Thematic Analysis of the Film the Barefoot Contessa

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Every little girl, at some point in their childhood, dreams of being whisked away from their mundane lives by a charming prince and have their happily ever after.[i] Fairy tales like Snow White, Rapunzel, Sleaping Beauty, and Cinderella are told in some form or another to practically everyone in the world, and with good reason. These stories combine the universal desire for a better life with the hope of finding true love. But the fairy tales always end with the prince and newfound princess getting married, whereas in reality, that is just the beginning. The problem with fairy tales is not that they romanticize romanticism, but that they end with the assumption that everyone, aside from the villain, lives happily ever after.

The story of Cinderella is a nearly universal tale made all the more famous by Walt Disney’s animated film[ii]. Cinderella is left alone in the world, after her father’s untimely death, with a step-mother and step-sisters who don’t love or want her. Treating her like a servant instead of a member of the family, her step-family even refuses to call her by her name, instead choosing a moniker equating her with the dirt, ash, and cinders that they force her to clean up. With the help of her Fairy Godmother, Cinderella as a chance encounter with the prince, who is immediately taken with her. Due to the nature of the magic at work, Cinderella must leave the prince abruptly, leaving behind only one of her shoes, a glass slipper, as a clue to the prince can use to find her. Of course, the prince does find her, using the shoe to confirm her identity, they are married, and live happily ever after. But in truth, not much is really known about the prince, and it’s never clear if Cinderella actually has the opportunity to get to know her future husband before they’re married. As the story ends so abruptly after Cinderella’s marriage to the prince, it is just assumed that their lives together were long and happy. But in reality, it is...
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