One day a girl named Mary-Lou and her con artist mother arrive in town, offering to "read" people's fortunes. She then meets Mr. Bottle, and tricks him into agreeing to marry her. Mary-Lou and her mother torment Maria, treating her like a servant.
One day the prince of the kingdom stumbles upon the stepsisters in the forest, and witnesses Mary-Lou being cruel to Maria. Mary-Lou, thinking that the prince is just a common hunter, steals his horse and rides off. The prince and Maria spend some time alone together and fall in love. The prince gives Maria a garnet stone necklace, telling her that it will bring them together again. They part ways.
One night Mary-Lou sees Maria admiring her garnet stone necklace by a well. Jealous, Mary-Lou grabs the necklace and drops it into the well.
In the royal castle, the king gives the prince his approval to marry a common girl. A proclamation is made to the people that the "girl with the garnet stone" has to go the castle, where she will wed the prince. All the girls of marrying age quickly find garnet stone necklaces and rush to the palace. Mary-Lou and her mother manage to get a garnet stone from the local cobbler, but when they go to the palace Mary-Lou realises that the prince is the hunter from the woods, and the necklace she needs to become queen is the one that was given to Maria.
Maria herself is unaware of the proclamation. Mary-Lou slyly offers to help Maria retrieve the necklace from the bottom of the well. When Mary-Lou reveals her intentions, the two girls struggle and fall into the well. There they meet a Frog King, who tells them that the necklace has been taken by the magical Mrs. Holle.
The two girls end up in the magical realm of Mrs. Holle. They make their way to Mrs. Holle's house, along the way encountering various magical creatures and things in need of help. At each point Maria happily helps the creatures, while Mary-Lou refuses. When they end up at Mrs. Holle's house, Mrs. Holle explains that they have to stay a while, because the door leading to their world is closed. Maria agrees to stay and help Mrs. Holle with her chores, but Mary-Lou leaves to find her own way back. In the end Mary-Lou reluctantly returns to the house, and Mrs. Holle sends both girls back home.
The entire village watches as the two girls are magically returned from the well. Mrs. Holle appears in the sky and says, "What you have done of your own accord, you both shall receive your just reward." Maria's clothes transform to a beautiful gown, and the garnet stone necklace appears around her neck. As for Mary-Lou, pitch falls on to her clothes. The prince arrives, and is reunited with Maria, taking her to the castle to be married. Mary-Lou reluctantly agrees to marry the cobbler.
- Original Black and White German release by Gamma Films in 1973 in theatres
- Colour version Released in West Germany and Italy in 1975
- First release in the US by G.G. Communications in 1976
- Several version were released in France during 1980
- A NTSC French-dubbed version was released by Prima Vidéo inc. on VHS in the 80's
- The English-dubbed version of the film was released on DVD on November 7, 2006.