SUBJECTS — World/France and the Renaissance; Myths & Fairy Tales;
SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL LEARNING — Romantic Relationships; Self-Esteem;
MORAL-ETHICAL EMPHASIS — Trustworthiness, Caring.
AGE: 10+; MPAA Rating — PG for brief language and mild thematic elements;
Drama; 1998; 121 minutes; Color. Available from Amazon.com.
MOVIE WORKSHEETS & STUDENT HANDOUTS
TWM offers the following movie worksheets to keep students’ minds on the film and to focus their attention on the lessons to be learned from the movie.
Teachers can modify the movie worksheets to fit the needs of each class. See also TWM’s Historical Fiction in Film Cross-Curricular Homework Project and Movies as Literature Homework Project.
“Ever After” is an enchanting re-imagining of the Cinderella fairy tale set in France during the Renaissance. In this version the little cinder girl is a well-read young woman of passionate intelligence and integrity named Danielle. She awakens a jaded prince of France by advocating concepts from Sir Thomas More’s Utopia. The Prince, it turns out, is suffocating in the gilded cage of royal life. In a charming departure from the plot of the classic tale, the cinder girl saves the Prince just as much as he saves her.
Leonardo da Vinci, who served as artist in residence at the French court from 1516 to 1519, acts out the role of fairy godmother. The Mona Lisa and several of his famous inventions make cameo appearances. This is a very literate tale, told with great wit and charm.
SELECTED AWARDS & CAST
Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA: 1999 Saturn Award for Best Actress: Drew Barrymore; Best Costumes: Jenny Beavan; Nominations: Best Music: George Fenton; Best Supporting Actress: Anjelica Huston;
1999 Blockbuster Entertainment Awards Favorite Actress – Drama/Romance: Drew Barrymore; Favorite Supporting Actress – Drama/Romance Anjelica Huston; Nominations: Favorite Male Newcomer: Dougray Scott;
1999 Kids’ Choice Awards, USA Blimp Award Favorite Movie Actress: Drew Barrymore;
1999 Teen Choice Awards Nominated for Choice Drama.
Drew Barrymore as Danielle De Barbarac; Anjelica Huston as Baroness Rodmilla De Ghent; Dougray Scott as Prince Henry; Patrick Godfrey as Leonardo da Vinci; Megan Dodds as Marguerite De Ghent; Melanie Lynskey as Jacqueline De Ghent; Timothy West as King Francis; Judy Parfitt as Queen Marie; Jeroen Krabbé as Auguste De Barbarac; Lee Ingleby as Gustave; Kate Lansbury as Paulette; Matyelok Gibbs as Louise; Walter Sparrow as Maurice; Jeanne Moreau as Grande Dame; Anna Maguire as Young Danielle.
BENEFITS OF THE MOVIE
This movie is an effortlessly feminist take on a beloved story. Danielle is a wonderful role model for any young woman: intellectually vibrant, loyal, courageous, and tender-hearted.
Students can move from “Ever After” to a study of the original Cinderella, and the role of fairy and folk tales in helping children deal with the developmental issues involved in growing up, leaving home, meeting the world’s challenges, and reaching authentic maturity.
“Ever After” also introduces children to the new world of social thought that was dawning in Europe during the Renaissance. See The Renaissance. The genius of Leonardo is highlighted in a lighthearted manner as his character wanders into the action from the periphery and then champions the match of Danielle and the Prince. Leonardo tries to walk on water in his boat shoes, agrees to critique the work of a young painter, and mentions that Michelangelo is stuck under a ceiling in Rome (the Sistine Chapel). Danielle flies a kite of Leonardo’s design. See the section of this Guide on Leonardo.
MINIMAL. There are a number of historical errors in the film. These can be turned into teaching opportunities, see Teaching from Historical Errors.
