the dim, lumpy, secretly nice Jacqueline. "Nothing is final until you're dead", Mama instructs her girls at the dinner table, "and even then I'm sure God negotiates".[6]

Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert, while praising the film with three out of four stars, wrote that "The movie [...] is one of surprises, not least that the old tale still has life and passion in it. I went to the screening expecting some sort of soppy children's picture and found myself in a costume romance with some of the same energy and zest as The Mask of Zorro. And I was reminded again that Drew Barrymore can hold the screen and involve us in her characters. [...] Here, as the little cinder girl, she is able to at last put aside her bedraggled losers and flower as a fresh young beauty, and she brings poignancy and fire to the role."[7]

Home media[edit]

The film was released on DVD on March 3, 1999.[4] On January 4, 2011, the film was released on Blu-ray.[8]

Musical adaptation[edit]

A Broadway musical is currently in the works, with the book and lyrics by Marcy Heisler and music by Zina Goldrich.[9] The musical was originally scheduled to have its world premiere in April 2009 at the Curran Theatre in San Francisco, but the pre-Broadway run was postponed.[10] In May 2012, it was announced that the project is back on track with Kathleen Marshall signing on to direct a Broadway run.[11][12]

A workshop of the musical was held from April 25-May 15, 2013 with Sierra Boggess as Danielle, Jeremy Jordan as Prince Henry, and Ashley Spencer as Marguerite.[13] The musical is making its world premiere at the Paper Mill Playhouse from May 21-June 21, 2015.[14] Christine Ebersole plays the role of Baroness Rodmilla de Ghent.[15] Alongside Ebersole, Margo Seibert stars as Danielle, James Snyder as Henry, Charles Shaughnessy as King Francis, and Tony Sheldon as Da Vinci.[16]

See also[edit]

  • Ever After, the novelization by Wendy Loggia, based on the screenplay by Susannah Grant, Andy Tennant and Rick Parks


  1. ^ "EVER AFTER - A CINDERELLA STORY (PG)". British Board of Film Classification. September 8, 1998. Retrieved January 18, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b Box Office Mojo (1998-07-31). "Ever After: A Cinderella Story (1998)". Box Office Mojo. 
  3. ^ Haase (ed.), Donald (2004). Fairy Tales and Feminism: New Approaches. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0-8143-3030-4. 
  4. ^ a b c "Ever After: A Cinderella Story Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 1998-07-31.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  5. ^ "Ever After: A Cinderella Story reviews at Metacritic.com". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 1998-07-31.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  6. ^ a b Lisa Schwarzbaum. "Ever After (1998) on Entertainment Weekly". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 1998-07-31.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  7. ^ Ebert, Roger (1998-07-31). "Ever After BY ROGER EBERT". Chicago Sun-Times. Sun-Times Media Group. Retrieved 1998-07-31.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)3/4 stars
  8. ^ Ever After Blu-ray
  9. ^ Barrett, Annie (2012-05-15). "'Ever After' to hit Broadway in 2013". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2013-12-17. 
  10. ^ Hetrick, Adam (2009-01-28). "South Pacific Revival to Play San Francisco; Pre-Broadway Ever After Run Postponed". Playbill.com. Retrieved 2009-01-28. 
  11. ^ "Kathleen Marshall to Helm Broadway-Bound EVER AFTER Musical; Music by Heisler/Goldrich". Broadwayworld.com. Retrieved 2013-12-17. 
  12. ^ [1]
  13. ^ "Exclusive: Jeremy Jordan, Sierra Boggess, Jan Maxwell and Ashley Spencer Star in Developmental Lab of EVER AFTER". Broadwayworld.com. Retrieved April 29, 2013. 
  14. ^ "Paper Mill Season Will Feature Can-Can, Hunchback, Ever After, Vanya and Sonia and More". playbill.com. February 26, 2014. Retrieved February 26, 2014. 
  15. ^ "EXCLUSIVE: Tony Winner Christine Ebersole Will Star in New Musical Ever After". theatermania.com. February 13, 2015. Retrieved February 20, 2015. 
  16. ^ "Full Casting Announced for Paper Mill Playhouse's Ever After". TheaterMania. March 20, 2015. Retrieved March 26, 2015. 

External links[edit]