Getting What You Want

October 5, 2008

Would it mean much to call a movie “Disney’s finest direct-to-video film yet”? Well, I just watched Cinderella III: A Twist in Time, and let me tell you: it’s quite good. Certainly, with regard to the story, it’s better than the original, but that’s not too difficult. Cinderella is a classic, but honestly, German fairy tales are rather weak on both plot and character development. But what really makes Cinderella III good is that it has a nice, applicable message. Cinderella‘s main point, that you should just keep believing in your dreams and they will come true, isn’t really news you can use. Also, Cinderella herself is way too perfect. If you’re perfect like Cinderella, then great things will happen for you eventually. Great. Enjoy your movie. But what about if you’re not perfect?

Cinderella plays a big role in this film, naturally, but really, the main character is Cinderella’s stepsister, Anastasia. In the original Cinderella, Anastasia was a stuck-up, one-dimensional brat. In this movie, she is depicted as flawed, but ultimately human. Yes, she is jealous of Cinderella, but that jealousy isn’t some plot device to give the movie a villain; rather, her jealousy reflects her deep desire to be with someone who loves her. In fact, she wants exactly what Cinderella has: Cinderella’s Prince, Cinderella’s marriage, Cinderella’s life, and her struggle to get those things is what drives the action.

The story begins when Anastasia, spying on Cinderella, realizes that the Fairy Godmother’s magic wand was the key to the strange events on the night of the ball. She manages to steal the wand and bring it back to her mother. Hoping to set wrong what once went right, the Stepmother uses the wand to turn back time to the day after the ball, when the King’s servants are still attempting to find a maiden who fits the glass slipper. Using magic again, the Stepmother makes the slipper fit Anastasia, before Cinderella gets a chance to try it on, and it is Anastasia, not Cinderella, who is whisked off to the palace to marry the prince.

As the plan to pass Anastasia off as Cinderella progresses, Anastasia’s mother must constantly intervene with the magic wand to keep the act going. Yet, with each intervention, Anastasia gets less and less enthusiastic about the idea. On the one hand, she is getting everything she wished for. At the same time, though, she comes to realize what getting her wish entails: she can marry the Prince, but it won’t be because he loves her; it will be because she fooled him into believing that she is Cinderella.

In the end, Anastasia is faced with a choice: the only way to get what Cinderella has is to forget about who she really is and become Cinderella. Through the power of the magic wand, it’s possible for her to get everything she thought she wanted at the beginning of the movie. The problem is, she doesn’t want to be Cinderella. She wants to be herself.

Overall, I must say that the film couldn’t be considered spectacular. The music isn’t great, and the story is sometimes absurd (for one thing, Cinderella is highly incompetent at retrieving wands). Nonetheless, the movie’s message more than makes up for its weaknesses. The film reminds viewers that nobody’s perfect, but it’s not being perfect that makes us valuable.


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