Blu-ray: The Slipper and the Rose – The Story of Cinderella (1976)
In this very British take on the Cinderella tale by director Bryan Forbes, Prince Edward of Euphrania (Austria) (Richard Chamberlain) wants to marry for love while his Royal parents want a political alliance. Meanwhile, Cinderella’s (Gemma Craven) cruel stepmother (Margaret Lockwood) has banished her to the kitchen and forces her to work as a servant for her and her two vindictive daughters, Isobella (Rosalind Ayers) and Palatine (Sherrie Hewson).
After seeing Disney’s Cinderella as a very small girl, I was more or less obsessed with the story, mainly because she was taken away from her horribly poor existence to live in a castle, and that she was transformed into someone beautiful. At the age of 5 this truly resonated with me, and I vividly remember aged 7 being hit across the hands by a nun in school for repeatedly drawing Cinderella (me) in a ballgown.
I also remember The Slipper and the Rose being everywhere as it was being filmed. Mainly on Chris Kelly’s ‘Clapperboard’, a kids film review series from the 1970s. It seemed that every week there would be something on about this film, and much like today with trailers, you got to see so much of it that it was almost like you’d seen the whole thing. I know I was NOT taken to the cinema to see it. My Dad was the film buff and would only take me to see things that HE could stomach (Clash of the Titans, Star Wars, Jaws). So my first viewing was years later, on TV. I adored it.
It retells the Cinderella story in the most quintessentially British way. Clipped accents and massively old school UK film giants prance around in costume, singing about marriage and brides and balls and.. marriage. Seeing Richard Chamberlain dance a la Wayne Sleep is like a LSD flashback.
If anything this is a Cinderella story for grown ups, not in its content, the only real political statement in it is that you should marry for love, and I doubt whether Forbes was thinking of arranged marriages when he was making this.
Thinking of children viewing this, I don’t know if their attention would hold as the singing and dancing and actual talking all seem rather serious. This isn’t a Disney film and I think today’s kids are used to that Disney sensibility of ‘be nice to everyone’ and ‘let it go’ and those bright popping colours. This isn’t a film aimed at kids. Its sumptuous, the costumes and sets are amazing and the acting is top notch. And despite the singing (I had actually forgotten there was singing! And I do admit it was a little tiresome, but I think that about a lot of Disney’s too – with the exception of The Little Mermaid and Jungle Book) This IS a grownup fairytale.
When this Blu-ray came I was so excited to watch it, and I was shocked at my reaction to it. When you review films you tend to look at old favourites through rose tinted glasses, and this was a big rosy one for me. I expected a film for little girls, all frilly and fairy Godmothers, but what I got was a heartfelt tale of lost love that’s over 2 hours long!
I think the real joy I got from this rewatch was seeing the cast, all those UK greats, doing their thing (Michael Horden, Kenneth More, Lally Bowers, Edith Evans, Annette Crosbie and the ever wonderful Margaret Lockwood.
Well I guess I still adore it!
- The Making Of The Slipper and The Rose
- The Fairy Godmother: An Interview with Annette Crosbie
- The Naughty Sister: An Interview with Rosalind Ayres
- Original Trailer
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