Everybody loves a poll — especially those having to do with the TOP TEN or some equally arbitrary numerical list of cultural artifacts: we love to love, hate, debate, or negate these periodic pustules of public pomposity. At best, these polls provide some exposure to underrated and/or relatively obscure works of art; at worst, they are a marketing tool or an egotistical, pedantic badge of elitist morons who have to meet a publication deadline and don’t have the strength to write an original story. (That would be me.) Or they only confirm what an illiterate, tasteless mass of useless carbon-based bipedal material is the semi-domesticated consumer robot known as Man.
In yet another ridiculous, but mindlessly interesting poll, the BBC reports that according to 1,200 British children, the favorite fairy tale on Blair Island is Cinderella.
“Cinderella has been voted the most popular fairytale in a children’s poll, more than 300 years after the story was written.
The classic tale was chosen by 36% of the 1,200 children questioned by cinema chain UCI.
Sleeping Beauty was second, with Hansel and Gretel in third place. Cinderella tells the story of the daughter who defies her cruel stepmother to meet her prince at a royal ball.
The 17th Century writer Charles Perrault is widely credited as its author, however there are written examples of stories similar to Cinderella in Chinese manuscripts from as early as 850 A.D.
With second favorite Sleeping Beauty winning 17% of the vote, Cinderella topped the fairytale poll by a considerable margin.
UCI spokeswoman Lianne Butterfield said: “The classic fairytales are timeless stories that have relevance to our lives today.”
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2. Sleeping Beauty
3. Hansel and Gretel
5. Little Red Riding Hood
6. Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq
7. Al Queda–Saddam Hussein Connection
8. George W. Bush reported for National Guard duty
9. Princess Diana was a virgin and rose from her tomb on the third day
10. Richard Simmons’ Life Story
There are literally dozens of animated and live-action versions of the classic CINDERELLA story, most of which are not worth your time or effort, although every film student should be aware of the Warner Bros. 1938 cartoon starring the much-beloved, Tex Avery created cult figure known as Egghead. In this short, “Cinderella Meets Fella”, Egghead utters the famous line (repeated by many a stoned pot-head teenager in my small circle of friends during adolescence) “Cinderella! Cinderella! You’re driving me CRAAAAAZY!” Shit. Nevermind. You wouldn’t understand.
The most famous version of Cinderella is the 1950 animated film by Disney. With their trademark squeaky-clean makeover and cast of cutesy talking, singing animals, Disney turned an ancient R-rated tale into a boring, lifeless example of factory art, representing the decline of the Disney studios creativity and originality that began with that stinker, Sleeping Beauty.
Disney also made a sequel, Cinderella II, which was equally hideous.
For one of the funniest moments in film history, check out the 1960 Jerry Lewis version, “Cinderfella”. His entrance at the Ball — down the long staircase accompanied by a blasting, rip-roaring song by the Count Basie Orchestra — is a masterpiece of comedy and choreography.
Believe it or not, Drew Barrymore was in a great version of Cinderella, one of those “What really happened” stories that purports to tell the tale behind the tale of the Brothers Grimm version. This is a good film, and some of Anjelica Houston’s finest moments on celluloid. (Check it out. Y’know… for kids.)
The classic nature of the Cinderella story has shown up in a number of art forms, from bad Hollywood adaptations to Prokofiev’s fantastic ballet and Rossini’s famous and equally wonderful opera.
My favorite version of the classic tale is Rossini’s opera, La Cenerentola, starring the greatest voice on earth, Cecilia Bartoli. This opera became Bartoli’s ‘trademark’ — and her career ‘story’ was compared to Cinderella’s ad nauseum by moronic music critics, (aka marketing minions of Satan).
But nevermind that hype: this version was filmed at a performance by The Houston Grand Opera at the peak of Bartoli’s career — she’s accompanied by the perfect cast, the direction and design are perfect — and it’s well worth a look. Thank god someone had the foresight to capture one of the greatest singers ever in one of her greatest roles!
(re: Variety – I should also note that Cinderella even inspired a really bad metal/hair-god band from the musically forgettable 1980s. Their careers began at 11:45 p.m. and at midnight, they turned into has-been rats driving cabs in New York City on the deep night shift.)
For a book of classic fairy tales, one can’t go wrong by sticking with the original source, Charles Perrault. There are dozens of versions of his tales, some adapted (“Cut out that disturbing, mindless violence!”) — and some unedited for the adult reader/researcher. A version illustrated by artist Gustave Dore happens to be one of my favorites, but for the fanatic really interested in the many variations and differences in translations, my advice is to check out as many versions as possible. The variety of what began as a world-wide oral tale is astonishing.