Ella appears to have a perfect life. She lives in a lovely home with a loving mother and a kind father. Her mother teaches her to "have courage and be kind," telling Ella that there is a special power in kindness. The admonition to be courageous is soon tested when Ella's mother becomes ill and dies.
After a time, Ella's father remarries, but in his loneliness he does not choose well, and Ella's new stepmother and stepsisters prove to be grasping, vain, ungrateful, inconsiderate people. When Ella's father goes on a business trip and dies, whatever faint disguise of caring falls away from the stepfamily, and Ella is banished to the attic, coming down only to slave away for her horrid relations. But she remembers her mother's words, and continues to have courage and be kind even to those who don't deserve it. Because her face is dirtied by her housework, her stepfamily taunts her and begin to call her "Cinderella."
One day, out in the woods, Ella sees a beautiful stag, and then hears the horns of the hunters pursuing it. Ella positions herself between the stag and the leader of the hunters, Kit. He is beguiled by her beauty, and her heart for the stag. What Ella does not know is that he is the crown prince of the kingdom. Desiring to meet Ella again, the prince convinces the king to give a ball and invite every maiden in the land. But Ella's cruel stepmother destroys Ella's dress and forbids her to attend the ball.
Ella is in despair. She meets an old woman in the garden who asks for her aid. Upon giving it, the old woman transforms into Ella's fairy godmother. And with the magical help of her fairy godmother, Ella is able to go to the ball, where she dances with the prince until almost midnight. She is forced to flee when she remembers the temporary magic is waning, but she leaves one glass slipper on the stairs. The prince swears that he will find and marry the mysterious maid who dropped the slipper, but Ella's stepmother, conspiring with the evil Grand Duke, has other plans.
Movie Sermon's General Warning
Cinderella contains scenes about the death of parents, intense cruelty, and some exciting magical transformations. It is rated PG by the MPAA.