I was seven years old when I l first dreamed of being the one beauty who would win the heart of the handsome prince, just by walking in the room. I imagined that’s all it would take. He would see me with my eighteen-inch waist, full breast, and swan neck adorned in a gown of fabric that glittered like the stars, and instantly know that no one else in all the universe compared. I had no idea where I’d find the fairy godmother that would make me so beautiful. But if it happened for Cinderella, then it could happen for me, at least in my dreams.
Since the 1965 Rodgers and Hammerstein movie, I’ve been a sucker for this classic story. I’m embarrassed to admit how many times I’ve watched the 1998 remake starring Drew Barrymore as the strong-willed, sharp tongued, tomboyish Danielle de Barbarac, aka Cinderella. The writers masterfully blend the fairy tale into historic fiction and for short time; I think this could be real. I overlook the forced accents and low-budget props. I don’t miss the plump godmother and the singing birds or mice from the Disney version. I must admit I’m thrilled this Cinderella doesn’t have to sing like an angel but instead she quotes from Thomas Moore’s Utopia and the prince is hooked. Yes, I could be this Cinderella.
Ever After is more than a story of a young abused girl who gets her chance and wins the prince. The movie shows 16th century France and puts me into the lives of noblemen, peasants, gypsies, and even Leonardo de Vinci. He makes me laugh as the loveable and witty godfather who walks on water, builds flying machines, and will go down in history as the man who opened the door. I even learned he painted with his left-hand.
Woven throughout the story are intrigues, competition, conspiracies, and vengeance. My sense of righteousness is fulfilled when the wicked stepmother and step sister are punished with life-long servitude, when the squealing page gets his scull cracked open with a pot, and when the rotten teeth, well-endowed Pierre Le Pieu is nearly sliced from navel to neck by the sword wielding Danielle.
I want the bad guys to lose and the good guys to win. So in court when the King and Queen confront the Baroness and Marguerite in their lies and conniving ways, I expect justice. I’m not disappointed as they are instantly stripped of their title and ordered shipped to the Americas on the next available boat. It’s only fair.
But then Danielle’s voice comes from behind and silences the courtroom, “I’ll speak for her. After all, she is my stepmother.” She offers mercy, “Your Majesties, all I ask is that you show her the same courtesy she has bestowed upon me.”
Cinderella gave grace. Not only is she independent, strong, beautiful, plus she has a loving heart. This is a true heroine. I’m changing my dream template.
But did she really give grace? She gave an eye for an eye judgment. That seems fair, more than fair. They got what they deserved. But that’s not grace. Grace is receiving what we don’t deserve and not receiving what we do deserve. Allow me to rewrite that scene showing true grace.
“I will speak for her.” Cinderella appears in royal attire where just hours before she traded her rags for riches. She had been forgiven her lies and deceit to the Prince. He loved her for who she was. A slave girl was now a princess.
Cinderella continues, “I know the gift of forgiveness. I don’t deserve these riches yet they are mine forever because of his love.” The room loses all air as every inhabitant gasps at once.
“Your Majesties, all I ask is that you pardon their sins and free them to live in my home as my sister and mother so that they can know the love I have.”
Grace always leaves me speechless.