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Mar 20th 2015

Why Cinderella is So Popular

"Cinderella", the classic tale of unjust oppression, could be written like this:

"The next morning, as soon as the shades of Night, pursued by the constables of the Sun, had fled the country, ..."

The metaphorical usage would have provided the story, which generations of readers believed was simple and feel good, an intriguing twist. There would be more to this make-believe tale, even revealing some information about its origin. But no one would want to. This what turned Cinderella into a universal figure.

Giambattista Basile was the first known author to pen the Cinderella story, whose style was heavily Baroque. "Pentamerone", published in 1634 and 1636, was a collection of fairy tales where many were rewritten by the Brothers Grimm. The Italian courtier didn't intend to write in a way that would have expressed irony on such myth-like stories. The metaphor was established from the beginning, which made it quite entertaining. But these tales went obscure. Charles Perrault included Cinderella's story in his “Mother Goose Tales” (1697), which favored the aristocratic class. It wasn't surprising after knowing the author's background.

But it was the Brothers Grimm, which defined Cinderella's story - and the other fairy tales. The sibling's penchant for sour mood and tragic happenings would fit into the original “Cinderella” story. Basile, Perrault, and the Grimms came from different backgrounds, which was the reason for the embellishments on the story (or the lack of). Another thing to consider was the political climate, which would be a factor.

Why was Cinderella so popular? Anyone could identified with her struggles. She was an underdog. Many believed that a good deed - and pure heart - wouldn't go unnoticed.

Who played Cinderella?

Many moviegoers haven't seen the silent version of the fairy tale, with Mary Pickford in the title role. Even Julie Andrews played this iconic role, but it was only for a made-for-television production. Those who loved her performance in “Mary Poppins” and “The Sound of Music” would be curious to see. The current generation of viewers have seen Hillary Duff and Selena Gomez taking on the titular role. The list of actors who wore the glass slippers was long, but only a few stood out.

Leslie Caron was adorable in “The Glass Slipper” (1955), where Helen Deutsch's screenplay variated from the Grimm Brothers story. It was a MGM musical, so this mustn't come as a shock. And credit would go to the studio, where the grand song-and-dance numbers complimented this fairy tale. Another thing to note that Caron, who played Ella, happened to be teased as Cinderella in a couple of scenes. The native of Boulogne-Billancourt seemed perfect for the role, which Perrault would approve (if he were around).

“Ever After: The Cinderella Story” (1998) had a feminist touch. Cinderella must adapt to the times in able to attract a lot of viewers. But this meant that her story was universal in one. Kenneth Branagh's “Cinderella” (2015), the latest adaptation of the fairy tale, would still charm audiences. This was Disney's second take, after an animated version was released in 1950. It showed that the magic was still there.

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