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Why do films like this exist in today's industry? Well franchising for one thing, and even though films like this are basically products in Disney's pipeline it CAN be well done given that the movie's got a determined director at the helm. And oddly, Branagh, the guy who directed films such as 1996's Hamlet, was just the guy to make Cinderella into a watchable film. It's pretty, has a good cast and has some nice tid-bits of humor here and there. And it's an update on the whole Disney-esque 'happily ever after' thing. Yes the story's the same but it gives some much-needed chemistry to Cinderella's and 'The Prince''s romantic charm. And... it works.
Giambattista Basile, an Italian soldier and government official, assembled a set of oral folk tales into a written collection titled Lo cunto de li cunti (The Story of Stories), or Pentamerone. It included the tale of Cenerentola, which features a wicked stepmother and evil stepsisters, magical transformations, a missing slipper, and a hunt by a monarch for the owner of the slipper. It was published posthumously in 1634.
In a coda added in the second edition of 1819, during Aschenputtel's wedding, as she walks down the aisle with her stepsisters as her bridesmaids, (they had hoped to worm their way into her favour), the doves fly down and strike the two stepsisters' eyes, one in the left and the other in the right. When the wedding comes to an end, and Aschenputtel and her prince march out of the church, the doves fly again, striking the remaining eyes of the two evil sisters blind, a punishment they had to endure for the rest of their lives.
By September 1943, Disney had assigned Dick Huemer and Joe Grant to begin work on Cinderella as story supervisors and given a preliminary budget of $1 million. However, by 1945, their preliminary story work was halted. During the writing stages of Song of the South, Dalton S. Reymond and Maurice Rapf quarreled, and Rapf was reassigned to work on Cinderella. In his version, Cinderella was written to be a less passive character than Snow White, and more rebellious against her stepfamily. Rapf explained, "My thinking was you can't have somebody who comes in and changes everything for you. You can't be delivered it on a platter. You've got to earn it. So in my version, the Fairy Godmother said, 'It's okay till midnight but from then on it's up to you.' I made her earn it, and what she had to do to achieve it was to rebel against her stepmother and stepsisters, to stop being a slave in her own home. So I had a scene where they're ordering her around and she throws the stuff back at them. She revolts, so they lock her up in the attic. I don't think anyone took (my idea) very seriously."
In 1922, Walt Disney produced a Laugh-O-Gram cartoon based on "Cinderella", and he had been interested in producing a second version in December 1933 as a Silly Symphony short. Burt Gillett was attached as the director while Frank Churchill was assigned as the composer. A story outline included "white mice and birds" as Cinderella's playmates. To expand the story, storyboard artists suggested visual gags, some of which ended up in the final film. However, the story proved to be too complicated to be condensed into a short so it was suggested as a possible animated feature film as early as 1938 starting with a fourteen-page outline written by Al Perkins. Two years later, a second treatment was written by Dana Cofy and Bianca Majolie, in which Cinderella's stepmother was named Florimel de la Pochel; her stepsisters as Wanda and Javotte; her pet mouse Dusty and pet turtle Clarissa; the stepsisters' cat Bon Bob; the Prince's aide Spink, and the stepsisters' dancing instructor Monsieur Carnewal. This version stuck closely to the original fairy tale until Cinderella arrives home late from the second ball. Her stepfamily then imprison Cinderella in a dungeon cellar. When Spink and his troops arrive at the la Pochel residence, Dusty takes the slipper and leads them to free Cinderella.
Cinderella's stepmother and stepsisters (in some versions just the stepsisters and, in some other versions, a stepfather and stepsisters) conspire to win the prince's hand for one of them. In the German telling, the first stepsister fits into the slipper by cutting off a toe, but the doves in the hazel tree alert the prince to the blood dripping from the slipper, and he returns the false bride to her mother. The second stepsister fits into the slipper by cutting off her heel, but the same doves give her away.
The same story is also later reported by the Roman orator Aelian (ca. 175–ca. 235) in his Miscellaneous History, which was written entirely in Greek. Aelian's story closely resembles the story told by Strabo, but adds that the name of the pharaoh in question was Psammetichus. Aelian's account indicates that the story of Rhodopis remained popular throughout antiquity.