Past and Future: Reflecting on Aschenputtel . . . and Anticipating Cinderella 2015

Once upon a time, a long, long, long time ago, there lived a girl. First known as Rhodopis, later called Aschenputtel, and today known as Cinderella, this girl seems to have captured the attention of many throughout time. With the soon-to-be-released updated Disney version of Cinderella 2015 coming out March 13th, I thought I would share some of my favorite versions of the story as well as reflect back on where the original story came from in the first place . . .

Ever After Movie Poster

Ever After – My own personal favorite retelling, working the fantastical into the ordinary in such a seamless way. Plus, I’ve always loved the genius that is Leonardo da Vinci, so the fact that he is the “fairy godmother” in this version seems quite fitting. If you haven’t seen it, definitely go watch this wonderful movie!

Ella Enchanted – Perhaps because I’m a book-lover, I liked the book more than the movie. There’s just so much more that can be relayed in text than onscreen. Still, the movie was delightful as well, but if you haven’t read the book by Gail Carson Levine, run to your local library and check it out now!

Cinderella (Disney’s 1950 version) – The classic I grew up with, this one has to make the list!!! I mean I even named a puppy Gus Gus after one of the mice in this movie. It will always come to mind whenever I hear someone say “Cinderrr-relll-lla!” Another must-see if you haven’t!

Jac and Gus the mice in a teacup from the classic movie

An adaptation I haven’t seen—the Cinderella (1965 TV Special) recommended by a friend—is a musical retelling by Rodgers & Hammerstein. It has Lesley Ann Warren and Ginger Rogers, and is now on my to-be-watched list . . .

Just by looking at these versions, we can see how the story of Cinderella is ever so slightly constantly changing just as the main themes stay consistent. And Cinderella has been evolving for a very long time. Here’s a portion of a past post—Reinventing the Classic Fairy Taledelving into the origins of the Cinderella story:

Cinderella and Prince Charming dancing at the ball

. . . The first recorded version of a Cinderella story is that of Rhodopis, a Greek slave living in Egypt, which is given to us by way of Strabo in the 1st Century BCE. In this version, Rhodopis’ Egyptian master is kind and gives her a pair of slippers; her fellow servants are the mean ones who pester Rhodopis. While washing her slippers, the falcon god Horus swoops down and steals one, then drops it in the Pharaoh’s lap. Seeing it as a sign, the Pharaoh searches for the owner, finds Rhodopis, who produces the matching slipper, and they are married.

But let’s move forward in time. Let’s go to 1857 and look at the Grimm brothers’ telling of Cinderella, or Aschenputtel in German. In this version, it is the stepsisters and stepmother that are the meanies. And Aschenputtel’s kind pigeon friends help her out with the gowns (yes, plural) and slippers she will need, for she goes to three balls. The prince puts pitch on the steps at the last ball, so one slipper sticks to it and is left behind. Here, the story takes a bit of a gruesome twist as the stepmother encourages the stepsisters to cut off parts of their feet in order to make the slipper fit. But the prince knows “the bride is not right” because “the shoe is too tight.” All the blood also reveals that he has the wrong girl. But of course, the shoe eventually fits Aschenputtel. This is not the ending, however; there is still more. When Aschenputtel and the prince are married, those helpful pigeons make a reappearance to peck out the eyes of the stepsisters, leaving them blind. A most happy ending for Aschenputtel, but not so much for the stepsisters.

Cinderella 2015 Movie Poster

. . . Flash forward not quite two centuries and Cinderella continues to capture our imagination. Grab a bag of popcorn, settle in for Cinderella 2015, and enjoy the movie!!

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