As this adaption gives the story a bit of a twist, and I think that twist is one of the main reasons I love it so much, I think a summary is needed (it will contain lots of spoilers, but I think we all know the fundamental Cinderella plot):
The mansion/farm where Cinderella (or Popelka as she is called in Czech) lives is in a hurry before the royal family's upcoming visit. Her evil stepmother and stepsister forbids Cinderella to be there when they come, so she uses all the activity as a cover to slip away and visit her pet owl (Rosalie) and go for a ride on her horse in the forest.
Who should she meet there but the prince and 2 of his friends who have slipped away from their duties to go hunting instead. When she disrupts his aim by throwing snow at him, it results in quite a game of tag where they manage to corner her, but she eventually gets away by "borrowing" his horse.
When the prince returns home, the king announces that the prince has to grow up, and therefore he has decided he must marry (to the prince's big dismay). Invitations to a grand ball are sent out and the stepmother and sister is all aflutter when they receive it, so they immediately send a servant to town after fabric. When he returns, he also brings Cinderella a gift of 3 nuts he accidentally came upon on the road.
When Cinderella later mourns the fact that she cannot see the prince again to Rosalie, she suddenly discover cloth poking out of one of the nuts! And what does she find inside it but a hunter's outfit!
She then shows up at the yearly royal hunt, where she shows that she is by far the better shot among all the contestants.
When the night of the ball arrives Cinderella is forbidden to come and is very sad. To seek consolation she goes to visit Rosalie where she recalls the magic nuts she has. When she makes a wish one of the nuts transforms into a beautiful ballgown and she rides off to the ball on her horse.
When she arrives she meets and greets the prince who was just about to burst from the room, exhausted by the many dance partners. He is, however, drawn into conversation with Cinderella and asks her to dance. During the dance he very quickly falls in love with her and keeps asking who she is (she has put a veil in front of her face so no one will recognise her). He ends up proposing to her at last and in reply she gives him a riddle:
Soot on the cheek but not a chimney sweep
Feathered hat and crossbow but not a hunter
A dress with train and silver thread but not a princess
He doesn't know the answer and she replies that until he knows the answer to the riddle she will not answer his proposal, where after she bolts from the room.
A hunt after her ensues, during which she (of course) drops a shoe. The prince keeps following her and sees her enter the mansion, so he of course wakes up the entire household asking about for the beautiful princess. After a lot of laughter he comes with the obligatory "whoever this shoe fits will become my wife" speech, and starts trying the shoe on all the women. The stepmother and sister arrive home at the same moment, and catching a glimpse of Cinderella, they realise the truth. They then set a cunning plan in motion which involves dressing the step sister in Cinderella's dress and trying to get the prince to propose to her without seeing her face, but it is foiled.
At the same time Cinderella uses the last magic nut and it reveals a wedding gown to her.
When the prince is standing disillusioned in the court yard, who happens to come riding in, wearing her new gown but Cinderella? She repeats the riddle to him, and he suddenly realises that she was both the girl he met in the forest and the hunter that impressed him so.
And then they announce the wedding!
There, that became quite a lenghty summary. But don't think you can skip watching the movie just because you read this, for I didn't include all the funny little moments it is full of and makes it even more worthwhile.
Well, onto why i love this movie.
Firstly, Cinderella is just perfect! She is so sweet and beautiful but still determined and independent, and not so overbearing as in many other movies. I mean; she rides (even when she's not allowed to), she is a skilled hunter and she takes most of the initiative to meet the prince (quite a difference from most other adaptions).
And another thing I like about her; she doesn't accept the prince's proposal at first. She wants him to know that she is more than just the girl in the pretty dress before she agrees to marry him, which is a detail I really like!
The other characters are lovely done as well!
The prince is very entertaining with him trying to avoid growing up and running around having fun with his friends, but he is still very sweet.
The step mother and sister are evil but don't have much depth.
The king and queen, however, is the definite highlight among the characters. They have a wonderful relationship and a lot of playful banter. Most of my favourite funny moments from this movie involves the king and queen!
Don't even get me started on the scenery! It all takes place in a gorgeous winter wonderland filled with snow!
Also, Cinderellas costumes are really something! Her costume for the ball is a favourite of mine (especially the hair do), but I also just love the simple dress she wears around the house.
I nearly forgot to talk about the music!!! That is the most beautiful thing ever! Try and listen to the main themes here and here and then tell me it doesn't beautifully describe the essence of a Cinderella fairy tale.
So for the conclusion (if my exaggerated use of the words "love" and "beautiful" hasn't made it clear): I love this movie and i really wish more people knew about it.
You should definitely watch it if you love Cinderella or fairy tales or just beautiful movies..or even if you don't. Just watch it is all I can say to you!!
It's available here with english subtitles!