Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Movie Review ~ Ever After with Drew Barrymore and Dougray Scott (1998)

The time has finally come for reviewing my third top favorite movie of all time, forming as it does a trio with Shadow on the Mesa (#1) and the '04 N&S (#2)—and coming in ahead of Stagecoach, Tangled, Rob Roy, Angel and the Badman, and Emma, etc. I’ve been planning this for quite a while, but as I was working on it I realized just how much I love its late summer/early autumn setting, making this a perfectly opportune time!

And now—with that pre-ramble out of the way—our Ever After post! (Possibly to be known also hereafter as screen cap overdose. ;D)

First off, Ever After has it all: a rich, satisfying wealth of adventure, beauty, humor, character development, masterful storytelling, and poignant, beautiful, twist-your-heartstrings romance. And then there are the gorgeous settings and music! The sixteenth century springs to life with all its breathtaking brilliance, clarity, and exuberance.

I want you to vividly experience the intensity and turns of the story for yourself, so in the following (with great self-restraint) I’m going to try and not give too many spoilers. 

However, there are a number of rumblings (vague content rumors and so forth) flying here and there, which is why it initially took me quite a while to see it, not being able to decide what exactly was up with it content-wise. So what I am going to do, is hopefully share the kind of particulars I personally would have found super helpful when trying to make up my mind. (To paraphrase Uncle Max, detailing “every last eensy-teensy frightful little detail.”)

First for some of the misconceptions. The biggest of these I had upon reading the advertising was that Danielle (i.e. Cinderella) was an independent, very modern, sixteenth century feminist. She’s nothing of the kind.

Well educated, strong in her own beliefs, feisty and spirited, yet equally gentle and soft-spoken, showing both honor and respect to the end, she’s absolutely beautiful! (More on her later.)

The second comes from the summary floating around saying something along the lines of “having the courage to make your dreams come true.” From that I got the impression (again) that it would be one of those “follow your heart at the expense of everyone and everything else” type stories. I am going to give a few spoilers on this one below, but let me assure you here and now—it isn’t. Not remotely. (Don’t you love it when the advertisers try to create a blaze? The same thing happened with my copy of N&S.)

Next for the ‘content’ stuff. As aforementioned, it’s robustly in period—permeated to the hilt with rich Renaissance/late-medieval atmosphere. In other words, it’s not Victorian. 

Some period idioms are used (i.e. “tub of guts,” for instance) and That Certain Exclamation is used a couple times (for reference, about as much as the ‘95 P&P and in similar context). There’s one incident with a page near the end (where I think he’s caught attending to some personal business), but it’s NOT overt and really and truly, decidedly un-obvious. Absolutely nothing is shown. Earlier, a lady’s shoulder is shown as she’s slipping on a gown and later her upper back is shown after a whipping. Chamber pots are referenced and emptied out windows.

But please take my word for all this. Really. None of this content is more ‘iffy’ than some stuff in (for another familiar instance) Little Dorrit. In fact, much, much less so. I’m just detailing every last thing I can possibly think of to give as clear and persuasive a picture as possible. :)

Now on to the squeal-worthy part! And here I have to share some trivia facts too delightful to pass up.

#1: The story opens with the brothers Grimm calling on a nineteenth century French queen in her absolutely sumptuous rooms and fact #1 is something I only just noticed when working on this review. Have you ever noticed (those of you who have already seen this) that her bed is Leonardo’s ship from the masquerade ball?

#2: Incredibly (of all his work) it’s one of my two favorite Da Vinci paintings running through the entire story—fitting it with amazing perfection!

#3: I recently found an official movie ranking site had compiled a list of their favorite Cinderella adaptations this spring, reading from bottom to top. I didn’t recognize a lot at first and as I was scrolling I started going, “Oh… Ever After isn’t even getting mentioned in passing.” Based on some of the other variations they had, it seemed like it should at least have made the list. I was getting ruffled, but since (technically) it is a bit of a different take on the story I tried to remain calm and kept scrolling down.

