4 December 2016

THREE WISHES FOR CINDERELLA. (1973) A GORGEOUS CZECH FAIRYTALE REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS.



THREE WISHES FOR CINDERELLA. (1973) DIRECTED BY VACLAV VORLICEK.
STARRING LIBUSE SAFRANKOVA, PAVEL TRAVNICEK, CAROLA BRAUNBOCK, DANIELA HLAVACOVA, ROLF HOPPE, KARIN LESCH AND VLADIMIR MENSIK.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I do love a nice fairytale, in common I'm guessing with every other woman ever born, ever. As a matter of fact, I'm still sitting here patiently waiting for the fairytale ending to my own particular story. I've been waiting a while now.

Maybe they're still trying to perfect the prototype of The Prince Charming For Single Moms Past Their First Flush Of Youth With A Pretty Rubbish Track Record When It Comes To Romance, haha. But they'll get it right one day. One day. I'm counting on it.

Everyone knows the story of Cinderella, right? She's the beautiful young lady whose beloved father selfishly dies and leaves her to the tender mercies of her pulchritudinously-challenged Stepmom and her piggish daughters, every last one of whom is jealous of the pretty Cinders.

So-called, by the way, because she's put to work as a lowly housemaid and spends her days covered in ash and soot from the mucky fireplaces she has to sweep out. Poor Cinderella!

Anyway, a fabulous ball is held at the castle of the local Prince Charming. Stepmom and her ugly daughters are- ahem- creaming themselves at the thought of getting close to the stinking-rich eligible bachelor that is the Prince. It's the career opportunity of a lifetime for every woman in the whole district who's under fifty.

The lowly Cinders goes to the ball too, however, courtesy of a supernatural 'Fairy Godmother,' and steals the show- and the Prince- right out from under the porcine snouts of her relatives-by-marriage. And the rest, as they say, is history...

CINDERELLA is a story that has had so many re-tellings, both in film and written form, that we fancy we know it pretty well by now. This version we're talking about today is the Czech version by acclaimed Czech director Vaclav Vorlicek. 

He based his film upon the writings of folklorist Bozena Nemcova, the woman who is widely regarded as 'the Mother of Czech literature.'

Her definitive Czech version of the story first appeared in her 1862 collection of NATIONAL STORIES AND LEGENDS. Madame Nemcova in turn based her story on an even older version of the tale, believe it or not.

Yes, there are many versions of the beautiful little fairytale with the happy ending. In fact, it's estimated that there are as many as 350 overall, existing in all the different languages of the world and with each country chucking in a few extra ingredients for added flavour. Makes it sound like a yummy stew, doesn't it? Just the job for these cold winter nights.

Vaclav Vorlicek introduces us to a heroine who is both beautiful and feisty, which is why this particular version of the story is so beloved of the feminists. There's not much Cinders can do about being stuck with Stepmom and her (in this version) one Ugly Stepsister (who's actually not that ugly and the actress playing her is in fact pregnant, so she's not even really fat either, haha!), but she does talk back to them and she constantly stands up for herself, unlike previously more passive Cinderellas.

She shows them by her little rebellions that she's someone to be reckoned with, her lowly position in the pecking order notwithstanding. And, speaking of 'pecking orders,' Cinderella is a virtual Queen of the Birds in this film.

Birds adore her and do her bidding, which is handy because she has a million fiddly jobs to do that the birds can really help her out with, and a friendly Owl (along with three magic hazelnuts) even takes the place of the more traditional Fairy Godmother.

She's a regular Francis of Assisi where animals in general are concerned, in fact. Dogs and horses all love her, and her taming of the Prince's own wild and untameable horse is the way in which she first gets his attention. 

She also stuns and impresses him with her formidable hunting abilities (she's incognito at the time) so that, by the time she eventually turns up at his famous ball looking utterly ravishing, he's already more than half in love with her already, if he but knew it.

The ball intended to find the Prince a wife is an hilarious affair. The King is determined that his flighty son will straighten up and fly right, as they say in America, and he thinks that forcing the young fella to take a wife will do the trick and put manners on him.

The women who turn up to the ball are all as homely as f**k, to put it plainly. Pun intended, haha. I wondered how they phrased the notice for their casting call? 'Only porkers need apply...!' The feminists will surely kill me for real now...

The relationship between the King and Queen, real-life friends and co-workers, is utterly believable and funny to watch. It may be several hundred years ago in a tiny Czech village populated mainly with peasants, but they could be parents from today, the way they worry about their wayward son's future and want to see him settled.

Dad attempts to take charge of discipline, while a loving and nurturing Mom softens any blows with her gentle personality and her love for her big, handsome son. The Prince himself is not a namby-pamby wretch, either.

He's attractive, athletic, active and fun-loving and a feisty, spirited wife could well be the making of him. In any case, we'll have to see, won't we, dear readers...?

A lively, upbeat musical score, a cornucopia of brightly-coloured traditional costumes and a veritable Winter Wonderland of snow all combine to make this film the quaintest and most charming production you'll have seen in many a long day, I promise you.

THREE WISHES FOR CINDERELLA was a big box-office success when it was first released. To this day, it's a Christmas favourite on Czech TV (like Willy Wonka or Oliver! The Musical for us here in Ireland!) and it furthered the careers of many of its stars. It has a big cult following now and everything.

Luckily for us, it's on release (DVD) in its original Czech version on Dec. 5th 2016 from a wonderful company called SECOND RUN.

It comes with a free booklet which features a new essay by fantasy film critic and historian Tim Lucas, but it also contains some gorgeous full colour/black-and-white photos from the film.

I watched the film essay by writer, editor and film historian Michael Brooke (he talks super-fast, so you'll have to keep up!) myself and it was most enjoyable, containing many fascinating little snippets of information about the Czech film industry, something I really want to delve into a bit deeper now thanks to this marvellous film.

Right, well, you guys go on off now and buy that, while I just sit here and continue to wait for my Prince Charming, who surely is long overdue by this stage. I don't mind waiting a bit, though. It'll just be for a bit longer, I'm sure.................. Zzzzzz.....


AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

 You can contact Sandra at:


http://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com







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