Imagine a world where Cinderella did not get her normal happy ending. Imagine what would have happened if Lady Tremaine found a way to get her hands on the Fairy Godmother’s magic wand. Can you picture it? It becomes a crazy concept and what it does is create one of the most well crafted straight to video movie Disney has ever made. For years I have been plugging the 2007 straight to video Disney release, but I think it’s about time I formally talk about it on my site. Let’s talk about Cinderella III.
The film starts out simply enough. Cinderella is in the woods with Prince Charming, enjoying a picnic together with the Fairy Godmother. Enter step-sister Anastasia. She finds the Fairy Godmother’s wand and inadvertently turns her into stone. She then gives the wand to her mother, Lady Tremaine. What does she do? What else – goes back in time to try to ruin Cinderella’s life and boost the daughter who found the wand for her making her Prince Charming’s bride. That’s the goal. What happens along the way is a journey for two characters adding unexpected depth to both of them – Cinderella and Anastasia.
–SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW–
With the Prince’s memories altered and the glass slipper expanded to fit Anastasia, the Prince believes her to be the one he fell in love with at the party. During this time, we see Anastasia in a different role. She’s not merely one of Lady Tremaine’s sidekick daughters, but a fully fleshed out character. She wants to please her mother. She desires the Prince. But, she also has a conscience that grows to nag at her throughout the film. As she gets to know the Prince better and spend time with his family in the build up to their wedding, Anastasia sees real love firsthand. No, I’m not merely talking about romantic love, I’m talking also about familial love.
Anastasia spends time with Prince Charming in the preparation for the wedding, but also with his father. The two have a few moments where they talk and the King reminisces about his late wife. He talks about his romance and their love for each other. Yet, he also shows Anastasia familial love. He opens up to her, shares raw moments about his late wife, and even gives her a gift – a seashell that was at the center of the story about how he and his wife from when they first met. It was his late wife’s most treasured possession and he gave it to Anastasia, his future daughter-in-law. Throughout the film Anastasia grows emotionally and begins to see through what her mother is doing. She doesn’t care about Anastasia’s happiness, she merely has a grudge against Cinderella and wants power for herself. Evil has grown in the heart of this woman, an evil that is more human than any supernatural villain we see in Disney films.
Cinderella also grows to a certain degree. She’s captured, thrown in dungeons, and sent to her death at one point in a pumpkin turned carriage. Yet she survives. No Prince saves her, she gets herself back to the palace herself to restore the memories of her Prince. She is going to fix things, not seeking someone else to do it for her. While, in the end, a new sisterly bond forms between her and Anastasia, Cinderella does most of her own rescuing. Sure there’s a little help from our favorite animated rodents, but she ends up saving herself and beating a human form of Tremaine’s cat Lucifer. There’s a religious metaphor in there somewhere about love conquering Lucifer, but I digress!
Cinderella III is a treasure of an animated film. I would recommend it highly. Don’t believe me? It’s currently at 71% Fresh at Rotten Tomatoes, which is far higher than the sub-par Little Mermaid Sequel. If you like seeing a Disney movie flipped around in an interesting way, check out Cinderella III. I think you’ll be glad you did. I know I was.