The 2015 Cinderella came up as #2 and I thought, “That’s wild. I wonder what version they can possibly pick for #1?” Trying to will away the butterflies and starting to get excited as whatever-it-was would probably be worth seeing if it topped the 2015 Cinderella, I scrolled one last time and… guess what it was?!?! Yes! Absolutely! Ever After!!!! To say I’m still ecstatic would be an understatement. :)

This is probably the first film I’ve ever seen where I thought every single person (major and minor characters) were utterly and perfectly cast. 

There are a number of familiar faces, including Judy Parfitt (whom I’d seen all my growing up in the 80’s P&P as Lady Catherine and then later in Little Dorrit) playing the prince’s mother. And I love her in the part! It’s definitely my favorite of her roles. She’s so warm and gracious and regal!

And… we got all the way through before we realized we’d seen Dougray Scott (Prince Henry) in the Zorro tv show of all exciting wonders! He’s much younger in Zorro, but it’s especially funny as he has a roughly similar character arc—just about seven years earlier.

But now for the rest of the casting:

The young Danielle does excellently and her relationship with her father is absolute perfection.

There are the dear servants.

And Gustave.

Leonardo da Vinci

(“Then you learn to pay attention.”)

The Baroness Rodmilla de Ghent (Danielle’s stepmother).

(“She’s mute, my lord.”)

Marguerite, the nasty stepsister.

And Jacqueline who is SO sweet (with some of the most quote-adaptable comebacks)!

There’s the king (I love how his character changes—I wasn’t expecting it!)

The captain of the guard.

And the de Ghent household’s “benefactor”, Pierre Le Pieu, who is appropriately wicked and creepy.

And of course, the gypsies…

But first and foremost, there’s Danielle de Barbarac and Prince Henry.

During and throughout their various adventures together in river and wood, he treats her with such perfect and thorough respect and honor.

His character arc is incredible.

He becomes a man. And looking back over that arc, the depth and balance of the oft-times conflicting growth within it is astounding.

And there is Danielle herself. 

Sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of what true beauty looks like. Courageous strength to risk oneself for a loved one—to say the hard words when called upon—is not incompatible with true femininity.  They’re inseparable qualities. Gentleness and grace with fierce loyalty. A clarity of vision and steadfastness of soul. The beauty of a gem wrought—fashioned—bent and shaped to glory through duress and pain, shining even in the darkness with the radiant light lying always at its heart.

Vibrant and pulsating with the potent reality of life, Ever After is a story of grace on the undeserving. The adventure of life is worth every pain—and the weight of glory on the other side is immense.

“While Cinderella and her prince did live happily ever after—the point, gentlemen, is that they lived.”

(And I’m sorry, this last one’s blurry, but oh… the joy of it!!!)

In conclusion (and to borrow a phrase from my sister), it’s one of my greatest heart stories—true, good, beautiful, poignant, heady, glory-reflecting story—and I love it hard!

Tell me! Have you seen Ever After? What do you think?


  1. I just…I can't…gah.

    I LOVE THIS MOVIE. Unabashedly. I rewatched it for the first time in a long while recently, and…I'd forgotten just how sweeping and WOW it is. This review was stunning, I gotta say;D

    THANK YOU. Danielle is a wonderful heroine. And the Henri definitely does have a great character arc. One thing I really appreciate about EA is that at the ball, when he finds out she's a servant, there aren't just butterflies and warm fuzzies and "don't worry about it"s. His reaction is realistic, and I like that (even though GAH THE PAIN IN THAT SCENE).

    Ahhhh, that's such a cool trivia tidbit! (The bed thing, too, but more specifically this.) I was actually just thinking the other night (after having watched Cinderella 2015 for the second time) which adaptation I thought was better, and…I couldn't quite decide which I personally liked more, but I do think that EA is just a WEE bit "better" in the technical sense--in terms of expansion and originality and such. But '15 is so darn precious, too. Just can't. Anyway, I'm rambling now.

    In short, again, WONDERFUL review. It gave me butterflies and excited bubbles and such like:D

    1. Olivia,
      Your comment made me grinningly happy!!! ;D I'm SO happy you love it, too, and thank you!!

      Yes, I like the original story perfectly well, but (in fitting with its not-quite-traditional-retelling) I like how they chose to handle the ball scene and also afterwards. I know! It twists my heartstrings and makes me ache just thinking about it. :P

      Isn't it? I'm looking forward to seeing the 2015 again. My general first impressions were similar. I think the 2015 is a gorgeous remake of the traditional story and -- while being a Cinderella adaptation -- EA can almost stand as a story in its own right, (if that makes sense).

