What is a song that's never sung?
What is a heart that's never thrilled to being young?
What is a dream that can't come true?
What is my life to me, without my love for you?
- Secret Kingdom, The Slipper and the Rose
|Prince Edward: Whatever happens afterwards, I will always remember this moment...|
Tonight I watched (for the twentieth time), my favourite of all fairytale movies (and very close to my favourite movie ever), The Slipper and the Rose.
The movie is a musical adaptation of the classic Cinderella story. But there is nothing whatever trite or cliche about this adaptation - nothing caricatured or Disneyfied. I first watched it when I was about five years old, and have watched it several times each year since. Above all movies, it shaped my entire childhood perception of the world, and its magic still affects me just as strongly today.
Since it is sadly unknown in much of the world, I will briefly give a sketch of the storyline:
|The moated manor where Cinderella lives, in the tiny kingdom of Euphrania|
|After the death of Cinderella's father, his will places her under the protection of her stepmother , with only the memory of love to sustain her.|
|The stepmother and stepsisters make "certain drastic economies in the household" ...|
|... which involve making Cinderella the maid-of-all-work.|
|Meanwhile the king and queen urge the prince that "it's your duty to the state not to stay a celibate" while he argues that marriage begins with love, not duty.|
|The prince's foolish cousin drops the "teensiest of social briquettes"., with hilarious consequences.|
|The Fairy Godmother in her Domythic cottage, writing all the fairytales...|
|She "tests" Cinderella before deciding she is worthy of help.|
|"I thought - a ball. A great ball! The greatest ball that has ever been known, sire! And to it we shall invite every eligible princess in Europe, and even beyond, your majesty."|
|Cinderella is set the task of making dresses for the ball, but fails miserably. Thankfully, someone steps in to help.|
|Cinderella" "Me, go to the ball?"|
Godmother: "Of course! Wait, that is what you were wishing wasn't it?
Cinderella: "Not wishing... Thinking what it must be like."
Godmother: "Same thing."
|Dancing mice. What's not to love?|
|The prismatically lovely carriage seems to be made of dreams and imaginings...|
|At the ball, the Prince "conceals his boredom from half a dozen twittering maidens of blue blood" (the princesses between whom he is meant to choose) while the local nobility attend to fill up space|
|A glittering carriage arrives late to the palace...|
|... and the "Princess Incognita" arrives.|
|Entering the ballroom...|
|... Cinderella and the Prince are drawn to each-other|
|It really is the most romantic and beautiful dance - ever.|
|Unfortunately the chimes of midnight necessitate Cinderella's flight...|
|... and his pursuit is in vain.|
|"Though this lovely night was only a fantasy/ And I know tonight is all there will ever be/ Dancing in his arms forever my heart will never be free... Dreaming of the night he danced with me."|
|"Could it be that she was only a fantasy? Could it be tonight is all there will ever be?"|
|Edward: It is unique, like its owner. Who ever fits this slipper, must fit the bill!|
King: It really is remarkably dainty... half the size of your mother's... take it away... very disturbing...
|Stepmother: "Now push hard."|
Palatine: "Oh I'm pushing, Mama!"
|After a fruitless search of "three months, six days, ten hours", Prince Edward and his companion-at-arms John are both tortured by the pangs of love . Edward is educated as to the restrictive nature of "position" and social conditioning.|
|Frustrated and half-wondering if Cinderella had been a phantom-like "Belle Dame Sans Merci", Edward decides to throw the glass slipper away.|
|But it is found again by Cinderella.|
|Joyfully she dances in the fields with the slipper...|
|... where she is seen.|
|A passionate reunion...|
|... but there is talk of war, and the prince must make a marriage of alliance with a powerful kingdom with an "army to fortify the throne" of the tiny and vulnerable Euphrania.|
|Cinderella makes a noble sacrifice, going into secret exile.|
|Edward prays on the eve of his wedding: "Forgive me dearest Cinderella. I have no heart for what I am about to do... I have loved but once. I have loved but you. And I have lost you - twice!"|
|In her place of exile, Cinderella "can't stop remembering" - until the Godmother shows up "to rise to the occasion and do something spectacular".|
|The marriage of alliance...|
|... but someone else has arrived.|
|Happy, but not yet the ending...|
... and that's only a taste of the gorgeousness in store. It can't do justice to the music, the vivacity, the Romance and the magic of this peerless fairytale movie.
Essentially, the first half of the story is the one we are familiar with - except that the characters are far more real and the Prince (Edward) has as great a role in the story as Cinderella. There are a host of wonderful supporting characters (the stepmother, the prince's companion-at-arms, the royal family and the fairy godmother to name a few), which give the film depth and allow it to explore themes of tradition, class warfare, independence, diplomatic relations and ethical dilemmas. When Cinderella is reunited with the prince at last, their happiness takes second place to the concerns of the kingdom, for a declaration of war requires the prince to make a marriage of alliance to a powerful princess... Of course it ends happily (and satisfactorily) thanks to the cleverness of the Fairy Godmother - but not before both Edward and Cinderella are tested.
The Slipper and the Rose is beautiful in every way - with incredible music, sumptuous costumes, an absolutely wonderful romance, humour and great characters. I can't praise it enough. For anyone who wants to watch it (which should be everyone after reading this!) - you can purchase it on Ebay or *watch here on Youtube*.
In fact, you have no excuse. Enter the fairytale. You will not be sorry. Go and watch it now.