Every year at Christmas, families in Europe take a couple hours to watch a classic fairy tale, based loosely on the works of the Grimm Brothers. Three Wishes (or Nuts or Gifts) for Cinderella (Drei Haselnüsse für Aschenbrödel) was a film jointly produced by East Germany and Czechoslovakia. Released in 1973, the plot of the film runs similar to the original works of Cinderella that has been produced in many versions, each having a different place of scenery. In this case, the main character finds three hazelnuts and wishes for different attire to attract and capture the love of a prince. Much of the film took place in the winter time and in a village in the forest, with the prince having his home in the castle, with a laid-back queen and a traditionally oriented but also understandable king. To give you an idea what the film looks like:
Much of the filming took place in the forests of Bohemia in Czechoslovakia, yet the Moritzburg Castle near Dresden was used for the festivities of the royalty. The castle has hosted an exhibit dedicated to this film at Christmas time.
The film marked the rise of a Czech star, whom we’re paying tribute to in this post. Libuše Šafránková was 20 years old when she accepted the offer to play the main character. She was a young, beautiful woman with a promising future in show business. She had joined the Prague Theater club in 1972 after having grown up in Brno (Brunn). After actress Jana Preissová had declined the role due to pregnancy, Šafránková accepted the role of the shy but clever character, who endured ridicule of her step-mother and sister, but found a beautiful prince and lured him through riddles and trifles- that is until the shoe fit and the main character won her prize. Šafránková provided the character with one with an open heart despite being underappreciated, opportunities to thwart her step-sister’s attempts to win the prince despite the oppression endured, and some trickeries and laughs despite being looked down upon by her adversaries. Her character made her a star for Czechoslovakia and East Germany as the film debuted on both sides of the German border. After the film was released in Czechoslovakia in 1973, it debuted in East Germany the following March; in West Germany nine months later, and by 1976, the film became an international hit in Europe, Canada and the USA.
Šafránková became the face of Czechoslovakia, having starred in as many as 24 films in the next 20 years until the Velvet Divorce between the Czechs and the Slovaks in 1993. It included two more films that starred her and the prince from the 1973 film, Pavel Trávníček entitled the Salt Prince and the Third Prince, both released in 1982. The Prince and the Evening Star (1979) and My Sweet Little Village (1985) belonged to her bests. She won the Czech Lion Award for one film in 1996 and the Star of my Heart Award in 2008 for her work.
Šafránková married fellow actor Josef Abrhám and withdrew from the stage beginning in the 1990s to have a family of her own. Together they had one son. Her last film was in 2013. On June 9, 2021, Šafránková died as a result of lung cancer, the illness she had fought for a decade, resulting in losing 20% of her lungs through operations and treatment. She was 68. Her passing has been a shock to both Czechia and Germany because of her popularity as an actress as well as a person. When people talk about her, the first film that will come to mind is the first one she starred in, the one where she played Aschenbrödel who rose from adversity and used her beauty and wit to win the heart of her big love, the prince. It’s not only the film that made her a celebrity, it’s a film which provides hope during a season that is of perpetual hope, which is Christmas. Three Wishes for Cinderella is one of the films that is a must-see during the holidays, and this holiday season will be even more special because the film will honor that girl who found her way to a boy’s heart.
And this kind of love makes a person a legend. Rest in Peace, Aschenbrödel. We love you too. ❤