      And thank you, I'm sooo happy to hear about the butterflies and excited bubbles!! ;D

  2. This was such a stunning review. If I had not already seen Ever After, I would have immediately gone and watched it. You conveyed it's heart and beauty so wonderfully.
    And I do love this movie with all my heart. :)

    1. Laura Yackel,
      I'm so happy to hear I would have convinced you and so delighted to find another already-lover of the story! ;) Thank you so much for your kind words and for commenting!!

  3. What a splendid review of one of my all-time favorite films! This was a childhood favorite that I first saw with my mother and it has been watched and re-watched numerous times since. It's definitely one of my top favorite 'Cinderella' films, however, it is SO difficult to decide whether I like Ever After or Cinderella 2015 more!
    Ever After is so sweet, precious and realistic, whereas Cinderella 2015 is a charmingly beautiful scenic film that makes you squeal with happiness throughout. Decisions, decisions. ;-)

    1. By the way, I nominated you for the "Awesome Food Award" at my blog, here: http://bloggingcryslyn.blogspot.com/2015/09/the-awesome-food-award.html

      Warmest blessings on your day :-)

    2. Cryslyn,
      Thank you and I'm so glad you enjoyed it! Isn't it soooo hard to decide sometimes between top favorites? I'm looking forward to seeing the 2015 again soon -- hopefully with a friend. ;)

      And thank you for the tag. It might take me a couple weeks to put it together, but I'm looking forward to it. :) Blessings on your day, too!

  4. I re-watche this again recently, the only other time my having watched it being years and years ago, and I was impressed with it. Sure it's not a prefect or great movie but it's so sweet and fun and not overly goofy. Much better than I vaguely remembered it from years before.

    1. Lois,
      Yes, even if I like a movie (in fact, even more so if I liked it :P) -- and unless it's very very bad indeed -- I generally always try to give something at least two watches, too, before making up my mind. ;) I'm so glad you enjoyed it more the second time! :)

  5. Loved all the pictures you included in your opost, dear Heidi! Oh, Ever After is my absolute favourite movie ever...the story...the costumes...the music...the casting - everything was literally perfect in my humble opinion! Hee!
    Prince Henry...he is amazing but one thing destroyed him for - I watched Mission Impossible 2, and he was...the bad guy! Oh gosh, I couldn't believe our nice prince was such a terrible character in another movie!
    Oh...and I just love Danielle...Drew Barrymore played her role to perfection, and I'd say Danielle is probably my favourite movie character!
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts...this movie is above and beyond the new Cinderella...I think it is more believe-able...if you know what I mean! Love it!
    Hugs to you, friend!

    1. Kelly-Anne,
      I'm SO happy you love it, too!! And that you loved all the pictures.... it took a lot of work, but was such fun! ;)

      Yes, perfection just about sums it up. ;D

      I haven't seen that other one and I'll definitely take your word for it :), but a number of my favorite heroes generally play villains, so I'm not terribly surprised. :P My sister and I have a theory that the two sometimes go hand-in-hand, as people that can play great villains can "get" that amazing depth of character in a flawed hero (i.e. RA as Thornton, for instance?) ;)

      So yes, definitely my #3 top favorite movie and I'm so so so happy you love it as well. :) Hugs to you, too!

  6. THIS! Heidi, this review is absolutely wonderful and spot-on! You captured each characters' uniqueness explicitly and with such warmth! I am SO very glad that this movie topped at #1 because I feel as though it is truly a masterpiece in its own, special way. :D

    1. Sarah!
      THANK YOU!! I'm so happy you liked it, especially as.... well, you know who ultimately convinced me to FINALLY see it. ;D The review took a lot of thought so I'm so happy to hear it captured everything so well! :)

      (And yes, I'm still just spinningly ecstatic about that...!! :D)

  7. Oh, I LOVE Ever After!! It's a movie that I could watch over and over and over and never get bored of! :)

    This review was wonderful, Heidi! Especially loved all the pics, it let me "re-live" the movie ;) Really, it made #1 on the best Cinderella adaption? WOW!! That is just....too cool! :)

    And no, I never noticed the queen's bed. I mean, I saw it, but I just thought it was a ....bed :P Next time I watch the movie, I'll definitely be looking out for that!

