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My Top 10 Cinderella Media Adaptations

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Yeah, I know from my last piece I gave grief on too many Cinderella media adaptations. However, I must admit I do have a personal top ten favorite Cinderella story list. 

Let me break it down for ya.

  1. Ever After: A Cinderella Story (1998)

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve rewatched this film. Drew Barrymore’s Cinderella, or in this film, Danielle de Barbarac is the top standard of a modern fairy tale heroine. She’s not waiting for her prince charming, far from it, she’s only trying to make a good life for herself and the people she loves. Although she does get the guy in the end, Danielle got her happy ending not by wishing or fairy godmothers, but through kindness, courage, and an unbreakable spirit that neither life nor her unbearable stepmother could crack. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that she’s got a mean right hook for her insufferable stepsister Marguerite.

  1. A Cinderella Story (2004)

Growing up, I’ve always loved watching Hilary Duff, whether in her music videos or as the beloved Disney Channel protagonist, Lizzie McGuire. So when she first appeared as Sam Montgomery (aka Cinderella), I was immediately hooked! Seeing Sam’s growth throughout the story was extremely empowering, as she not only stood up to her fake-breasted salmon obsessed stepmom, but she stood firm on who she is and tells it off to the well-meaning, but sometimes cowardly Austin Ames (aka Prince Charming). Sam’s story proves that through hard work and a strong belief in yourself, you’ll be able to reach your happy ending.

  1. Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella (1997)

Okay, when I first saw this version I had zero idea that it was based on the original musical made in the late 50’s, and frankly… I wasn’t missing much. I was enchanted in seeing the musical story unfold, especially from watching Brandy’s Cinderella, and the late Whitney Houston’s Fairy Godmother. Next to Paolo Montalban’s Prince Christopher, Brandy and Whitney’s onscreen dynamic is too fantastic to ignore, because this Cinderella/Fairy Godmother duo wasn’t solely about getting ready for a ball, it also focused on women empowering women in impossible times. Plus, hearing them singing together (on repeat) was music to my ears!

  1. Rags (2012)

For me, this was the first Cinderella film where the gender roles are reversed. It was fascinating to see the Cinderella role playing through the male gaze, especially as by Max Schneider—talk about a cutie! In this adaptation, he plays Charlie Prince, an aspiring musician working hard under the thumb of his greedy stepfather and not so talented step brothers in order to follow his dreams. Through determination and a strong circle of loved ones, Charlie was able to achieve his dreams and did so by being his true self. As an added bonus, next to Max, this film is filled with fan favorite Nickelodeon stars like Keke Palmer, Drake Bell, and Avan Jogia.

  1. Cinderella (2021)

If you like cheesy feel-good movies like me, then you’re going to love Camila Cabello’s Cinderella. Does the world really need another Cinderella movie musical? It’s debatable for sure, but Cabello’s turn on the classic heroine was definitely one of the highlights in 2021. Like some of the other modern movie iterations, Ella/Cinderella isn’t waiting for a prince. Instead she’s working towards her dream of being a famous fashion designer and the obstacles in her way aren’t only her step-family. Ella’s bigger challenge in the film is far harder…sexism. This real-life issue plays out genuinely well not only for the main protagonist, but the other female characters such as Minnie Driver’s Queen Beatrice, Tallulah Greive’s Princess Gwen, and Idina Menzel’s Vivian (The Step-Mother). There’s even an original feminist anthem written by Idina Menzel herself and co-written by Laura Veltz!

  1. Ella Enchanted (2004)

I know that this Gail Carson book to movie adaptation wasn’t every book fans favorite, but hey, it’s got Anne Hathaway, a solid retelling of the classic tale, and it’s hilarious as heck! Once again, there’s an Ella/Cinderella who’s not looking for a prince charming, although Hugh Dancy’s Prince Char is very nice. This girl is fighting for her happy ending by breaking an obedience spell that was placed on her by a well-meaning, but stupid, fairy godmother. Action, romantic-comedy, and Hathaway singing Queen’s Somebody to Love? You can count on me to rewatch this underrated gem.

  1. Another Cinderella Story: Dancing Ever After (2008)

As the title says, this 2008 film is yet another Cinderella retelling that takes its center stage on the dance floor with Selena Gomez in the spotlight. Gomez’s Cinderella, Mary Santiago, has one goal: to escape her unbearable step-family and go to the best dance school to achieve her dream as a professional dancer. It’s always a treat to see Selena Gomez on the screen, and I think we can all agree that next to Hilary Duff, she was made to play a princess… a cool, skateboarding, dancing princess! She couldn’t do this on her own, however, not without her close friends—a handsomely talented superstar with a heart of gold played by Drew Seeley—and the willingness to never give up.

  1. Happily N’Ever After (2006)

So, out of all the Cinderella adaptations on this list, I don’t blame you if you hadn’t heard or remembered this film retelling. This mid-2000’s CGI animated film may have not received that much praise from critics and audiences, but for me this was an enjoyably fun film. Sarah Michelle Gellar’s Ella/Cinderella started off as the typical helpless dream girl who’s one dream is to meet and marry the prince. However, after her story got magically twisted by her stepmother Frieda, she goes off on an emotional journey to figure out what and whom she truly wants for her life while saving the fairytale kingdom. Plus, I think so far she’s the only other Cinderella portrayed with a short pixie cut, and that’s a refreshing sight to see in a famed fairytale character.

  1.  Cinderella (2015)

This live-action adaptation of the OG 1950’s film pays tribute to the original tale while giving it a lot more depth to its characters, which is one of the big reasons I adore this retold tale. Lady Tremaine has a tragic backstory that makes audiences understand better her bitterness towards Ella/Cinderella. The Duke is a crafty secondary villain with sinister attempts. And, of course, there’s Lily James’s Ella/Cinderella, who lost her beloved parents and tries to honor her late mother’s promise while struggling to make a good life for herself. In the end, Ella/Cinderella was able to overcome her stepmother’s abuse by staying true to herself,  not by magic, but by courage and kindness.

  1. Cinderella (1950)

Who could ever forget this classic Disney animated princess? I can confidently say the chance of that is ZERO! Ilene Woods’s Cinderella will forever be ingrained in the hearts and minds of dreamers alike. Though her dreams in the film are not as big as the other Cinderella’s dreams on this list, she still made an impact on the importance of dreams and never giving up even when life gets hard. That fact is proven even more when Disney expanded her story in two sequels, and later of course the live-action film. This Cindy walked in her glass slippers so that the other Cinderellas on this list could run.

Well, that’s all I have to say about my favorite top 10 Cinderella media adaptations. What are yours?

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Meaghan Torres

Kutztown '23

My name is Meaghan Xenia Alexandra Torres, I like to be called Alex. I’m a Christian, Autistic, & I’m studying for writing and art in Kutztown. I enjoy movies, books, tv shows, chocolate, swimming, writing, art, and spending time with my family & friends
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