Why Ever After Is The Best Fairytale

“You cannot leave everything to fate, boy. She’s got a lot to do. Sometimes you must give her a hand.”

– Leonardo Di Vinci to Prince Henry in Ever After

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I find it really difficult to be friends with people who do not love Drew Barrymore. I am sorry, but if you cannot find it in your heart to love the walking embodiment of the sun, then we are going to have problems. I admire Drew for many reasons, one being how she overcame her turbulent youth, to become a healthy, happy and wonderful person, actress and role model.

Drew is now the mother to two young daughters. In an interview a while ago, Drew said she cannot wait to show her daughter, Olive, her 1998 film, Ever After, “because I want her to see that you can rescue yourself.”

Ever After came out when I was six years old and it was a big deal. It was a fairytale with real people in it, as opposed to a Disney animated classic. While I am a huge fan of Disney, Ever After provided a different side to fairy tale storytelling that Disney did not produce at the time (this was before the likes of Mulan and Merida joined the Disney Princesshood).

Ever After, in my opinion, has almost manifested into a cult-classic. It would be a challenge to find a girl born in the 90’s who a.) has not seen this film and b.) does not continue to love it as an adult. In fact, the other night, my flatmates and I re-watched it. Not a scene went by when one of us did not declare “It is just the best movie”, “I forgot how great this movie was”, “I am so pleased we watched this” or “Drew deserved an Oscar for this because that woman is showing her emotional range.”

Now it is time to launch into Ever After’s points of difference as a fairytale and why it should always be remembered.


Danielle is a stand out heroine, because as Drew said, she rescues herself. Spoiler alert, (but you should have already seen the film), Danielle does not need the prince to save her. Towards the end of the film, Danielle is essentially sold to a creepy sexual predator because her step-mother needs the money and wants to get rid of her. Yes, this film is the high-stakes version of its Disney’s predecessor. Danielle being the well-rounded swords-woman she is, is more than capable to fend for herself. So when the prince gallops up on horseback to save her, she does not need him to rescue her and he feels pretty ridiculous for thinking that she did. So he quickly moves on to make a 10-out-of-10 apology and promptly proposes. Earlier in the film Danielle saves the Prince from some clever gypsies and relentlessly works to save her family’s estate from ruin. This girl ain’t waiting around for a fairy godmother to save her.



Danielle is also a lover of books and knowledge, which is a key trait of any impressive heroine. Through her reading and experiences she creates a framework to help her understand the world. She is not blind to the injustices suffered by peasants and the lower classes. Her knowledge, partnered with her gumption, see her enter (and win) many debates with the prince. In fact, Danielle’s first interaction with the prince is not at the ball. Traditionally in Cinderella stories, this is when the two first meet because the prince is initially drawn to Cinderella for her mesmerising appearance. In Ever After Danielle makes an unforgettable first impression by yelling at the prince when he steals one of her horses. Danielle continues to argue with Henry and challenge his ideals throughout their romance. Interestingly, these two never share a dance in the film. Danielle does lose her shoe though, because this is Cinderella story after all.

Prince Henry



Ever After does a wonderful job of adding back stories to characters that are traditionally portrayed as two-dimensional. Prince Henry is not required to be simply charming. Instead he is allowed to be complicated, a little melodramatic and intense. At the beginning of the film, Henry is reluctant to fulfil his princely duties and “wants nothing more than to be free from his gilded cage.” He is motivated by selfish desires to be free from royal constraints, rather than having a critical stance on his birthright. Henry learns lessons through his experiences and realises he should probably embrace his privilege to serve others, rather than acting like a spoilt brat.

As mentioned above, he is an important prince because he finds Danielle attractive for her mind. Their first interactions are heated conversations where Danielle pushes his buttons and challenges his ideals. He takes her arguments on board and continues to find her fascinating. He is not interested in her for her looks, but rather for her ideologies and her approach to life which is IMPORTANT. After a small hiccup, he treats her as his equal. DOUBLE IMPORTANT.



The stepmother and step-sisters

Instead of being wicked for the sake of being wicked, Danielle’s stepmother is a bit of a b**** because she is jealous of the love Danielle’s father demonstrated for his daughter, over her, his second wife. By providing an explanation behind the step-mother’s behaviour, the relationship between her and Danielle is made more complex, rather than simply being cruel. Danielle wants to be loved by her stepmother, she is after all, the only mother she has ever known. And occasionally the audience see a pang of what might be guilt on the stepmother’s part.



The wicked stepsister, Marguerite, does not hate Danielle because of her appearance nor because she feels threatened by her. Marguerite is simply a nasty person who treats everyone badly and has fallen into the unfortunate habit of mimicking her mother. Jacqueline, the second step-sister, is not treated as an extension of her sister. Instead she gets to have her own separate personality. Jacqueline and Danielle are actually friends. Their friendship is one of the only female friendships that springs to mind when I think of female friendships in fairytale stories. Jacqueline is close with Danielle, quietly defends her and consoles her. She does not blindly follow her mother or sister’s actions, and demonstrates she too, knows her own mind.



The setting

As mentioned above, for a fairytale, Ever After does not shy away from the issues prevalent during the time. Issues concerning class are addressed. The idea of people being treated as chattels pops up, and is explicitly addressed at the beginning of the film, when Danielle saves a servant from being sold to America in order to pay for her stepmother’s debt.

Importantly, the setting is real. The premise of the film is the ‘real Cinderella story’. By making the setting factual, magic cannot be relied upon to get Cinderella out of scrapes. Hence why Leonardo Di Vinci steps into the fairy godmother’s role. While I love magic as much as the next person, it is refreshing to see a factual take on a fairytale be successful. It allows the characters to relatable. As a child, and even an adult watching, I feel I could be Danielle, if I had someone with dreamy hair chasing after me of course.



The score

The music is dreamy. It soars and it transports. I cannot explain music very well, but it had to be mentioned.

Listen for yourself here.


In conclusion, let the 90’s and Drew Barrymore reign supreme.




  1. I actually got inspired by this movie when I watched it back in 2002 I think?? I don’t remember, but I was a girl and I remember watching it really late, behid my parents’ back, because I wasn’t meant to be awake at that hour, but I came across this movie in a national channel at 2 am and I got hooked. I didn’t even see it from the beginning but I fell in love with it, and I came up with a story after watching it, I wrote a fantasy novel from this movie. It’s really different but the story is totally charged with the same feelings I got from EVER AFTER and since then, I’ve watched all Drew Barrymore’s movies. I adore her. And at that time -this is really awesome, keep reading- in the movie store they still sold movies in tapes and I got this one from a settlement in tape and I still have it. I wanna have it in Blu Ray tho XDDD

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