One of the universal things all cultures hare, regardless of where we are in the world, is the love of fairy tales. It’s a subject entrenched in Disney films such as Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs or Beauty and the Beat. Or in writing, the works of The Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen. There are countless variants of thousands or tales, but we’re most familiar with the toned-down English-language versions. Another Disney hit was Cinderella. However, the best screen adaptation of the story is Václav Vorlícek’s Three Wishes for Cinderella.
Popelka (Libuse Safránková) lives with her step-mother (Carola Braunbock) and step-sister (Dana Hlavácová) in their mansion where she’s treated like a slave. She loves hunting and riding but has been confined to doing housework. When the King (Rolf Hoppe) visits their home, the handsome young prince (Pavel Trávnícek) is outfoxed by her, in disguise. Soon after, the king hosts a ball to find his son a wife. Popelka isn’t invited, but she has three magic nut which can grant her wishes.
Based on a fairy tale written by Božena Němcová, Three Wishes for Cinderella will feel familiar to an English-language audience, whilst containing several differences. Popelka (Cinderella) is not just the put-upon drudge; taking decisive action to change her fate. It’s still a firm Christmas favourite across much of the Continent. Set in beautiful wintery Bohemia, it has an idyllic feel whilst still depicting the harsh rigours of Medieval life. Three Wishes for Cinderella is my favourite version of the popular fable, full of Eastern European magic whilst also grounded in reality.
- Three Wishes for Cinderella (1973) – presented from a brand new digital restoration of the film from original materials, supervised by the Czech National Film Archive.
- Original Czech soundtrack in mono audio.
- New and improved English subtitle translation.
- A new and exclusive filmed appreciation by writer, editor and film historian Michael Brooke.
- Booklet featuring a new essay.
Three Wishes of Cinderella is released on DVD by Second Run on Monday.