Just showing the movie to your child will be beneficial, but the most benefit will come if you introduce the film using sections II and III of the Introduction to “Ever After” and the “Ever After” Time Line. The benefits will increase dramatically if you go through the Helpful Background section with your child.
After the movie, ask how the film was different from the classic Cinderella tale. A good answer will include a discussion of: (1) in addition to the Prince saving Danielle, she saved the Prince (from the Gypsies and from a life without passion) and (2) Leonardo da Vinci served as the fairy godmother. Talk about the use of fairy tales, see Fairy Tales: A Vital Literary Genre for Children. Then ask the Quick Discussion Question and the Discussion Questions relating to Cinderella and fairy tales. Finally, talk about the Renaissance and Leonardo da Vinci. If your child is interested in history Teaching From Historical Errors can be lots of fun.
FAIRY TALES: A VITAL LITERARY GENRE FOR CHILDREN
In his book, The Uses of Enchantment, Dr. Bruno Bettelheim notes that fairy tales have happy endings that follow frightening trials. The child is drawn into a magical world to contemplate the actions of figures that represent his hopes and fears allowing him to work through his responses according to his stage of development as an individual. Dr. Bettelheim explains that these stories reassure the child that “benevolent powers will come to his aid” and he will succeed – if he is not afraid to tackle adversity and search for his true self. Better yet, many of the stories concern a child overcoming a giant or very powerful figure. Tales like Jack the Giant Killer (also known as Jack and the Beanstalk) reassure the young that they can triumph even though they are small and often feel insignificant or powerless.
The function of assuring children of the benevolent nature of the universe and their own power to influence events are not characteristics of fable or myth. Fable and myth have outcomes that are often pessimistic and even tragic. They are more demanding of the reader/listener than fairy tales and they are more prescriptive, i.e., they tell us what humans should do. Myths are full of divine figures which reward men if they act correctly and punish them if they do not. (The Odyssey is an example.) In fables (like The Little Boy Who Cried Wolf) the intervention of the gods is replaced by a common-sense outcome.
Dr. Bettelheim urges parents (and we might add, caretakers) to read fairy tales to their children and re-tell the stories as often as they are requested. “Fairy tales are unique, not only as a form of literature but as works of art which are fully comprehensible to the child, as no other form of art is …”. They “are experienced as wondrous because the child feels understood and appreciated deep down in his feelings, hopes, and anxieties …. The fairy tale . . . takes these . . . very seriously and addresses itself directly to them: the need to be loved and the fear that one is thought worthless; the love of life, and the fear of death ….” “The separation anxiety that is part of the fear of death is addressed at the conclusion of many tales with: ‘they lived for a long time afterward, happy and in pleasure,’ or the indelible ‘they lived happily ever after.'” In this genre, the fulfillment of romantic adult love shines like a beacon, the greatest earthly comfort in the face of mortality. Since many of the stories treat coming-of-age dilemmas and the significance of puberty, they are also meaningful and useful for young adolescents.
According to Bettelheim, fairy tales are key to opening the minds of children to an appreciation of the greatest works of literature and art. He quotes the German poet Schiller who wrote: “Deeper meaning resides in the fairy tales told to me in my childhood than in the truth that is taught by life.”
Fairy tales grew out of an oral tradition, and changed as they were told and re-told to suit the purposes of the narrator and the audience. They are categorized as a sub-genre of folk tale. The characters that both royalty and peasants encounter are fantastical: talking animals, giants, trolls, elves, ogres, and fairies. Magical transformations are a fundamental dynamic of fairy tales. Frogs and monsters are actually princes who have had a wicked spell cast upon them. Sleeping beauties can doze for a hundred years, and pumpkins morph into carriages. Contemporary authors have continued the process of developing these stories.
