What have the Norwegians done to Cinderella?
My best friend, Eileen Cho’an Sterr, dressed up as Cinderella this year and her brother went as Gus, her pudgy little mouse help-mate. Eileen and I are four years old when we are together. The rest of the time she remains four and I revert to 73. Since we are both Cinderella experts, we eagerly sat down together to evaluate a Norse version of “Cinderella” told from a different perspective. Eileen corrects me – “a confusing perspective.”
The first goal of the Norwegian version is to make Cinderella the heroine of her own life. If anyone is going to save her, it is Cinderella herself who must rally her own spirit to overcome her own situation. Eileen is enthusiastically supportive of that.
Here are the similarities: the names, a biased stepmother, a handsome prince, a beautiful Cinderella, glass slippers, and a ball. Eileen is on board.
Here are the dissimilarities: only one stepsister, seemingly real-life robust rats instead of sweet-talking mice, and a villager who has sympathy for Cinderella. Furthermore, Cinderella has exceptional skill with a bow and arrow and is a crack horseback rider. In addition, the prince has two comic relief friends who have their own romance going. Eileen sees these variations as confusing distractions from the plot, which she is earnestly trying to follow.
I see what the Norwegians are doing. They are trying to create an inclusive story that allows Cinderella to overcome those who bully her. At the same time, while painting Cinderella as a part of the oppressed in society, they bring in the gay fumble-bums who are cohorts of the prince. It doesn’t really work if the Norske message of equality and acceptance is to be played out. Why make the gay guys so incompetent?
Maybe it is too many writers! Seven! Their brave and progressive agenda comes across jumbled and miscalculated. Eileen wonders, where did the fight with the step-mother on the bridge come from? Who is buried in the snow, all alone, and not in a cemetery? Why does the prince want to hunt animals?
I love the icy winter scenery. I love the music, the gumption of Astrid S (a Norwegian pop star, by the way) as Cinderella, but wonder why she wasn’t allowed to sing. I loved the set designs and the idea of the three wishes.
I see the Norwegians wanted to create a stronger female prototype and be more inclusive in male stereotyping, but for my best friend, the film was just too much Norwegian imposition on a romance of magic that at its original core was kindness – kindness to all creatures. That is the quality that makes a true princess and brings happiness. The Norwegians got so busy with with being progressive that they missed the central theme.
Director: Cecilie A. Mosli
Writers: Anna Bache-Wiig, Karsten Fullu, Kamilla Krogsveen, Bozena Nemcova (short story), Frantisek Pavlicek (original screenplay, “Tri orisky pro Popelku”), Siv Rajenddram Eliassen and Vaclav Vorlicek.
Cast: Astrid S, Cengiz Al, and Ellen Dorrit Petersen
Music: Gaute Storaas
Cinematography: Trond Tonder
Editing: Perry Eriksen and Jens Christian Fodstad
Release: Oct. 18, 2022 (US)
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