‘Once Upon A Crime’ Ending Explained & Film Summary: Who Killed Hans, And Why? 


Netflix’s Once Upon a Crime, is a new Japanese fantasy comedy film that gives a modern and strange twist to popular children’s fairy tales. The plot here revolves around Red Riding Hood, who happens to come across the kingdom of Clair de Lune on one of her travels, where Cinderella and her evil step-sisters live, hoping to become the prince’s bride soon. Adapted from a Japanese novel by Aito Aoyagi, the film then takes an unexpected turn into a crime thriller when a murder takes place, and the killer has to be found. With an overall funny and spoofy tone to it, Once Upon a Crime is thoroughly enjoyable, and its ending is equally satisfying.

Spoiler Alert

Plot Summary: What is the film about?

Once Upon a Crime begins exactly like other fantasy fairy tales, with the narrator introducing us to a pretty little girl who had been gifted a red velvet hood by her loving grandmother. As the girl wore this hood at all times during all of her adventures, she came to be known as Little Red Riding Hood. The girl gradually grew up to be a very intelligent woman who would often go out on adventures by herself, and now she is seen going on one such journey. On this particular day, Red Riding Hood is traveling through a forest when she is suddenly stopped by a witch named Barbara. Despite the woman trying to avoid Barbara by all means, the witch is hell-bent on giving her a pair of new magical shoes. But Barbara’s magic is self-admittedly bad with shoes, and so she ruins Red Riding Hood’s shoes in the process. As the girl washes them at a nearby stream, the boots get carried away by the water, and she has to chase them.

When Red Riding Hood finally tracks down her boots, a different woman is wearing them, but she also readily returns them to her. This woman, in shabby clothes and injured bare feet, introduces herself as Cinderella. Through her exceptional skills of observation, Red Riding Hood realizes that Cinderella is bullied by her stepmother and stepsisters, who always treat her as their maid. Soon, Barbara appears once more, and this time, she uses her magic to turn the two young women’s clothes into very fancy and rich attire. The witch’s niece, Tekla, also a witch, arrives next, and she gives the women a pair of exquisite glass slippers each, with the warning that the magic will wear off in 24 hours. Now dressed as noblewomen of very high family and culture, Cinderella and Red Riding Hood travel towards the king’s castle, where a large ball party is being held for the prince to choose his bride.

What is the mysterious crime that takes place in the film?

When the two young women decide to go to the king’s castle for the ball, the witches further help them by transforming a pumpkin into a carriage and a rat into their coachman, Paul. As this carriage travels through the forest roads towards the hill, something seems to jump right in front of them and is hit by the vehicle. When Paul checks what has happened, he realizes that the carriage has hit and run over a man, who has died from the grave injury. Cinderella immediately recognizes the dead man as Hans, the renowned hairdresser of the king, who could transform anyone into an image of perfect beauty and charm. It is once again Red Riding Hood’s detective skills that reveal that this death is more mysterious than it seems, for Hans had not died from the coach accident but had already been dead from a heavy injury at the back of his head.

Although the women initially debate as to what they should do, ultimately, Hans’ body is hidden by the road with leaves, and the coach arrives at the castle. Red Riding Hood and Cinderella reach the ball and also see the latter’s stepmother and the elder stepsister, Anne. The younger sister, Margot, is missing, though, and even her sibling and mother are confused about where she is. It is also noticed that Anne has gotten her long hair cut short by Hans, who had told her that the prince was fond of women with shorter hair.

Soon, the king of the land, Bovell, and his son, Prince Gilbert, reach the hall, and the party begins. As the prince is choosing women he likes for a dance, all the young ladies gathered try to impress the man. But it is Cinderella who immediately grabs Gilbert’s attention, and the two start to dance together. However, this merry-making is cut short when a guard of the king’s army reaches the place and informs everyone about the mysterious death of Hans. Since the man’s body had been found on the way to the castle, it is deemed that the killer must be at the hall, and so everyone’s carriages are checked. Since Paul had already cleaned the women’s coach earlier, no blood is found on it.

Eventually, though, the entire matter takes a different turn when the guards go to investigate at Hans’ house. A bloodied whetstone had been found lying at the place, which meant that the murder had taken place at the hairdresser’s house, and this was the murder weapon. Along with this, a number of beautiful locks of hair with decorative ribbons on them had also been found, suggesting that someone who had gone for a haircut must have killed the hairdresser.

What was the secret between Hans and Prince Gilbert?

Gradually, as Red Riding Hood starts to investigate the matter and other witnesses are spoken to, more revelations are made, including a secret that had existed between Hans and Prince Gilbert. A year before the present time, the prince had fallen madly in love with a maid of the castle named Remi. The woman also loved the prince, and they intended to marry each other. Gilbert knew that his father would object to the matter because of the difference in their social class, but he was sure that he could convince the king. However, Remi suddenly disappeared one day, never to be seen again. Gilbert believed that his father, King Bovell, must have done something to his lover, and out of anger, he secretly threw the royal crown into the trash.

The sly hairdresser, Hans, had found out about this incident and held this information against Prince Gilbert as a means of blackmail. The hairdresser also had his own secret, for despite being extremely skilled at his job, he was tremendously jealous of any woman with long, beautiful natural hair that he had not dressed for them. As a sort of twisted revenge, he would cut off the hair of these women and store them at his house. On the day of the ball, Prince Gilbert had found out about this when Hans came to meet him in the afternoon, but he could not do anything about it since the hairdresser threatened to reveal his secret too.

