Just finished, more devoured, Ella Enchanted with tears rolling down my cheeks. Not sure how much is the book or my own emotions for my love. A good book is supposed to make you feel something and Gail Carson Levine definitely accomplished the goal. Ella Enchanted is a beautiful and unique fairy tale destined to empower any little girl who ever felt powerless in determining her destiny. Ella is a great role model for females of all ages.

I finished the novel in two short days much to my chagrin. Part of this was due to its size and reading level (great for middle school); also, part was the motivation to find out what happens. I have watched the movie repeatedly, but still the novel pushed me forward. That is the largest sign of good storytelling. If I had to point out one negative of the book, it would be part of the ending. Obviously the book is a play on the classic story of Cinderella, however the ending feels almost copycat reminiscent of the original tale. Nonetheless, the story is refreshing and beautifully told.

How did the movie line up against its original fiction?

Well, I have heard time and time again that the book and movie are not closely enough lined up. After reading the book, I would have to agree with the hard critics. The movie veers largely from the original literature. However, I also understand, at least in this case, why the movie makers veered from their predetermined course. The original fiction contains a lot of letters back and forth between Ella and Prince Char. Letters do not make for an engaging story on the big screen. Many of the adventures of Ella were indeed brought quite well to the big screen, though with more pizazz. Obviously, there was not nearly as much singing in the book.

I appreciate the amount of humor inlaid throughout the movie and I feel it really stays true to the feel of the book. The main relationships between the characters remain the same, as do their personalities. I appreciate the effort in the film to show a forming relationship between Ella and Char. In the book, they have a deep connection before the night of the balls. He knows her despite her disguise. I feel this makes Ella Enchanted a more believable fairy tale, even with magic.

The biggest complaint I have for the adaptation is the character of Mandy, the household fairy. In the book she is much more a mother to Ella and wise fairy. She can use magic very well, but chooses not to do so due to the rules of the fairy magic. In the movie, she seems almost ditzy. She even accidentally trapped her boyfriend in a book. I wish this character would have been more accurately portrayed.

Another large difference between the book and movie adaptation is the addition of Sir Edgar and Heston. There is no evil force threatening Prince Char in the book, except in Ella’s head. Ella thoroughly thinks through all of these different dangerous situations. She knows her gift of obedience could be used to harm Char if it was ever discovered by someone who wished Char or the kingdom harm. It is difficult to bring thoughts into a movie, so I believe the addition of Sir Edgar and Heston in the movie is a way to bring one of those situations to life.

Overall, I enjoyed both the movie and the book. I will be sure to pass it down to my daughter once she can read.

Please share what you thought about the movie and/or book.

As always, to support further adaptation exploration please

5 thoughts on “Ella Enchanted”

  1. I’m glad you liked the book! Ella is such a memorable character and this book is definitely my favorite Cinderella retelling.

    I did not like the way Mandy was portrayed in the movie, either. They made this amazing maternal figure almost flaky. That was annoying. Sigh.

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