Monday, December 1, 2014

BTM: Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine


Movie: HALF A STAR (sorry, I don't actually have a graphic for half a star)
             I would like to make it clear that this half-star was earned by the presence of Hugh Dancy. (Cary Elwes would earn some points if he wasn't portraying a cartoonish king who doesn't exist in the book)

Sometimes, when a book is made into a movie, the screenwriters do the book a disservice. That cannot be said in this case, but only because I don't think they read more than the description of the book.

The movie has nothing in common with the book but the names. It's best to just pretend the movie isn't supposed to be based on the book at all.

Some of the worst offenses:

The book takes place over a few years. Ella and Char meet at her mother's funeral, and get to know each other and become friends slowly. Insta-love can go rot. The real love story is perfect.

The Royal Family
There is no evil uncle trying to take the throne from Char. Char's parents are very much alive and happy. No one is trying to steal the crown. 

The ogres aren't being unfairly killed. Ogres are evil and can use mind control. Ella actually learns to do it herself speaking ogrese. She doesn't need to be rescued from the ogres-- she rescues herself, thank you very much. And Char isn't after them to avenge his father; he is after them because it's his duty as sovereign. 

The elfs aren't enslaved. They live in the woods, and Ella meets Slannen only briefly. 

Mandy isn't inept. She has been the fairy godmother to Ella's family for generations. She is the one who tells Ella about her drop of fairy blood, which results in her having tiny fairy feet. 
Mandy gives Ella the fairy book (which decidedly does not have a man trapped in it, but does show letters and diary entries that mention her) before she goes to finishing school.

Finishing School
This was a big deal in the book. Ella is there for a long time, and it's where she meets her Ayorthaian friend. She also steals Hattie's wig when she leaves. Oh yeah, Hattie wears a wig. I can't believe that was left out. Such a waste of comedy potential.

The Balls
That's right, balls. Three of them, to be exact, which were condensed into one in the movie, though still wrong. Ella goes to see Char, since she broke his heart forging a letter to him from Hattie saying that she eloped with an old rich man, knowing that it was for his own good. Ella wore her mother's dresses and glass slippers that Char himself gave her after they found them at the wedding of Ella's father and Dame Olga. Ella conceals her identity, and Char doesn't know it's her until the end of the last ball.

The End
Ella is not imprisoned for trying to kill Char because she doesn't try to kill him because the evil King doesn't order her to because he doesn't exist. Char asks her to marry her at her house, and she breaks the curse by saying no, knowing that if she were to marry him, she could be used against him. Of course, saying no frees her to say yes. They marry and live happily ever after.

Now, in fairness, I will list the things that are the same:

1. Character names
2. Ella is cursed with obedience
3. Her mother is dead, and her father remarries an awful woman with two awful daughters

Oh, wait. No, that was it.
Maybe someday someone will make an adaptation that does this amazing book justice.

Until then, I will continue to read the book and sigh at the existence of the movie.

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