Cinderella stories developed in the folklore of France, Germany, Italy, Egypt, Iceland, China, England, Korea, Siberia, France, Vietnam, and many other countries. (See, for example, the Collection of Cinderella Stories from Folklore and Mythology Electronic Texts.) Each is told from its unique cultural perspective. Dealing with a life controlled by stepparents has been an important issue through most of human history. Before the advent of modern medicine, natural parents often died when they had young children, leaving them in the hands of stepparents or other caretakers. In developed countries with high divorce rates and in Third World countries, especially those ravaged by HIV/AIDS, the possibility of being raised by someone other than their natural parents is still a fact of life for many children.
But the Cinderella story also relates to basic concerns of childhood. All children fear the prospect of a mother or father’s death or disappearance. They believe that no substitute could love or care for them as completely as their own parents. The fairy tale of Cinderella shows how a girl who had lost her parents was eventually able to get out from under the thumb of her uncaring and wicked stepmother. In a poll conducted for UCI Cinemas in 2004, Cinderella ranks ahead of Sleeping Beauty as the most popular fairy tale in America. Source: Discovering Fairy Tales and Wikipedia Article on Cinderella. Obviously, Cinderella still resonates with children today.
Continuing the process of transforming the Cinderella story according to the needs of the time and place in which it is told, the filmmakers have dug into one of the psychological foundations of the Cinderella story to illuminate the feelings of a child with an unloving parent. Danielle is long-suffering in her quest for her stepmothers’ love and acceptance. As a young girl, she was completely dependent and could never seem to evoke the love and care that every child needs and that her stepsisters enjoyed. After Danielle grew up, she continued to try to win the affection that had always been denied. To her stepmother, Danielle would never be more than a “pebble in her shoe.”
Another change from the classic Cinderella tale is the view of the cinder girl as equal to or superior in strength and intelligence to the other characters in the movie. In this modern-day feminist view of the story, Danielle saves the Prince at the same time that he saves her.
Another part of the classic Cinderella story that undergoes drastic revision in the movie is the role of the fairy godmother and of magic. By some interpretations, the magical intervention of the fairy godmother is evidence to the child that the universe is friendly and will ultimately take care of the child when the uncaring parent will not. It is important for young children to believe that the universe is not a hostile place. Most fairy tales contain elements of this same beneficial magical intervention (Santa Claus is one example. Another is Sleeping Beauty whose heroine is awakened from a hundred-year sleep by a kiss.)
In “Ever After” there is also an intervention that saves the cinder girl and proves the universe benign, but the role of magic is denied. The character of Leonardo da Vinci performs the function of the fairy godmother, saving Danielle at the last moment, dressing her in a beautiful gown, and arguing her case to the prince. Of all human beings in history, Leonardo is among the few who could substitute for a fairy godmother. But he has a greater role to play in this film because, along with Danielle, Leonardo serves as a symbol of the new humans of the Renaissance, very capable and able to see beyond the prejudices and ignorance of the Middle Ages. It is from the changes of the Renaissance that this Cinderella demonstrates that there is hope for us all.
The term “Renaissance” comes from the French word for “rebirth.” It refers to the flowering of art, literature, learning, and scientific inquiry that followed Europe’s rediscovery of classical Greek and Roman texts. These had fallen into disuse and had largely been forgotten during the Middle Ages. The Renaissance shifted the focus of Europe to secular pursuits. It set the stage for the scientific revolution, the Protestant Reformation, and the Age of Enlightenment.
The Renaissance began in the 1300s as a movement for educational reform in the city of Florence. The leaders of the Renaissance endorsed a “Humanist” curriculum which required students to read the secular classics of the ancient world. The goal was to enable students to learn the wisdom of the ancients directly and then to choose the right way to live. The new curriculum sought to create a well-rounded person and also included the writings of the Church Fathers, manners, dance, riding, and fencing. They held that full human development required participation in public affairs.
The focus on the direct reading of classical texts and the endorsement of Humanist education stimulated unprecedented inquiries into the nature of the Catholic Church and the authority of the papacy. The Renaissance was therefore an important precursor of the Protestant Reformation, which endorsed a direct reading of the Bible and rejected the authority of the Pope.
