Gender Roles – Women
Gender Roles - Women: 4 Stars
Unlike other versions of Cinderella, Ella of Frell does not spend her time appeasing her ungrateful stepsisters or dreaming of attending a royal ball in a beautiful gown. Her ambitions are much grander. She aims to alleviate the oppression of the ogres and giants around her, and to break the vicious curse that’s been placed on her. Ella doesn’t wait for her fairy godmother to appear out of nowhere and grant her wishes, she sets out on her own to confront Lucinda. And the moment the opportunity presents itself, she finds a way to confront the local Prince on his uncle’s abusive politics.
We eventually see how interconnected Ella’s goals are when she argues with Prince Char that he has a responsibility to use his position to change the laws. She tells him that “no one should be forced to do something they don’t want to do. Take it from someone who knows.” Ella’s simple statement is a stark reminder that unfair laws can be as oppressive as powerful spells, and that everyone is deserving of equality and freedom.
Plot: 4 Stars (Spoilers)
Ella Enchanted not only adds an intriguing twist that explains her perplexing obedience, but it also gives her the opportunity to set out on a journey and undo the wrong that was done to her. She eventually gets the chance when Prince Char’s uncle, Edgar, orders her to kill Char on the night of his coronation. Ella has no choice but to obey and despite taking drastic measures to defy the curse, she ultimately finds herself in a garden alone with Char, prepared to plunge a dagger into his heart. When Ella remembers her mother’s final words to her, “what’s inside you is stronger than any spell,” she finally finds the strength to free herself from Lucinda’s spell, and save Char’s life.
Character Development: 5 Stars
Despite her unfortunate gift, Ella of Frell is a remarkably confident and empowered young woman. As a young girl, she sticks up for her classmate, Areida, who is being tormented by the other girls due to her ethnicity. Ella believes strongly in equality, not just between human races, but for all creatures - including ogres, elves and giants. She is frustrated with the segregation that has been imposed by the late king's brother, Edgar, and is vocal about her complaints, engaging in debates and protests as the other women are thoughtlessly fawning over the handsome Prince Char.
Ella doesn't appreciate how dangerous Lucinda's gift is until her stepsister Hattie begins to use it against her. Despite the fact that she's forced to comply with Hattie's demands, she doesn't allow herself to be victimized by Hattie or her curse for long. As soon as things escalate from simple embarrassment to cruelty, she makes plans to reverse Lucinda's power over her. And by the end of the film, Ella finds that she had the power to defeat the spell all along. To be herself and make her own decisions.
Love: 4 Stars
Ella does fall in love with the handsome prince that she initially believed to be ignorant and vain. She opens his eyes to the plight of his subjects and sets him up to be the sort of king that she can be proud of. Ella's "gift" makes her exceptionally vulnerable to Char's advances, and he wins us over when he shows us that he doesn't want her obedience, but her love. One of the more tender moments between Char and Ella is during the giants' wedding, when Char tells Ella to stay with him. She reluctantly agrees, and he realizes that she is only responding to his orders. Char is quick to correct himself, saying that, of course, she is free to leave, but that he'd like it if she stayed. This simple act of respect indicates that there is more to Char than the smug prince that Ella ran into at the beginning of the film.
Room for Improvement:
Gender Roles – Men
Self-Esteem and Body Image
Gender Roles - Men: 2 Stars
Prince Char fulfills the role of a typical fairy tale prince. He is brash and egotistical at the outset, bragging about the women who swoon over him and dashing to Ella’s rescue at every opportunity. Over time we start to see a more vulnerable side of him, one that is concerned about becoming king and making his father proud. But these sincere moments are too few and subtle to rescue him from his mediocre beginnings. In general, Char is a likable character with a good heart, but he is also formulaic and predictable.
Self-Esteem and Body Image: 3 Stars
Ella Enchanted includes a variety of female characters of different ages and body types. Ella, of course, is conventionally beautiful, but she shares some screen time with women like Lucinda and Areida who provide some diversity to the cast. In addition, Ella’s mother looks and feels like a real mother, rather than a heavily made-up, ageless beauty. Ella Enchanted even creates an unlikely romance between a tall blonde giant and a short elf named Slannen, suggesting that height and size are irrelevant factors when it comes to love.
It’s unfortunate that this clever version of Cinderella still insists on pitting a pair of “ugly” stepsisters against Ella’s flawless beauty. It’s fairly clear that Prince Char finds Ella’s personality more attractive than Hattie’s. The message would only be that much more powerful if Hattie were as striking as Ella. If Char dismissed her not because she is homely, but because of her vapid and obnoxious self.
Ella Enchanted is a Cinderella story with a unique twist. In this version, "Ella" was cursed at birth when her fairy godmother, Lucinda, gave her the gift of obedience. Ella grows up into a strong-willed, politically active young woman, who unfortunately cannot help but obey when others give her orders. After a particularly cruel prank, Ella sets off to find Lucinda and convince her to take back her “gift.” On her way, she meets the future king, Prince Char, and enlightens him on some of injustices that are happening around the kingdom.
Kelly is a labor law