The assigned feature films, Ever After by Andy Tennant and Cinderella 2015 by Kenneth Branagh, are both inspired by and based on the original Cinderella story adapted by Hans Christian Andersen from the German folk version. The movies are very parallel in including characters, situations, backgrounds, and some fragments of the plot of the story, yet quite distinct in addressing these elements. Plots of both cinematic texts include Cinderella’s parents’ tragic death, Cinderella becoming a servant, dwelling with stepmother and stepsisters and overcoming hardship caused by them, meeting the prince, and arrival at the happy ending. However, the personalities of main characters in each film are interpreted from similar social but different philosophical premises despite the fact that sets of those appearing in the stories are almost identical. It is prominent that both films address the problem of social classes. In fact, social inequality is one of the obstacles for Cinderella to be with the prince in the original tale as well as in both films analyzed here. Though both films address prince’s point of view towards social classes, Ever After by Tennant focuses more on prince’s disappointment with the discrimination towards lower social classes, while Cinderella 2015 by Branagh depicts the world with fair society and relatively respectful attitudes between representatives of “tops” and “bottoms”. Prince’s behavior towards common people in each film is mostly visible in his attitude to Cinderella because she appears both as a noble lady and as a simple young woman at different points of the stories.
In the Ever After by Tennant, Prince Henry is the person who gets very distressed after he realizes that Danielle does not actually belong to the upper class. At the mask feast, he meets Danielle; Henry is pleased to see her at this point because he still believes that she is a noble person. Basically, none of his conventional assumptions about how the world works is questioned at the moment, he has no trigger to start to rethinking those. However, he turns around himself in anger after Baroness, her stepmother, told him about Danielle’s true social class, a servant. It is still an open to discussion question if he was angry because she was a servant or because he felt deceived, however, it would be more delicate of him to realize that such a reaction might hurt and humiliate the girl. After Prince Henry gets aware that Danielle is a servant. He arguably discriminates the person by social class, although he is the person who is going to become the king one day. This distinct the movies prominently because in Ever After the one sees a narration that tends to remain realistic with no division on plain white and black; a character may act wrongly at one point but he/she can still be a positive character. On the other hand, Branagh depicts Prince Kit to be a totally different person comparing to Prince Henry. When this prince Charming meets Ella at the ball he recognizes the forest stranger he was enchanted with regardless of her social class, but now he thinks she is the foreign princess. In his situation of looking for the queen from abroad for the safety of his own country, considering social class sounds reasonable, especially from his father’s point of view. When he realizes Ella’s social class at the end of the movie, the prince remains neutral about the situation. He looks quite sure about what he says thus revealing the rather open-minded character of a person who does not judge people based on social class or different personal background. Branagh represented the prince as a person who chooses love instead of material benefits thus staying true to his feelings despite conventional expectations for the one in his position. However, one more thing needs tracing in discussing this difference between princes. Cinderella 2015 depicts characters that are rather static; they do not get much development throughout the plot. Ever After urges its characters to rethink their philosophical presuppositions in situations where usual rules do not work anymore, thus both constructing and registering their development along the film’s running time for a viewer to make his/her own conclusions.
In comparing the interpretations of the prince, some scenes are intended to expose princes’ personalities in focus. Danielle in Ever After and Ella in Cinderella 2015 both meet the prince at the first time while the prince is on the horse. In Ever and After, Danielle does not recognize the prince, and she throws an apple at him because she mistakes him for a thief. After mistake reveals, she kneels down and bow to express an apology in front of a royal person. In the scene, the prince was on the horse, so he looks down at her. The whole frame is constructed to convey the significant difference in their social statuses. To emphasize that even more, he tossed the sag of gold to her for keeping silence. From this scene, a viewer might get an impression that he treats Danielle rudely and disrespectfully. This contrasts in important aspects with a parallel scene from Cinderella 2015. Ella, also known as Cinderella, meets prince Kit while he hunts in woods with his guards. However, Ella confidently tries to persuade him not to hunt the deer. She seems to even flirt with him a little by saying that she feels that “he” is going to have a long and interesting life. This pronoun is ambiguous and can be understood as referring to the dear she protects and to the young man she just met. Of course, after that, he refuses to continue the hunt. The prince seems to falls in love at the first sight with the mysterious, pretty, and charming stranger in the wood who did not even said her name. At this point, Ella’s social class is still unknown and doubtful, which makes his father disapprove what looks to him as the prince’s new romantic infatuation. What about the prince, he seems not to care about Ella’s social class or her other identification at all. The prince only concentrates on the basic personality of Ella and the charming first impression she made, so he hides his own social status in order to not to scare her away. When the captain called the prince, the prince legibly said “Kit, Kit!” to imply that he wants to remain incognito. In this case, the prince Charming clearly wants to stay with her without any specs that he has such as social class and wealth. Various reasons can be argued to be crucial here. He might want to be judged by plain personality without her making unnecessary curtseys. Maybe, he wanted to make sure that her interest is not about his royal status and wealth. In any case, he treated her respectfully and did not use his status to humiliate her despite the fact that, after all, she just tried to keep a royal person from doing what he wanted to do.
Comparing personalities of Prince Henry and Prince Kit, it is hard to disagree that their default attitudes towards lower social classes are different. Tennant’s interpretation of this character focuses more on sobriety and seriousness that usual realistically portrayed prince has. On the contrary, Branagh expresses Prince Kit as a person who wants to hide his personal identification and only focus on his instinct of love towards Ella regardless of her status.
Keeping in mind everything stated above, one shall not blame Prince Henry of arrogance, which might be tempting if one puts those two alongside. There is a chain of pieces of evidence for a claim that these characters are both shaped this way exclusively because they are nothing but parts of the fictional worlds they exist in and function by the laws of those worlds. In Branagh’s fairy space of classic Disney movie, positive and negative characters are divided with a most visible line in the sand possible: bad people act as such, good people remain kind no matter what. Tennant’s world is constructed as more complex for the characters to have more freedom of choice and more space for development. Consequently, a viewer gets a less predictable story. In fact, in Cinderella 2015, Ella is blind for social status as well: she does not get scared after acknowledging Kit’s position, she speaks openly and frankly to the king himself, addressing him more like a Kit’s father than as her rightful ruler, and she is equally kind and respectful towards a merchant who brought her tragic news about her father’s decease. The world Henry lives in is more like ours where people get some unquestioned beliefs and manners as children and sometimes face a need to redesign those, however stressful it might be. In the aftermath, Danielle’s social class does not become an insurmountable wall between them; it only takes time for Henry to reshape his personality in accordance to new realities of his world, specifically to his feelings for a girl who is not a princess.
To conclude, Ever After by Andy Tennant and Cinderella 2015 by Kenneth Branagh interpreted the personality of the prince from an original tale in different ways. Although the prince in each film has duplicated basic characteristics such as reputation, wealth, and fancy looking, they think and act as different people and follow different value systems constructed in accordance with the laws of fictional worlds they exist in. Ever After by Tennant emphasize how Henry evolves from the one who considers social class as the important thing to one who marries a servant for who she truly is as a person. Cinderella 2015 by Branagh highlights Kit’s static positive personality of the one who treats others respectfully and follows his feelings regardless of any prejudices around social class.