The scholars of the Renaissance were pious men who believed that classical learning would do more to enrich traditional religious beliefs than to undermine them. The Renaissance concept of Humanism did not mean a secular philosophy that denies an afterlife, as the term “humanism” is used today. Humanism did, however, deny to the church the right to rule civic matters. Humanist scholars were concerned with secular pursuits in addition to religious learning. These included secular art, philosophy, government, secular literature, and science, all based on the theories and discoveries of the ancients. Many areas of Renaissance scholarship, such as art, literature and philosophy, were characterized by a spirit of inquiry and experimentation. The Renaissance was a precursor of the scientific revolution and the age of Enlightenment.
At first in Italy and then all over Europe, the aristocracy took up the humanist cause. While prowess at arms was the defining measure of aristocrats in the Middle Ages, during the Renaissance, aristocrats sought to demonstrate their superiority over the masses and over those aristocrats in competition with them not only by the power of their armed forces, but by embracing the new education and patronizing the arts. The wealth and power of a prince, king, pope, or archbishop would be established by the art that he could commission. The Humanist education of the aristocracy led to new standards of courtly behavior and commitment to elegance, taste, and refinement.
Most Italian princely courts had embraced Renaissance ideas by the mid-1400s. Aided by the invention of the printing press (1447), the Renaissance spread to most of Europe’s rulers in the 16th century. For example, King Henry VIII of England (1491 – 1547) was a poet, author, musician, composer, and sportsman, as well as a man who went through six different wives. He chose as Chancellor (and later beheaded) Sir Thomas More, one of the most remarkable men of the Renaissance, and the author of Utopia.
As the Renaissance spread to different parts of Europe, it developed characteristics particular to each country. However, humanist education covered the Greek and Roman classics wherever it was taught. The fact that all intellectual, middle, and upper class Europe was educated based on a similar humanist model meant that Europeans shared a fundamental cultural unity. Humanism brought a change in status because people began to be famous not only because they were kings or dukes but also because they were artists, sculptors, and authors. The Humanist valued participation in civic affairs, ability in the arts, and the combination of the contemplative and active life. The aristocratic courts, including the Vatican, competed for the best poets, painters, and sculptors who were expected to immortalize their patrons through works of art and architecture.
The emphasis on the secular works of the ancients led to the creation of purely secular works of art and literature in Europe. These arose alongside strong traditions of religious art and literature. Echoing the ancients’ respect for the human body, the Renaissance saw the first paintings of nude human forms since antiquity (Masaccio) and the emphasis on sculptures of idealized nude bodies (Donatello). Building techniques that had been used in antiquity but which had been lost were rediscovered. The Dome of the Florence Cathedral (1420 – 1426) was the first dome built in Italy since ancient times.
Thomas More wrote Utopia in 1515, coining the title (from outopos – Greek for “no place” and eutopos – “good place”). Utopia was an imaginary island ruled by scholars. Wealth, the nobility, private property, and money had been abolished. Cosmetics were scorned as were jewels and ostentatious clothing. Everyone worked the same number of hours and only priests and government officials were exempted from labor on a farm or in a trade. Goods were distributed equally and property was held in common. All the houses were of the same solid construction. All religions were tolerated. Euthanasia was encouraged and divorce permitted in special circumstances. Laws were brief and easy to understand. There were no lawyers. These concepts were revolutionary at the time.
The meaning of the word “utopia” has expanded to include any ideal place or society. It often has a futuristic connotation. The concept of utopia maintains a lively currency in the world today. Some scholars believe that Karl Marx, the father of communism, drew his emphasis on communal property and social equality from More’s writings. 1984 (George Orwell), Fahrenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury) and Brave New World (Aldous Huxley) are famous literary treatments of a dystopia (or anti-utopia): a nightmarish state or society. For more on Thomas More, see Learning Guide to “A Man For All Seasons”.
