the fairy tale Cinderella. It is directed by Andy Tennant and stars Drew Barrymore, Anjelica Huston, and Dougray Scott. The screenplay is written by Tennant, Susannah Grant, and Rick Parks. The original music score is composed by George Fenton. The film's closing theme song "Put Your Arms Around Me" is performed by the rock band Texas.
The usual pantomime and comic/supernatural elements are removed and the story is instead treated as historical fiction, set in Renaissance-era France. It is often seen as a modern,post-feminism interpretation of the Cinderella story.
In the 19th century, a Grande Dame (Jeanne Moreau) summons The Brothers Grimm (Joerg Stadler and Andy Henderson) to her palace, where the brothers discuss their interpretation of the Cinderella story and notice a painting displayed in the room. The Grande Dame shows the brothers a glass slipper and tells them the story of Danielle de Barbarac.
In 16th-century France, Auguste de Barbarac (Jeroen Krabbé) is a widower and the father of eight-year-old Danielle (Anna Maguire). Auguste marries Rodmilla de Ghent (Anjelica Huston), a wealthy baroness with two daughters, Marguerite and Jacqueline (Elizabeth Earl and Alex Pooley). Later that evening, Auguste gives Danielle a copy of Thomas More'sUtopia. The next morning, before dying of a heart attack just as Auguste leaves for business, his last words are directed to Danielle, which causes Rodmilla to envy Danielle and mistreat her for the next ten years. By the time Danielle (Drew Barrymore) is eighteen, the estate has fallen into decline. The Baroness is not interested in farming, has sold off many of the estate's servants to pay her taxes and wishes to get back to the Royal Court. Meanwhile, Danielle serves her stepsisters, Marguerite (Megan Dodds), and Jacqueline (Melanie Lynskey) in her home. Marguerite is spoiled, cruel, bad tempered and Rodmilla's favorite, while Jacqueline is kind but picked on by her mother and sister.
One morning Danielle sees a man stealing her father's horse and unseats him with an apple until she recognizes he is Prince Henry (Dougray Scott). Henry buys her silence with gold because King Francis (Timothy West) and Queen Marie (Judy Parfitt) tell Henry that he must wed the Spanish Princess, Gabriella. However, Henry's escape is foiled when he encounters gypsies robbing Leonardo da Vinci (Patrick Godfrey). Henry chases the thief and returns the Mona Lisa to da Vinci. Meanwhile, Danielle dresses as a noblewoman and leaves to buy back Maurice (Walter Sparrow), whom the Baroness has sold to pay her debts. Henry overhears Danielle argue with the Cargomaster (Al Ashton) and orders Maurice's release. Henry begs for Danielle’s name but she lies and gives Henry the name of her mother, who died giving birth to Danielle. That night King Francis tells Henry that he is throwing a masquerade ball in honor of Da Vinci. At The ball Henry must choose a bride or wed Gabriella.
While spending time with her friend, Gustave (Lee Ingleby), Henry rides up and asks for directions and Gustave ends up telling Henry where Danielle lives. After coming out of hiding, Danielle runs to her house, quickly changes, and spends the day with Henry where they are ambushed by gypsies. Danielle resolves the issue and they share their first kiss. The next morning, Danielle catches Rodmilla and Marguerite stealing her mother's dress and slippers for Marguerite to wear to the ball. After Marguerite insults Danielle about her mother's death, Danielle punches Marguerite in the face and chases her until Marguerite threatens to throw Utopia into the fireplace. Danielle returns her mother's slippers to Rodmilla in exchange for the book, but Marguerite burns it in the fire anyway out of spite. After Danielle is whipped, Jacqueline tends to her wounds and condemns Marguerite for insulting Danielle's mother.
During a conversation with Queen Marie, Rodmilla discovers that Danielle is the Countess that Henry has been spending time with and tells the Queen that Danielle is engaged. Rodmilla confronts Danielle and locks her in the pantry until Gustave asks Da Vinci for help. Da Vinci helps free Danielle and makes her a pair of wings with her mother's dress and slippers for the ball. When Danielle arrives at the ball, Rodmilla exposes her identity in front of Henry. Danielle tries to explain, but Henry angrily rejects her for her deception, causing her to run off in tears. Da Vinci finds Danielle's slipper that she lost when fleeing the castle. He angrily reprimands Henry for his attitude, leaving him with the slipper.
Henry decides to wed Gabriella, but after seeing how unhappy Gabriella is and realizing he still retains feelings for Danielle, calls the wedding off. Henry looks for Danielle but finds that Rodmilla sold her to landowner, Pierre le Pieu (Richard O'Brien). After Pierre makes sexual advances towards Danielle, she cuts Pierre's face with his own dagger, and threatens to dismember and castrate him with it and one of his swords. Pierre gives Danielle the key to her shackles. Henry arrives as Danielle leaves Pierre's mansion. He apologizes and proposes to Danielle by placing the glass slipper on her foot.
Laurent, the Captain of the Guard is sent to retrieve Rodmilla and her daughters and bring them to the Royal Court "in style". King Francis then accuses Rodmilla of lying to Queen Marie about Danielle. Rodmilla admits that she may have gotten carried away and Marguerite pathetically denies involvement claiming to be a victim, causing the king to demand silence. Queen Marie strips Rodmilla of her title and threatens to exile her and Marguerite to the Americas if no one speaks for them. At the last minute, Danielle is introduced as Henry's wife and wishes Rodmilla and Marguerite the same courtesy they had shown her. Rodmilla and Marguerite are sentenced to work as royal laundry maids for the rest of their lives. Jacqueline is spared and has fallen in love with Laurent. After Da Vinci gives Henry and Danielle a painting, they share a kiss. The Grande Dame informs The Brothers Grimm that Danielle was her great-great-grandmother. As a result, although Danielle and Henry lived happily ever after, the point is that they lived.
- Drew Barrymore as Danielle de Barbarac / Comtesse Nicole de Lancret
- Anna Maguire as 8-year-old Danielle
- Anjelica Huston as Baroness Rodmilla de Ghent
- Dougray Scott as Prince Henry
- Megan Dodds as Marguerite de Ghent
- Elizabeth Earl as young Marguerite
- Melanie Lynskey as Jacqueline de Ghent
- Alex Pooley as young Jacqueline
- Patrick Godfrey as Leonardo da Vinci
- Timothy West as King Francis
- Judy Parfitt as Queen Marie
- Richard O'Brien as Pierre le Pieu
- Jeroen Krabbé as Auguste de Barbarac
- Lee Ingleby as Gustave
- Ricki Cuttell as young Gustave
- Matyelok Gibbs as Louise
- Kate Lansbury as Paulette
- Walter Sparrow as Maurice
- Toby Jones as Royal Page
- Al Ashton as Cargomaster
- Peter Gunn as Captain Laurent
- Jeanne Moreau as Grande Dame
- Joerg Stadler as Wilhelm Grimm
- Andy Henderson as Jacob Grimm
- Christian Marc as the King of Spain
- Elvira Stevenson as the Queen of Spain
- Susan Field as Laundry Supervisor