Page to Screen: Ella Enchanted (2004)

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Ella Enchanted
based on the novel by Gail Carson Levine

★★☆☆☆

2004 • 96 minutes • Buena Vista Pictures

I was two-thirds of the way through Ella Enchanted when I realized I’d never seen Ella Enchanted before. I mean, it seemed so obvious! In 2004, I was a preteen mourning the loss of The Lord of the Rings who had, in fact, actually read Ella Enchanted and liked it. I even distinctly remember reading about Cary Elwes playing the villain in this film and taking a moment to think about what he would even look like with darker hair. (I am always fascinated by what natural blondes look like with darker hair, for reasons presumably related to my lifelong adventures in hair color.)

And yet, when Heidi Klum turned up as the giantess Brumhilda, I realized that I was on deeply unfamiliar ground. I must have been stitching something together out of The Princess Diaries and A Knight’s Tale to heal over the mental wound this film inflicted on my generation of lady geeks. It’s a wound so deep that, when I proposed this film to my erstwhile Valkyries as a bad film to skewer, even those mighty mavens balked. Surely, though, with a decade between both me and the film and me and my culturally bloodthirsty preteen self, I could take a gentler and wider view on this much reviled film.

(Also Hannibal’s seeped into my bloodstream enough that I am compelled to seek out the filmography of both Hugh Dancy and Mads Mikkelsen, so expect King Arthur to be covered in these pages soon enough. Moving on…)

Ella Enchanted has precious little to do with the novel it’s based on, besides its basic premise. A girl named Ella is given the “gift” of obedience by a fairy, she goes to a giant’s wedding, and she falls in love with a prince named Char(mont). Other than that, they largely have nothing to do with one another, which makes Ella Enchanted, essentially, Shrek for teenage girls.

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Reading by Ear: Ella Enchanted

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
read by Eden Riegel

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As y’all know, I am a very visual person—that’s why this is a reread feature, not a first read feature. As a kid, cover art could make or break a book for me. What was depicted on the cover was not so much an artist’s interpretation of the work but the law as set down by the powers that be. (I also thought television shows happened when people spontaneously wandered in front of cameras. That might sound adorable, but I also didn’t understand that television shows came on weekly until I was fifteen. Knowledge is power, people.) Obviously, given my utter delight with awful book covers these days, I’ve grown out of this. But I encountered Ella Enchanted while laboring under these beliefs, which means that its original cover is seared into my brain like screen burn-in to such a degree that any other covers make my skin crawl. (I won’t talk about the movie. Until I see it again!)

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Review: The Two Princesses of Bamarre

The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine

Come back with me, if you will, to my childhood. (It’s a quick trip, I promise; y’all have your shots, right? I might be contagious.) My family is visiting my brother at the Air Force Academy, which puts me anywhere from nine to thirteen. As I wandered across a bright and green field, filled with cadets’ families, I came across this book peeking out of someone’s tote bag. I didn’t touch it, in a rare expression of self-control, but I was fascinated by the cover and the title. It’s always stuck with me, and might be one of the first books I ever wanted to read under my own steam.

And then it took me eleven years to get to it. Whoops!

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