Sources: The Western Experience — Vol. I To the Eighteenth Century, 8th Edition by Mortimer Chambers et al., McGraw-Hill, 2003; Wikipedia articles on the Renaissance and the Renaissance in various countries; Articles on the Renaissance from Annenberg Media and Utopia by Thomas More.
Leonardo da Vinci:
Leonardo da Vinci (1452 – 1519) is renowned as the great Southern genius of the Renaissance. He was one of the great masters of Renaissance art. His masterpieces include the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper. Leonardo was also a scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, sculptor, architect, musician, and writer. He was always thinking up new things such as innovative ways to paint, new concepts in building, and unheard of machines such as a flying machine, a helicopter, war machines, and boat shoes (to allow a person to walk on water).
Leonard da Vinci Self-portrait
Leonardo kept daily journals containing notes and drawings relating to his observations, artistic endeavors, and inventions. Eventually, there were 13,000 pages of these journals. In them are drawings of plants and sketches relating to mechanics, municipal construction, canals, architecture (designing everything from churches to bridges to fortresses), human anatomy, geological formations, hydrology, and astronomy.
Leonardo was born in Vinci, a town outside of Florence. He was the bastard child of a notary and a peasant girl. He was raised by his father and at the age of 15 apprenticed to a respected artist, Andrea del Verrocchio of Florence. One story is that young Leonardo contributed an angel to one of Verrochio’s paintings. It was so much better than the work of his master that the man resolved never to paint again. Leonardo worked in various cities in Italy throughout his life and spent his last three years as the guest of the king of France. There is a legend that the king was present when Leonardo died and cradled the famous artist’s head in his arms.
The Principal Organs and Vascular and Urino-Genital Systems of a Woman
From Leonardo’s Journal
Two pages of Leonardo’s journal refer to a project for a bridge to cross the Bosphorus made to the Sultan Beyazid II of Istanbul. The Sultan never built the bridge. More than 500 years after Leonardo designed the bridge, a smaller version was built in Norway.
The term “Renaissance man” refers to someone who develops many skills and who is curious and inventive. Leonardo was the role model for a Renaissance man. Sources: Wikipedia articles on Leonardo, his art and his inventions and Leonardo at the Boston Museum of Science.
TEACHING FROM HISTORICAL ERRORS IN THE MOVIE
While the characters of King Francis, Prince Henry, and Leonardo were very loosely drawn from history, the remaining characters and events in “Ever After” are fictional. There are many historical errors that afford opportunities to teach.
The date of the story: 1516, the year that Leonardo da Vinci came to France, appears to be the best date for the events of the marriage of Henry to Danielle. However, there are several events of the story which conflict with this date. For example, Thomas More’s Utopia was published in 1515. According to the story, Danielle was eight years of age when her father gave her a copy of the book. According to the movie, Danielle’s marriage to Prince Henry took place about ten years later, which could be no earlier than 1525, ten years after the publication of the book. However, by that time Leonardo would have been dead for several years. (He died in 1519.) Moreover, Henry was born in 1519 and assuming he was about 20 years old at the time of the marriage, the marriage would have occurred at about 1539.
Tennis was played in the French royal court inside an enclosed court as is shown in the film. Some contend that in the early 1500s, players didn’t use a racquet but instead used a glove that was similar to a modern squash glove. However, this is disputed and some say that tennis players used racquets. See An Evolutionary History of Tennis Racquets.
The Mona Lisa is shown as a painting on canvas that could be rolled up into a carrying case. In fact, the Mona Lisa was painted on wood. It is also much smaller than the painting shown in the movie.
