It’s just wonderful how Grimm Brothers’ stories are so versatile that different perspectives turn up as the time goes by, allowing them to still remain relevant.
What caught my attention lately was Cinderella, as since the beginning of the year I’ve seen her story mentioned in “Into the woods”, then in a rapping battle with Belle Cinderella vs Belle rap battle, to finally in a movie dedicated to this beloved character. But what makes her story still important in modern times? We are well aware that, when the Grimm Brothers collected stories in the 1860s, Cinderella stood out for two main reasons: it was an example of obedience and it gave common people hope that, no matter how bad things were in the present, there is always a higher power that looks after them (in the original story, that was the dead mother and not the Fairy Godmother).
As the roles of women progressed towards modern times, we witnessed different qualities being brought forward in Cinderella. “Into the woods” portrays her as a strong, independent woman, who does not let fate decide for her, but takes the initiative and gives her destiny a boost. So, the famous shoe scene was not presented as an (happy ending) accident, but a cleverly planned action of Cinderella, who intentionally leaves her shoe behind for the price to find. Moreover, she demonstrates unprecedented strong morals, as she leaves the Prince one she is made aware of his infidelities.
While the latest “Cinderella” movie, reveals 3 main qualities that are particularly valued in our time:
- Courage. What triggers all the facts in the story is not the girl’s obedience, but her courage and rebellious side. The story starts when she challenges her stepmother and goes to the ball against her clear orders. The most repeated phrase in the movie is “All you need is courage and kindness”, emphasizing that this is what today’s society wants to see in people.
- Brains over beauty. In the Grimm stories, women are not loved because they are worthy, but because they are beautiful. If originally the prince falls in love with her beauty when he sees her at the ball, nowadays, they actually meet before the ball and have a brief chance to know each other. In other words, have a more contemporary evolution of a relationship. That gives the prince the opportunity to discover the progressive mind of our Cinderella, who challenges the traditional way of thinking: “if things are done in a certain way, this doesn’t mean we should do it like that”.
- Authenticity. “The biggest risk is to be seen as you truly are”, says Cinderella on the way down to try on the shoe, after the Prince had looked for her all over. The hardest thing for our protagonist was not to show herself in front of the prince all dressed up and glamorous looking, but to reveal her true identity: that of a simple farm girl. Clearly the moral of the story is that showing who you really are is the toughest, yet most rewarding thing there is. In fact, the movie adds another detail that overshadows the importance of the perfectly fitting shoe: the Prince accepts Cinderella before she tries on the shoe. Because today character matching is more important that shoe matching…
- Modesty and equality. In old stories, the king is almighty and powerful, the supreme character that overruled everything and everybody. But a contemporary admired leader does not so much rely on the title and is always willing to prefect himself. As a consequence, the Prince is never referred to as Your Highness, but Kip, while calling himself “an apprentice” of his “job”, thus indirectly stating that titles should not be taking for granted and a modern ruler should prove himself worthy of the task.
These being said, I wonder how Cinderella will be portrayed 50 years from now. Will the Fairy Godmother build her a spaceship? 🙂
I will leave you now with some funny trivia: in none of the original versions was Cinderella wearing glass shoes! That was the result of a mistranslation and due to its oddness, became a powerful detail. In the original Grimm Brothers story, she was wearing normal “golden” shoes, as shown correctly in “Into the woods”. In the later French versions, she was referred to having “vair” shoes, which actually means squirrel fur! 🙂 But that was mistaken for the French “verre” and was translated into English as “glass”.
So instead of the iconic glass shoes, Cinderella wore something similar to these:
Now I’m wondering, is it still valid the saying: “the perfect shoes can change your whole life?”🙂