Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Tommy O'Haver|
|Based on|| Ella Enchanted |
by Gail Carson Levine
|Music by||Nick Glennie-Smith|
|Cinematography||John de Borman|
|Edited by||Masahiro Hirakubo|
|Distributed by||Miramax Films|
|Box office||$27.4 million|
Ella Enchanted is a 2004 American fantasy romantic comedy film directed by Tommy O'Haver and written by Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith loosely based on Gail Carson Levine's 1997 novel of the same name. Starring Anne Hathaway and Hugh Dancy, the film plays with the usual fairy tale genre.
The film is a co-production between companies in the United States, Ireland, and the United Kingdom.
In the kingdom of Lamia, baby Ella of Frell is given the "gift" of obedience by misguided and obnoxious fairy godmother, Lucinda Perriweather; Ella is magically compelled to instantly obey any command she is given. On her deathbed, Ella's mother, Lady Eleanor, warns her not to tell anyone about the gift, for fear someone might use it to exploit Ella. Only Mandy, the household fairy, knows the secret.
Years later, Ella's father, Sir Peter, marries wealthy socialite, Dame Olga, who dislikes Ella. Her spoiled daughters, Hattie and Olive, discover Ella's obedience and use it to humiliate her. Ella stumbles upon Prince "Char" Charmont, pursued by his besotted fan club, who invites her to his coronation ball, but Olga intercepts the invitation. Jealous, Hattie and Olive force Ella to cut ties with her best friend, Areida.
Ella resolves to find Lucinda to undo her gift. Mandy lends Ella her boyfriend, Benny, whom she accidentally transformed into a magic book. Learning that Lucinda is attending a wedding in Giantville, Ella leaves home to find her.
On her journey, Ella rescues Slannen, an elf who wants to be a lawyer rather than be forced to be an entertainer. They are captured by ogres, lead by Nish, who intend to eat them, but are rescued by Prince Charmont. He joins them as he intends to avenge the death of his father, King Florian, and Ella opens his eyes to the cruelty of the laws oppressing elves and giants enacted by Char’s paternal uncle, Sir Edgar, the acting ruler.
They discover Lucinda has already left, and Char suggests visiting the castle’s hall of records to find her faster, which is overheard by Edgar's snake, Heston. After Ella performs Queen's "Somebody to Love" for the wedding guests, she and Char begin to fall in love.
At the castle, Edgar learns of Ella's gift from her stepsisters. Knowing his nephew is in love with her, Edgar orders Ella to murder Char at midnight when he inevitably proposes to her at the coronation ball, and to keep this plan secret. Edgar reveals that he murdered Char's father, and the prince’s death will make Edgar king. Ella writes Char a letter, saying she must leave but cannot explain why. She has Slannen chain her to a tree, hoping to wait out Edgar's command, while Slannen recruits more elves and giants to protect Char.
As night falls, Lucinda appears and Ella begs her to take back her gift. Offended, Lucinda insists that Ella remove the gift herself, unchains her, and gives her a fancy dress. Forced back to the castle, Ella stumbles into the ball. Char whisks her away to a secret hall of mirrors where he proposes. As Ella is about to stab Char, she sees her reflection and commands herself to no longer be obedient, freeing herself from the gift. Char notices the dagger, and Edgar has Ella arrested before she can explain herself.
Benny, who was left in the hall of records and thrown out, is found by Slannen. Benny reveals Ella in the dungeon, and Slannen sneaks into the castle along with a band of elves, giants, and ogres, and frees her. Benny shows that Edgar has poisoned Char's crown, intending to kill him at his coronation.
As Char is about to be crowned, Ella and the others crash the ceremony and a brawl with Edgar's soldiers ensues. In the scuffle, Mandy manages to turn Benny human again. As Char and Ella fight off the guards together, she confesses her love for him, and reveals Edgar's plot and his murder of Char's father, which Edgar denies. Heston almost fatally bites Char, but is kicked away by Ella and trampled by Char's fan club; Char takes this as evidence of his uncle's guilt. Edgar then denounces the prince, and attempts to proclaim himself king, but unknowingly puts on the poisoned crown and collapses.
Soon after, Char and Ella are married, much to the envy of Ella's stepsisters; and Char toasts to a new era of equality among all citizens of the kingdom. Edgar is revealed to still be alive, but physically and cognitively impaired. The cast performs a final dance number of "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" by Elton John and Kiki Dee before the newlyweds ride off on their honeymoon.
Hathaway, who first read the book when she was 16, says that there was originally a version of the script that was much closer to the book but that it didn't work as a film; she added that she prefers the way the movie actually turned out because it "makes fun of itself for being a fairy tale."Levine states that the film is "so different from the book that it's hard to compare them," noting the addition of new characters such as Sir Edgar and Heston, and suggested "regarding the movie as a separate creative act".
Hathaway did her own singing in the film.
Jimi Mistry, a British actor of Indian descent, said that he enjoyed playing a talking book in the film because it offered him the opportunity to do something different from his other roles. "You can't get less Indian than a talking book, and an American talking book, so it was great," he said.
Filming took place in Ireland at Ardmore Studios and on location in Wicklow.Locations included Luggala Estate, Killruddery House and Garden, and Kiltegan.
Miramax Films released the film on April 9, 2004.
Ella Enchanted opened on April 9, 2004 and earned $6,169,030 in its opening weekend, ranking number nine at the domestic box office.At the end of its run, the film grossed $22,918,387 domestically and $4,470,380 overseas for a worldwide total of $27,388,767.
The film received mixed reviews from critics. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes holds a 50% score based on 115 reviews with an average rating of 5.6/10. The site's consensus reads: "Hathaway is a charming heroine, but the simple storyline gets overwhelmed by silly gimmickry."On Metacritic, the film has a 53 out of 100 rating based on 30 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
Chicago Sun-Times critic Roger Ebert gave the film 3.5 stars out of 4, praising it as "the best family film so far this year" (April 9, 2004).
The soundtrack was released April 6, 2004 by Hollywood Records and features Kelly Clarkson's cover of Aretha Franklin's "Respect" along with "Somebody to Love" by Queen and "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" by Elton John and Kiki Dee, both as covered by Hathaway and Jesse McCartney.
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