Rodmilla de Ghent, the stepmother, told Prince Henry that Danielle was to marry a Belgian. But in the 1500s, there was no Belgium. In Roman times there was a province called Gallia Belgica. After Rome fell the area came under the rule of various European powers and the name Belgium was not used. During Napoleon’s ascendency, the area now described as Belgium was ruled by France but in the aftermath of Napoleon’s fall it was awarded to the Netherlands. The Belgians revolted and established their own country, the first that could really be called Belgium, in 1830. See History of Belgium.
Prince Henry gives a chocolate candy to the stepsisters. Chocolate was first used by the Olmecs, Mayans, and Aztecs of pre-Columbian South America. It was at just the time of this movie, the early 1500s, that the Spanish learned about chocolate. But Henry most likely never tasted it and it certainly wasn’t available in a market in France. For almost a hundred years, chocolate was a delicacy available only to the Spanish royal court. It wasn’t until about 1615 when Anne, daughter of Philip II of Spain, married French King Louis XIII that chocolate made its appearance in France, and then only as a drink. It was enthusiastically adopted as good food and good medicine by the French Court. Sources: The History of Chocolate from About.com and Chocolate Across Europe by the Cadbury Company. Chocolate candy in a solid form was not invented until the late 19th century.
Danielle states that her stepmother spends money on her stepsister like she has “money to burn”. However, paper money wasn’t used in Europe until about 1660. Money in the 16th century was made of precious metals, like gold and silver. See Wikipedia Article on Banknotes.
The University of Paris was fully established by 1200. It did not have to wait until the late 1500s.
French exploration of North America didn’t begin until about 1525 when King Francis I sent an Italian named Giovanni da Verrazano to explore the coast of what is now Canada and the U.S. He was looking for a passage to the Pacific Ocean. Since French colonization of America didn’t begin until 1599, prisoners couldn’t have been sent there at the time of the movie. See, French Colonization of the Americas from Wikipedia. The Wikipedia article on this movie asserts that the French policy was to keep prisoners “close-at-hand” where they could be watched by the King and his lieutenants. Only the people the King could trust were sent to the Americas. Note that the English had a different policy, sending prisoners and troublemakers to the colonies, especially to Georgia in the Americas and to Australia.
1. Click here for Standard Questions Suitable for Any Film.
FAIRY TALES: A VITAL LITERARY GENRE FOR CHILDREN
2. Bruno Bettelheim, a scholar who has studied fairy tales, contends that the dark and threatening figures in fairy tales should not be sanitized; that children make use of them to work through their fears and primitive emotions. Do you agree or disagree?
A good answer will refer to the use of fairy tales as a way to safely explore the situations that children fear.
3. What is the childhood fear that the Cinderella fairy tale explores?
Children fear the prospect of a mother or father’s death or disappearance. One component of this fear is the concern that no substitute could love or care for them as completely as their own parents. The fairy tale of Cinderella shows how a girl who had lost her mother was eventually able to get out from under the thumb of an uncaring and wicked stepmother.
4. For a glimpse of the psychological relationship between the cinder girl and the stepmother, see the Quick Discussion Question.
5. Name some other fairy tales and talk about the fears or concerns of childhood that they explore. What about Hansel and Gretel, Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, The Wizard of Oz, and The Nutcracker?
