Today I am sharing two of my favorite happily-ever-after romance movies, both set in an indeterminate past with a Medieval flavor. One is clearly fantasy laced, while the other is a well-known fairytale given a rational explanation. Each have humor, fantastic supporting characters, a fair amount of suspense, and the oh-so-necessary celebratory kiss. Both are “must-see” movies for the helpless romantic!
Synopsis: Philippe Gastone, a petty thief also known as “The Mouse”, escapes from the dungeon at Aquila – a feat no one has ever accomplished – sparking a manhunt by the Bishop of Aquila’s guards. Saved from capture by Etienne Navarre, an intimidating man riding a white stallion and wielding a great sword, Philippe’s repayment for his life is to aid Navarre on a quest. Initially agreeing while biding his time to escape, Philippe soon discovers that the hawk companion of Navarre is far from an ordinary bird. Life-threatening encounters with a huge black wolf who only appears at night alongside a beautiful woman named Isabeau d’Anjou – when, incidentally, both Navarre and the hawk disappear – lead Philippe to the awareness of a dreadful curse.
Two years prior, the Bishop, in a fit of jealousy over Isabeau’s rejection of him and secret love for Navarre (the former Captain of the Aquila guard), turned to dark magic to devise a punishment damning the lovers to be, “Always together, eternally apart, for as long as there is night and day.”
Determined to end the curse, for good or ill, Navarre plans to kill the Bishop… and the Mouse now has the knowledge of how to enter the castle of Aquila undetected. The Bishop, however, is informed of Philippe’s rescue by Navarre and is equally determined to kill Navarre. Enter a rogue priest named Imperius, who has uncovered a way to end the curse without killing anyone, and the race is on to see who will succeed first.
Directed by Richard Donnor
Matthew Broderick as Gaston
Rutger Hauer as Captain Etienne Navarre
Michelle Pfeiffer as Isabeau d’Anjou
Leo McKern as Imperius
John Wood as the Bishop of Aquila
Ken Hutchison as Marquet
Alfred Molina as Cezar
Ever After: A Cinderella Story (1998)
In the opening scene, The Queen of France summons the Grimm Brothers and, producing a pair of glass slippers as proof, she tells them the real story of Cinderella.
Danielle D’Barbarac is the strong, fiery daughter of a dead nobleman. She works as a servant to her stepmother, the Baroness D’Gent, and two step-sisters. Jacqueline, the youngest of the Baroness’s daughters, shows Danielle kindness and sympathy, but the eldest, Marguerite, treats her only with contempt and cruelty. One day Danielle enters the palace grounds pretending to be a courtier in order to buy the release of a beloved servant, and inadvertently captures the eye of none other than Henry, the crown prince.
The two fall in love, but their future happiness must overcome the machinations of the ruthless Baroness and her spoiled daughter Marguerite, the evil Pierre le Pieu, the King’s plan to align Henry through marriage to a Spanish princess, Danielle’s deception and status as a commoner, and Henry’s prejudices. Fortunately Danielle has the support of her fellow servants, Danielle’s kind stepsister Jacqueline, a sympathetic Queen, her best friend Gustave, and none other than the great Leonardo Da Vinci!
Directed by Andy Tennant
Drew Barrymore as Danielle D’Barbarac
Anjelica Huston as Rodmilla D’Gent
Dougray Scott as Prince Henry
Patrick Godfrey as Leonardo Da Vinci
Megan Dodds as Marguerite D’Gent
Melanie Lynskey as Jacqueline D’Gent
Timothy West as King Francis
Judy Parfitt as Queen Marie
Lee Ingleby as Gustave