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Cinderella (1997 film) facts for kids

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Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella
Home video promotional poster, featuring Houston and Brandy as their respective characters.
Genre Musical
Based on
Cinderella by Oscar Hammerstein II
Written by Robert L. Freedman
Directed by Robert Iscove
Starring Whitney Houston
Jason Alexander
Whoopi Goldberg
Bernadette Peters
Veanne Cox
Natalie Desselle
Victor Garber
Paolo Montalban
Composer(s) Richard Rodgers
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
Executive producer(s) Whitney Houston
Debra Martin Chase
Craig Zadan
Neil Meron
David R. Ginsburg
Producer(s) Mike Moder
Chris Montan
Robyn Crawford (associate producer )
Paula S. Warner (associate producer)
Cinematography Ralf D. Bode
Editor(s) Casey O. Rohrs
Tanya M. Swerling
Running time 88 minutes
Production company(s) Walt Disney Television
BrownHouse Productions
Storyline Entertainment
Distributor Buena Vista Television
Budget $12 million
Original network ABC
Original release November 2, 1997 (1997-11-02)

Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella (also known as simply Cinderella) is a 1997 American musical fantasy television film produced by Walt Disney Television, directed by Robert Iscove and written by Robert L. Freedman. Based on the French fairy tale by Charles Perrault, the film is the second remake and third version of Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical, which originally aired on television in 1957. Adapted from Oscar Hammerstein II's book, Freedman modernized the script to appeal to more contemporary audiences by updating its themes, particularly re-writing its main character into a stronger heroine. Co-produced by Whitney Houston, who also appears as Cinderella's Fairy Godmother, the film stars Brandy in the titular role and features a racially diverse cast consisting of Jason Alexander, Whoopi Goldberg, Bernadette Peters, Veanne Cox, Natalie Desselle, Victor Garber and Paolo Montalban.

Following the success of the 1993 television adaptation of the stage musical Gypsy (1959), Houston approached Gypsy's producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron about starring in a remake of Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella for CBS. However, development was delayed for several years, during which time the network grew disinterested in the project. By the time the film was greenlit by Disney for ABC, Houston felt that she had outgrown the title role, which she offered to Brandy instead. The decision to use a color-blind casting approach originated among the producers to reflect how society had evolved by the 1990s, with Brandy becoming the first Black actress to portray Cinderella on screen. Among the most significant changes made to the musical, several songs from other Rodgers and Hammerstein productions were interpolated into the film to augment its score. With a production budget of $12 million, Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella ranks among the most expensive television films ever made.

Heavily promoted to re-launch the anthology series The Wonderful World of Disney, Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella premiered on ABC on November 2, 1997 to mixed reviews from critics. While most reviewers praised the film's costumes, sets and supporting cast, particularly Peters, Alexander and Goldberg, television critics were divided over Brandy and Houston's performances, as well as Disney's more feminist approach to Brandy's character. Cinderella proved a major ratings success, originally airing to 60 million viewers and establishing itself as the most-watched television musical in decades, earning ABC its highest Sunday-night ratings in 10 years. Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella was nominated for several industry awards, including seven Primetime Emmy Awards, winning one for Outstanding Art Direction for a Variety or Music Program. The program's success inspired Disney and ABC to produce several similar musical projects. Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella is regarded by contemporary critics as a groundbreaking film due to the unprecedented diversity of its cast and Brandy's role.


Cinderella grows distracted while waiting upon her stepmother and two stepsisters in the marketplace, where she meets a charming young man. Despite being apprehensive about introducing herself to him at first, the pair bond upon realizing that both are dissatisfied with their sheltered home lives. After being scolded for speaking to a stranger, Cinderella returns to her step family's aid before realizing the young man is Prince Christopher. The Prince returns to the palace, where he is apprehended by his valet Lionel for once again visiting the kingdom disguised as a commoner, and learns that his parents, Queen Constantina and King Maximillian, plan to host a ball in order to find her son a suitable bride, an idea he strongly protests because he would rather marry for love. At Lionel’s suggestion, Constantina and Maximillian compromise that should Christopher not be successful in choosing a bride at the ball, he be allowed to find one on his own terms.

Back at their own home, Cinderella wishes to attend the ball herself but her stepmother ridicules the idea, advising her that a prince would never be interested in her and to remain grateful for her current life. Solely determined to bolster their own wealth and social status by marrying the prince, Cinderella's step family leaves for the ball, leaving Cinderella home alone. Cinderella is soon visited by her Fairy Godmother for the first time, who encourages her to go to the ball; she magically transforms a pumpkin into a carriage, rats into footmen and a coachman, mice into horses, and her rags into a beautiful ballgown, complete with a pair of glass slippers. With her Fairy Godmother's warning that the spell will only last until midnight, Cinderella leaves for the ball.

Yet to be impressed with any of the young women he meets, including Cinderella's Stepsisters, Christopher is growing weary until Cinderella arrives, and the pair instantly start dancing much to the annoyance of Cinderella’s step family, who can’t help but feel that the unidentified princess is familiar. Cinderella grows dismayed and wishes to leave when the King and Queen ask her about her background, but her Fairy Godmother encourages her to stay. The clock strikes midnight as Cinderella and the Prince share their first kiss, but Cinderella flees on foot while the spell is reverted, leaving behind a single glass slipper. With his parents' blessing, Christopher declares that he will marry whomever fits the slipper, even if it means trying it on every maiden in the kingdom.

When Cinderella’s step family return home, they begin sharing embellished recounts of their evening. Cinderella explains that she can only imagine what it must have been like and they briefly bond over the memory, only for the Stepmother to soon recognize Cinderella as the mysterious princess with whom the Prince danced with, and insisting that she will never be more than a common girl. With final encouragement from her Fairy Godmother, Cinderella finally decides she will run away from home.

When the Prince and Lionel arrive at Cinderella’s home, the Stepmother locks Cinderella in the kitchen hoping to keep her hidden. Cinderella’s step family – including the Stepmother – try on the slipper with little success. Lionel demands that the kitchen be unlocked and searched, and the Prince discovers Cinderella in the courtyard about to run away. When Christopher recognizes Cinderella from the marketplace, he tries the slipper on her foot and it fits perfectly. In the end, Cinderella and the Prince soon marry in a grand ceremony, while the palace gates close on her step family, forcing them to watch from outside.


Order of credits adapted from Variety magazine and the British Film Institute:

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