Here are some interpretations. There are other valid interpretations. Hansel and Gretel: In this story, the parents abandon their children in the forest. This was not unheard of in times of famine in the Middle Ages. It is understandable that vulnerable creatures trying to figure out their world would worry about being abandoned. The children meet a witch in the woods who tries to cook them in an oven (fear of the primeval forest), but the children are able to shove the witch into the oven and to survive. Beauty and the Beast: This can be interpreted as a coming-of-age story for girls. Many young girls, content with a childlike love for their fathers, are confused by the first stirrings of sexual desire. When a girl meets a man or a boy who expresses an interest in them, the stirrings of sexual desire are heightened. Frightened by these new feelings, the girl turns the person who causes them into an obnoxious beast. Now there is no risk of feeling sexual desire, except the beast is still fascinating. Only when the girls mature can they accept the sexual component of love and marry the beast. Sleeping Beauty: In this tale, the fear of sexual maturity, the same fear that powers Beauty and the Beast, causes the young heroine to retreat into sleep from which she can only be awakened by the kiss of the prince (true love). Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: This is another tale of an evil stepmother who persecutes a little girl. The Wizard of Oz: Most children wonder about what would happen if their parents died or they were suddenly transported far away from home where their parents couldn’t protect them. This fear is enhanced by the contradictory longing to go out into that fascinating but scary world away from home (“Somewhere Over the Rainbow”). Will they meet evil people in that world? Will they be able to triumph over those evil people? What is real in that world? How does the child tell the difference between appearance and reality? The Wizard of Oz allows a child to work through those concerns. The Nutcracker: Children are fascinated by the idea that toys can really come to life. They also have a fear of the underworld of vermin. Another component of The Nutcracker is the coming of age of a young girl who is rescued by the Nutcracker/Prince.
6. Danielle makes a clever bargain with the Gypsies to save Henry’s life. She hoists him on her back and carries him away. How does that relate to the Cinderella fairy tale?
This incident turns the usual story on its head. It symbolizes one of the major themes of the movie: that Danielle (the cinder girl) rescues the Prince.
7. What was the year in which the wedding described in this story takes place? Describe how you came to your conclusion.
1516 appears to be the best date for the events of the marriage of Henry to Danielle because the movie describes the marriage as occurring shortly after Leonardo da Vinci came to France to be an artist at the Court of the French King. History places this date as 1516. However, there are other ways to date the movie. For example, when Danielle was eight years old her father gave her a copy of Thomas More’s Utopia which was published in 1515. According to the story, the marriage occurred about ten years later, putting the date of the story in 1525, but by that time Leonardo would have been dead for several years. (He died in 1519.) Another interpretation is based on Prince Henry’s year of birth, 1519. Assuming that he was about 20 years old at the time of the marriage shown in the movie, the wedding would have taken place in about 1539. Another way to date the story is sometime in the 19th century because French colonies in the Americas weren’t established until then and one of the servants was to be sent there.
8. What was Henry’s mother referring to when she cautioned him about finding a wife: “Choose wisely, Henry. Divorce is only something they do in England.”?
She was referring to Henry VIII of England (1491 – 1547) who went through six wives. For more on this see notes to response to Comprehension Test Question #8.
9. When Danielle was reproaching Henry for his callous disregard for the French peasants, she said, “They are the legs you stand on!” What did she mean?
Their labor made the wealth that the royal court taxed to support itself.
10. The Portrait of Federigo Da Montefeltro Duke of Urbino and His Son Guidobaldo shows us three things about the Renaissance in Italy. What are they?
The aristocracy was very wealthy (the clothing worn by the Duke and his son are expensive); (2) their society valued learning (the Duke is reading a book); and (3) their society valued prowess at arms (the Duke is wearing armor).
11. Before Henry got angry at Danielle at the masked ball, what had she been trying to tell him? Why was this important?
Danielle had claimed to be a countess when she met him at the castle as she was buying the old servant’s freedom. The issue of one’s status was very important because most royalty would never think of marrying a commoner, no matter how intelligent and attractive. Danielle tried to tell Henry that she was not an aristocrat at the monastery and again at the ball, but he would not listen.
1. Danielle’s stepmother frequently tells her that she is ugly and incompetent. At one point Danielle asks: “What bothers you more stepmother? That I am common or that I am competition?” What does this tell you about basing your self-esteem on what others think of you?
A person’s attitude toward another is often based not on an objective evaluation of that other person but on the agenda of the person doing the evaluating. The stepmother wanted to make sure that Danielle was no competition for her daughters. If Danielle considered herself plain and incompetent she would be less likely to be seen as attractive by others.
2. What was it that attracted Henry to Danielle?
There are many responses, but a good response will include the fact that she challenged him and had enormous passion and conviction.