Instead, Hans blackmailed the prince into giving him an expensive mirror, which was a family heirloom. Although Gilbert initially agreed, he later decided not to cowardly carry forward this corrupt relationship and thought that he would confess about his crime to the king that night. When Hans’ messenger came to the castle later to collect the mirror, Gilbert turned him away. But because of this secret between the two men, Prince Gilbert is arrested on suspicion of murder. His claim that he had been on a stroll through the forest is not taken seriously by the king. However, Red Riding Hood finds a piece of thorn that had fallen from Gilbert’s clothes and proves that he must have taken the stroll since thorn bushes grew on that particular path. A woman in poor, shabby clothes also sneaks into the ballroom and provides an alibi for the prince. Although this woman’s face is hidden, her words are considered, and Prince Gilbert is released.

Had Margot committed the murder?

Red Riding Hood gets appointed as the official detective in this case, and that night, she makes some more progress when she finds Cinderella’s younger step-sister, Margot, hiding in the forest. Along with the others in her family, Margot was also extremely cruel and harsh to Cinderella, as she had apparently thrown away her shoes and then told her to go fetch raspberries for her. This, according to Cinderella, was the reason why she was barefoot and had scratches all over her feet at the beginning.

Now, when Red Riding Hood meets Margot and talks to her, she learns that the latter had received a letter from Hans that afternoon, asking her to go to his house so that he could style his hair. However, when Margot reached the place, she was hit by someone from behind, and the woman fainted from the blow. When she woke up, though, Margot found the bloodied whetstone in her hand and the dead body of Hans lying in front of her. She believed that she must have somehow committed the murder as revenge for Hans having cut Anne’s beautiful hair short.

It was then that Margot made a plan to dispose of the dead body in a way that would make it seem like the man had died in an accident. She took Hans’ body to the forest and then waited for a carriage to pass by on the road. As soon as she saw Cinderella and Red Riding Hood’s magical carriage, she threw the body in front of it and then hid herself in the forest. Although Red Riding Hood allows the guards to arrest Margot for being a bully, she also admits that the woman is not the real killer.

Who is the real killer of Hans?

It is in this phase of Once Upon a Crime that the film gets satisfyingly dark, for detective Red Riding Hood reveals that it was actually her friend and the supposed protagonist of the fairytale, Cinderella, who had actually committed the murder and hidden her act. On the afternoon of the ball, Cinderella had been wishing she could get beautiful by some means when Hans walked into the scene and offered to dress her hair and make her pretty. As Cinderella herself said, this fantasy world was obsessed with physical appearance and beauty, making it an almost necessary attribute. Like everyone else, though, Cinderella had also become obsessed with this same perception of beauty and agreed to Hans’ offer.

When the two went over to the hairdresser’s house, Hans tried to cut off Cinderella’s hair without her consent, out of his jealousy. The woman realized this in time, and in order to save her hair, she struck the man down with his whetstone and killed him. She then made the plan of inviting Margot to the place, knocking her unconscious, and fleeing the scene so that whoever would come to the house next would believe that Margot had committed the murder. This would have been the case, too, if Hans’ messenger had come to the place, but since Prince Gilbert had turned him down, Margot had all the time to carry out her different plan in order to save herself.

That afternoon, even before she had been approached by Hans, Cinderella had met with Tekla and got herself a pair of magical glass slippers. When she killed Hans, the woman had been wearing this very pair of shoes. When Margot came over, and Cinderella had to knock her unconscious with the whetstone, she failed to do so with the first blow. Instead, she had to take another hit, with a different weapon, and she used one of her glass slippers to hit her sister. One of the long heels had broken off from the impact, and it is this clue that Red Riding Hood uses to solve the crime. Later on, when Tekla once again sees Cinderella in the forest with Red Riding Hood, the fairy could not recognize her as the same woman she had earlier met since Barbara had already transformed Cinderella’s appearance into that of a princess. This meant that Cinderella actually had two pairs of glass slippers, one of which she used to commit the murder, and the other she wore to the ball.

Not only had Cinderella committed a gruesome murder, but she had also tried to hide her crime and blame it on others. Although she tries to deny the charges at first, when the first pair of glass slippers transform back into her own shoes after 24 hours, Cinderella confesses to all her crimes. As she is taken away by the guards, the woman asks Prince Gilbert for acceptance, but the man denies giving any consolation to the murderer.

Who does Prince Gilbert choose as his bride?

With the murder mystery solved, Prince Gilbert now has to choose a bride for himself, and Red Riding Hood solves another puzzle as well. Once upon a Crime‘s ending reveals to us that the woman in shabby clothes is none other than the prince’s original lover, Remi. One year ago, when the two were deeply in love, Remi had also been invited to Hans’ house by the cruel hairdresser, where he tried to cut off her beautiful long hair out of his very same jealousy. Remi somehow managed to escape the disaster, but she was left with a big scar on her cheeks from the scissors. Because of this scar, which made her less beautiful, Remi believed that Prince Gilbert would not accept her, and so she hid herself from him and society.

But Remi was still in love with the man, and she always kept a secret watch on him. Now, when Gilbert learns of this entire matter and also meets with Remi, he still confesses his love for her, stating that the scar or anything else would not lessen his feelings for his beloved. Soon, Remi and Gilbert marry with the blessings of King Bovell, and Red Riding Hood also attends the occasion. Traditional norms of beauty are promised to be changed in the kingdom, and Red Riding Hood takes her leave with the hopes of some new adventure that might be waiting on her way.

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Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya keeps an avid interest in all sorts of films, history, sports, videogames and everything related to New Media. Holding a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies, he is currently working as a teacher of Film Studies at a private school and also remotely as a Research Assistant and Translator on a postdoctoral project at UdK Berlin.

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