The Slipper & The Rose Movie | An Underrated Musical Film
I want to start by saying that if I looked at the DVD cover or even the synopsis of this movie, I'm not sure I would be persuaded to buy it; in my view, the cover does make it look like a cheesy and dated romance...but after first watching it on TV when I was a child, it has become one of my favorite ever musicals. And I have watched a lot of musicals.
It summons up great nostalgia for me, and I honestly think that it is extremely underrated; especially the magical and powerful musical score. It's everything a fairytale should be for me, and no expense was spared on the costumes or sets; just stunning.
The movie was released 11 years before I was even born, and I think this proves that it has timeless appeal, from children through to adults. And it's funny. The 'Find a Mate (dear boy)' song always raises a smile, as does the King (played by Michael Hordern) and the rather camp Duke of Montague (played by Julian Orchard). And my favorite song is actually 'What a Comforting Thing To Know' which is sung by Prince Edward and his friend whilst dancing on the tombs of his dead ancestors!
Of course the story is very much like the original tale of Cinderella, but with more realism (bar the existence of the Fairy Godmother, who is wonderfully played by Annette Crosbie).
The story starts with Cinderella (played by Gemma Craven) returning home with her step-mother and step-sisters, having just attended the funeral of Cinderella's father. The evil step-mother wastes no time sending Cinderella down to the cellar to start work as their full-time servant.
Cinderella and Prince Edward (played by the handsome Richard Chamberlain) both reside in the country of Euphrania, and their paths cross one day when Cinderella sees him riding a horse in the countryside near her home, and she watches him secretly.
At the same time, the Prince is facing pressure to get married in order to strengthen bonds between Euphrania and a neighboring country and maintain peace. The Prince on the other hand is quite determined to get married for love not political reasons. However, as the King amusingly puts it; "What has love got to do with being married?"!
A 'bride-finding ball' is announced to invite all of the eligible princesses and local nobility to meet the Prince, and naturally Cinderella (with the help of her Fairy Godmother) manages to crash the party, where the Prince falls in love at first sight.
As the clock strikes 12 though, Cinderella must run before the spell wears off and her dress, finery and carriage disappear. Leaving a glass slipper on the steps, the Prince uses it to search high and low for the woman he loves.
After the Prince and Cinderella are reunited eventually, she accepts his offer of marriage and all seems to be well, until the King gets involved and sends Cinderella into exile, unbeknownst to the Prince, due to the fact she was but an ordinary girl, not a princess.
The Prince then has no choice but to marry the princess chosen for him by his father in order to prevent war, but on the day they are to be married, the Fairy Godmother makes sure that Cinderella arrives at the castle wedding venue wearing a wedding gown (subtle). The Fairy Godmother uses her magic to make sure this time her plans go right, so the 'other bride' ends up marrying the Prince's cousin instead! Sounds complicated doesn't it?
But the important thing is that the Prince and Cinderella are at last married and live happily ever after. Awww...
I think everyone is so well cast, and their singing voices are perfect; I have no complaints at all. The characters are not like many fairytale films where they are merely 'one-note' or shallow or one-dimensional. The main stars all have depth and are very believable, and most importantly, likeable.
An excellent showcase for British talent.
The song score was written by the famous Sherman brothers who are also responsible for most of the songs in Mary Poppins, The Jungle Book and The Aristocats, which should give you some idea about the quality of the songs in this movie.
The soundtrack definitely deserves more notice than it has ever received, and I genuinely like all the songs. I have already mentioned my favorite, but I also love 'Tell Him Anything' which is where the heartbroken Cinderella is told she must go into exile without saying goodbye to the Prince. Always makes me well up.
Other memorable songs include 'Why Can't I Be Two People?', 'Protocoligorically Correct', and 'She Danced With Me'.
I've already mentioned the beautiful costumes, but the countryside and castle where the movie is set really is spectacular. A lot of the picturesque scenes are shot in soft focus for a romantic and dreamy look too, which really suits the mood. There is one particular scene when Cinderella is in exile that just looks like a dream; if you watch it, look out for the swing scene, especially the girls who will definitely appreciate the frock :)
The hair is quite elaborate too, and I always used to want the wig Cinderella wears for the 'bride-finding ball' - it's fabulously sparkly!
The Slipper and The Rose is an entertaining and magical musical which I'm sure would be loved by the whole family, even the most cynical!
Here is the VHS option for residents of the U.S., in case you want to watch it the traditional way :)
Just as a side note; if you're looking for a DVD copy, make sure that you get one that will play on American DVD players; you'll need a Region 1 DVD in this case unless you have a multi-region DVD player.
Here are two videos to give you a taste of the movie; one is a fan-made trailer, and the other is the song 'Protocoligorically Correct'.