MORAL-ETHICAL EMPHASIS (CHARACTER COUNTS)
Discussion Questions Relating to Ethical Issues will facilitate the use of this film to teach ethical principles and critical viewing. Additional questions are set out below.
(Be honest; Don’t deceive, cheat or steal; Be reliable — do what you say you’ll do; Have the courage to do the right thing; Build a good reputation; Be loyal — stand by your family, friends, and country)
1. Danielle tells one lie in this movie and it is almost her undoing. What was it?
Danielle had to give the impression she was an aristocrat to buy the old servant’s freedom. She met Prince Henry at the castle and when he asked her who she was she had to pretend to be an aristocrat. And so, she claimed to be a countess. This was more than just a fib in those days because impersonating an aristocrat was a crime, as was lying to a member of the royal family. It was this lie that enraged Henry so much that for a few moments he forgot his love for Danielle.
(Be kind; Be compassionate and show you care; Express gratitude; Forgive others; Help people in need)
See the Quick Discussion Question.
ASSIGNMENTS, PROJECTS & ACTIVITIES
2. Rehearse and present to the class an Oprah-type talk show (think of a good fairy tale or royal name) with Danielle, Henry, and the whole dysfunctional family. The time is after King Francis has died and Henry has ascended the throne. (The stepmother and Marguerite have been temporarily released from the laundry.) Here are some suggested questions for the talk-show host:
For King Henry and Queen Danielle:
- Are your servants now paid minimum wage?
- Can they be bought and sold?
- What have you done for the peasants lately?
- Are you going to write a sequel to Thomas More’s best seller, Utopia?
- Under what circumstances are people shipped to the Americas? Where are these Americas?
For Queen Danielle:
- You were a very liberated woman when it came to Henry. Why did you take so much abuse from your stepmother?
For King Henry:
- Why were you first attracted to Danielle? Were you a winner or a loser before you met her?
- Did you build your university? Who can use it?
For the Stepmother
- What happened in your childhood to make you so cruel to Danielle?
- What were you fearing when you cried out to Danielle’s dying father, “Don’t leave me here!” When his last words, “I love you”, were spoken to little Danielle?
- Are you now, or have you ever been, a chocoholic?
- What kinds of feelings were you trying to stuff down with all that food?
3. Read one of the following books and then write your own updated version of Cinderella or another fairy tale for a juvenile or mature teenage audience. The books are: The Paperbag Princess by Robert Munch (illustrated children’s book), The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter (dark and erotic re-imagined fairy tales), or Cinderella: The Dog and Her Little Glass Slipper by Diane Goode.
4. [In the lecture and in the Discussion Questions, don’t describe the basis for the conclusion that the events of the marriage took place in 1516.] Research and write one to three paragraphs on why the events surrounding the marriage of Danielle and the Prince occurred in 1516 or, in the alternative, dispute that hypothesis. Use events in the movie and historical events to support your conclusion.
5. Research and write a paragraph stating and justifying your conclusions on any two of the following questions:
- Was the movie accurate when it had the Prince playing a game of tennis?
- Leonardo is shown putting the Mona Lisa into a tube. Could the Mona Lisa have been carried in a tube? If so why and if not why not?
- Rodmilla, the stepmother, told Prince Henry that Danielle was to marry a Belgian. She was lying and there was a reason that Henry should have known it right off. What was it about Belgium that made her statement an obvious lie?
- Something is wrong in historical terms with the scene in which Henry feeds chocolate to Marguerite. What is it?
- There is something wrong with Danielle’s statement that her stepmother spends money on her stepsister like she has “money to burn”. What is it?
- The old servant is to be sent to America. Historically, there is something wrong with this plot device. What is it?
- Henry said he’d establish the first University in France. Did he lie?
Citations are set out in the body.
This Learning Guide was last updated on July 21, 2011.