    1. Blessing Counter,
      I'm so very happy to hear you love it, too! Exactly. I can't believe how many times I can see it over again without getting tired of it. (Usually I can't dig into a movie more than three times in short order, but not Ever After! ;))

      I'm so glad you enjoyed the review and all the pictures!!

      And isn't that #1 business amazing? I couldn't believe it either. :D

  8. Here I am! So excited to read your review in full. :D

    Oh! You've seen Angel and the Badman? How funny! I've thought of asking you if you've seen that before, as it seems like a movie you'd like, but I hadn't gotten around to it.

    I love medieval/tudor/etc. movies, but I haven't seen that many! This one looks so entertaining and period accurate.

    Ugh, YES. I wonder if advertisers ever watch the movies they advertise! Haha, I feel I have the same North and South copy. "No, advertisers, this is not THAT kind of a movie. The romance is not like THAT. UGH." ;P

    Thank you so much for detailing all the content you can think of! It definitely doesn't sound as bad as I thought it was, and really want to see it now!

    Ooh, the characters do look and sound SO good! Wait...Prince Henry?!
    Hmph. They stole my character. ;)
    But..oh..oh...his character arc! It sounds so perfect. I just love character development.

    Ahaha, Gustaf looks adorably funny!

    Oh my word....I nearly tear up just by seeing the screencaps.
    Heidi, you've done it. I must see this movie. You've made me soo excited now!! :D

    On a similar note, have you ever read Ella Enchanted? It's a really sweet, fun, and clean retelling of Cinderella. A little magical, perhaps, but really good nonetheless.

    1. Natalie,
      Yes! It's a fairly new favorite, but I do love Angel and the Badman! :)

      And I LOVE the EA period setting, too! ;D I haven't found many good Tudor era movies either and this one is perfection.

      Hee. Yes, I think we've got the same N&S copy. The one talking about the "one who has secretly become her admirer"? :P (*clears throat* I don't think so, whoever-wrote-that. There wasn't much secret between them in that regard from fairly early on. So no. I don't think so.) And then I know it goes on... but I don't have the case beside me and I do try and forget certain frightful things. ;D

      Yes, Prince Henry!!! ;) I know, that can be so awkward running across double names, but don't get too concerned. It took me aaaaages to name my hero, Cedric (in ODS) and then I realized that's Little Lord Fauntleroy's given name (which book I loved way back when), so maybe it had just bubbled up from my sub-concious? :P But my Cedric and Little Lord Fauntleroy are utterly and completely different from each other. Appearance, temperament, EVERYTHING. :D

      I absolutely can't wait till you can see this, m'dear!!!! ;D

      (And Ella Enchanted -- I've run across it, but no, I haven't read it. Since you recommended it, I'll have to look into it!)

    2. YES. The one and the same copy. Then there's a blurb along the top from "The Hollywood Reporter" .....yes, it's best to forget some things. ;)

      Haha, how funny! Well, by now I've seen EA (I promise an email will be on its way soon!) and while Prince Henry was very different from my Henry, there were a few moments of "that's exactly how my Henry would act!!" So that was quite entertaining. :)

  9. This is such a beautiful review--and it sounds like a truly beautiful movie, too! Danielle is just lovely . . . you can tell she's really sweet, and yet really strong too. And I love how you pointed out that strength and beauty and grace don't have to be separated; they all go together! (Some allegedly "strong" female characters in recent movies appear to have--ahem--forgotten that :) )

    1. jessica,
      Thank you and I'm so very happy you enjoyed it. :) And "strength and beauty and grace..." yes, exactly! I hope you can see this sometime soon!!

