Cinderella, Ever After (And After, And After, And After)

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Cinderella is back again, Disney-style. We’ll look at the origins of the Cinderella story.

Lily James plays the title role in Disney's new live-action version of the fairy tale classic, "Cinderella." (Disney)
Lily James plays the title role in Disney's new live-action version of the fairy tale classic, "Cinderella." (Disney)

Cinderella is back, again, in the movie theaters. Disney’s latest version, number one at the box office this weekend. Huge all over.  A record breaker even in China. Director Kenneth Branagh is famous for his Shakespeare productions:  "Hamlet," "Othello," "Henry V."  He’s never had an opening like this.  And Cinderella is almost as old as Shakespeare.  Goes back to 17th century France.  And older still in other traditions all over the world.  The scrappy, rags-to-riches story of girl and prince, malice and triumph. This hour On Point:  we’re looking at centuries of Cinderella, and why it lasts.
-- Tom Ashbrook


Jack Zipes, retried professor of German at the University of Minnesota. Author of "When Dreams Came True," "Happily Ever After" and "The Great Fairy Tale Tradition."

Maria Tatar, chair of the folklore and mythology program at Harvard University, where she also teaches German studies, folklore and children's literature. Translator of "The Turnip Princess and Other Newly Discovered Fairy Tales." (@mariamtatar)

Peggy Orenstein, journalist and author of the book "Cinderella Ate My Daughter." (@peggyorenstein)

From Tom’s Reading List

NPR News: A Girl, A Shoe, A Prince: The Endlessly Evolving Cinderella — "As Disney releases another Cinderella adaptation — this one live-action, directed by Kenneth Branagh, starring Lily James as Cinderella and Cate Blanchett as her evil stepmother — we see again how perplexingly durable this story is, particularly for something so slight. The film that's coming out this weekend may be bent and polished, stripped of some of its themes and relieved of its bone-burying — and Cinderella may now be an established part of the Disney princess racket — but this is still recognizably a story of which 345 versions could already be found almost 125 years ago."

TIME: Why Disney’s New Cinderella Is the Anti-Frozen -- "The the theater in which I saw Cinderella was filled with dreamers much younger than I am. No doubt some of them, like I did when I was their age, identified powerfully with that abused young woman, just waiting for someone to see that she could be so much more than her circumstances. Too bad they’ve been let down yet again by movie execs who can’t seem to see past the end of their wands."

The AtlanticCinderella, and the Virtues of Being Old-Fashioned — "Crucial to the success of the film is the wistful, understated touch of director Branagh. His lengthy Shakespearian resume serves him well here, as does the fact that he was the man—perhaps the only man—capable of making the first Thor movie while keeping a straight face. In many hands, Cinderella’s throwback moral (repeated several times) to 'have courage and be kind' could have come off as hokey and insincere. In Branagh’s—well, it’s still hokey. But its sincerity never seems in doubt."

This program aired on March 16, 2015.


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