Why the new ‘Cinderella’ movie made these changes to the fairytale

Idina Menzel plays Ella’s stepmother, Vivian, in “Cinderella.”

(Kerry Brown / Amazon)

The next morning, Ella is visited in the basement by her stepmother, Vivian, (Idina Menzel), who shares that she used to play piano and spent a month at a noted conservatory. “When I returned, my husband, he believed real wives didn’t act so frivolously,” Vivian says with tears in her eyes. “You may think me cruel, but the real cruelty would be for me to allow you to think you can be something you can’t.” Vivian then spots the leftover glass slipper and tries to convince Ella to marry Prince Robert after all, as a means of solving their financial problems.

Cannon added this Vivian backstory because “I didn’t want there to be any ‘evil’ in the movie at all. Vivian had these dreams, and her husband divorced her simply because she was trying to follow them. And then she remarries but he dies and she’s back to square one with an additional daughter.

“She had been taught to believe that marrying is the only way that you can improve your lot in life,” Cannon continued. “If you understand that about her, you see she’s not jealous of Ella or spiteful. Her advice is coming from a very emotional and tragic place, really.”

Vivian laments her lack of options in the original song “Dream Girl,” an angst-ridden track co-written by Menzel that acts as anthem for the women of the kingdom. “If you take it out of the movie, it’s a universal cry for all the struggle of not being recognized and appreciated for who you are, and the pain of someone telling you that your dreams don’t matter,” said Menzel of the song.

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