  10. I've grown up watching this movie right alongside Pride and Prejudice and The Princess Bride, and I do love it so! I completely agree with your assessment of Danielle's character. I get frustrated with the world's feminist movements that leave out retaining any femininity. Danielle is a wonderful example of character.

    Oh, to choose a favorite Cinderella would be nigh impossible! The Cinderella 2015 is one of my new favorite movies.

    Natalie is right: Ella Enchanted truly fits right in. It's a lovely story. (So long as you read the book and don't judge by the movie. ;) )

    1. Skyeler,
      Thank you so much for commenting and I'm so glad you agree! Danielle's such a wonderful example of true strength and femininity, isn't she?

      And I know -- I was having trouble figuring out which Cinderella might be my favorite, too, till I realized that if EA is one of my top three favorite movies it logically had to be my favorite Cinderella, too. ;) But actually, I kind of think of them separately.... so if I was going to pick a Cinderella that gorgeously embodied the traditional story I'd say the 2015. :)

      And thank you, I'll really have to look into Ella Enchanted now as I've received a double recommendation!

  11. It has been ages since I saw this movie, but I do remember liking the characters and the twists in the story very much. Now I feel really motivated to watch it again - I must do that soon.
    Lovely review!

    1. Rose,
      Oh, I hope you can see it again soon! And thank you! :)

  12. We love this movie. I think it is hard to pick between this and 2015 Cinderella because they are totally different takes. The former is more of a developed story while the latter is more of a true Disney princess style fairytale. One of my sisters suggested doing a animated Cinderella, Ever After, and 2015 Cinderella movie night.

    1. Livia Rachelle,
      I was so happy to get your comment! And I think you hit the nail on the head. I agree. I've also read some reviews/heard people complaining that the 2015 doesn't have enough character development (which is why some of them like EA), but that's not how I look at it. To me, the 2015 is supposed to be the traditional fairy tale whereas EA is taking a different angle/expansion on the story altogether. So I really think you can enjoy both.

      And wow, that would be quite the sister night -- if you're able to schedule it, do have fun together!!! ;)

  13. Oh, Heidi, what a wonderful, in-depth review! You're making me want to watch this again -- I haven't seen it in years, even though I own a copy. I have a lovely memory of seeing this in the theater with my 3 high school friends the summer before I went to college. It was one of the few movies all 4 of us absolutely loved! I used to do lace braids into a circlet around my head just like Danielle's all the time.

    Your screencaps are splendid, by the way. Wow. Well done!

    1. Hamlette,
      I'm SO happy you enjoyed it!!! And oh good. Mission accomplished! ;D I love her lace braids.... and her twist at the ball?!? Soooo gorgeous. Your hair color is similar to Danielle's, too. (Well, a lot closer than mine is. :)) You should try out the braids again with your new skirt. :)

      And thank you for the compliment.... I'm so super happy you enjoyed them!

    2. Yes, actually, my hair is pretty close to hers -- I hadn't noticed! Hmm, we're going out with a bunch of church friends on Friday to a German restaurant, and I was thinking of wearing my new skirt... if I have time, maybe I WILL do something with my hair :-)

    3. Oh, and I'd forgotten how handsome Dougray Scott is in this. My goodness, I was so upset when he pulled out of the first X-Men. He was supposed to play my beloved Wolverine, and then they had to replace him at the last minute with some unknown Aussie because of scheduling conflicts with M:I2 where he was playing a bad guy? SO unfair! In fact, I was so mad I didn't go see X-men in the theater. Of course, 15 years on, and now that unknown Aussie is my 2nd fave actor and I'm pretty mournful that he's only going to play Wolvie in two more films, because 7 runs in the role so far just isn't enough, and 9 total won't be either...

    4. Hamlette,
      I remember you telling me a few months ago! :) (About X-Men that is...) It is so funny how things work out sometimes... :P

      And yes, about Dougray Scott in EA. *coughs* As a rule I'm not much given to fan-girling to a certain extent in public, but if I ever chose to do such a thing.... yes, well, you understand my sentiments. *goes off still coughing*

  14. What a great review! I'm so glad so many people love this film : )

    1. Ivy Miranda,
      Thank you! And yes, indeed. Isn't it wonderful? :)


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