Beauty and the Beast (1991)
February 18, 2016 5:32 PM - Subscribe

Belle, whose father is imprisoned by the Beast, offers herself instead. Normally inanimate objects talk, sing and dance as the bookish Belle falls in love with her hairy, hunch-backed captor, spurning her beau and his incredibly thick neck.

NYTimes: If this "Beauty and the Beast" is a long way from Jean Cocteau's 1947 black-and-white version, it's also a long way from the original fairy tale, which has been largely jettisoned in favor of a more timely story. This film's Beauty, called Belle, is the smartest, best-read person in a small provincial French town. As such, she is hotly pursued by Gaston, the lantern-jawed he-man who is initially the butt of the film's jokes and later becomes its villain. "The most beautiful girl in town," Gaston decides about Belle, in his booming bass tones. "That makes her the best. And don't I deserve the best?" Thoughts like that make "Beauty and the Beast" an amusingly clear product of its time.

Roger Ebert
: “Beauty and the Beast,” like 1989's “The Little Mermaid,” reflects a new energy and creativity from the Disney animation people. They seem to have abandoned all notions that their feature-length cartoons are intended only for younger viewers, and these aren't children's movies but robust family entertainment.

Trailer

Siskel & Ebert

Prologue

Gaston

Be our guest
posted by MoonOrb (36 comments total)
 
This may be my favorite of the Disney princess movies, and it's definitely a high point for 1990's animation. The only thing that bugs me about it is when I realized that the prince had been cursed since age 10 or 11*, which seems like an awfully young age to be given such a harsh punishment for being mean to an old lady. And where are his parents? Was it just him and the servants?

*"The rose, which was truly an enchanted rose, would bloom until his 21st year." - Narrator
"Ten years we've been rusting, needing so much more than dusting..." - Lumiere

posted by Pater Aletheias at 6:55 PM on February 18, 2016 [4 favorites]


I use antlers in all of my dec-o-rating!
posted by Naberius at 8:16 PM on February 18, 2016 [5 favorites]


This is my favorite Disney princess movie also.

Pater: My headcanon justifies the timeline with the idea that the rose only blooms until his twenty-first birthday, after which the petals start to fall off at an unidentified rate. As proof I offer the old slashed portrait of the Beast's human face, which is clearly that of a young adult; either he was at least a teenager when cursed or the portrait magically aged with him.

More vexing to me: Mrs. Potts sends Chip to bed "into the cupboard, with your brothers and sisters." There's like a full formal teaset in there. How many children does Mrs. Potts have?!
posted by nicebookrack at 8:18 PM on February 18, 2016 [8 favorites]


This is my favorite of the Disney princess movies, too, for a few reasons, only one of which is because it's by far the best of them.

One reason is because when my wife and I went to Disneyland with friends of ours, my buddy really wanted to get his picture taken with Belle. He looked all over the park for them, and when he found them eventually he stood between them, one arm around Belle and the other he tried draping around the Beast's back. Except he wound up inadvertently reaching inside the Beast's costume and touching the actor's sweaty back. The snapshot doesn't show it, though, and he said the Beast stayed in character and didn't say anything to him.

The other reason is because way back in 1991, this is the first date that my wife and I went on, back when we were juniors in high school.
posted by MoonOrb at 8:24 PM on February 18, 2016


This movie is responsible for my unrealistic expectations regarding how much of a book collection I could reasonably own. I want my own library wing, dammit.

The whole kidnapping scenario is a bit sketch but the magical furniture/staff let me overlook that problematic aspect. Also the singing. I've never had grey stuff but I've always felt that I need to have it.
posted by toomanycurls at 9:18 PM on February 18, 2016 [7 favorites]


Gaston is my favorite Disney villain because unlike most of his competetion he's not so much evil as just a complete asshole big-fish-in-little-pond that's used to getting whatever he wants. He sets his sights on Belle purely because she's attractive and never pays the slightest mind to anything about her as a person. This strikes me as a depressingly realistic example of the sort of mundane real evil women can expect to encounter in the real world.

Also sorry nicebookrack but there's a direct-to-video movie from the era of shitty direct-to-video Disney sequels That explicitly shows the child prince getting cursed. So in some semi-canonical way even Disney has admitted to the crappy timeline.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 5:24 AM on February 19, 2016 [6 favorites]


The thing I always wondered was, with that castle full of human servants at the time, why the hell was the prince answering the door?
posted by tomboko at 6:30 AM on February 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


I have no opinion on this movie in general but the "No one X's like Gaston" song is the only Disney song they've made in 100 years I actually like.
posted by selfnoise at 6:47 AM on February 19, 2016


Gaston is my favorite Disney villain because unlike most of his competetion he's not so much evil as just a complete asshole big-fish-in-little-pond that's used to getting whatever he wants. He sets his sights on Belle purely because she's attractive and never pays the slightest mind to anything about her as a person. This strikes me as a depressingly realistic example of the sort of mundane real evil women can expect to encounter in the real world.

The irony is that, through the 'Princesses' merchandising, Disney has done the exact same thing. They lobotomized Belle. She's not just about dresses and roses, you cretins, she's about books!
posted by leotrotsky at 8:22 AM on February 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


The Disney marketing and merchandising department is staffed almost entirely with Gastons.

No one sells like Gaston
Markets Belle like Gaston
Turns young girls into empty shells like Gaston
"I do all my best work when I'm condescending!"
Oh what a salesman, Gaston!
posted by wabbittwax at 9:53 AM on February 19, 2016 [22 favorites]


>why the hell was the prince answering the door?

Two possibilities come to mind:

Because he's bored out of his mind.

Because he wants to scare people away.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:44 AM on February 19, 2016


Really, Disney blew it when they didn't make a sequel that was "Belle and Prince... Beast go on a quest to find and kick the ass of the Enchantress" it would involve them following the trail of Baleful Polymorph victims until they get to her. Guest starring Gaston in a Wheelchair.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 1:01 PM on February 19, 2016


Guest starring Gaston in a Wheelchair.

Wheelchair Gaston plays a mean game of Murderball. Until the day he meets his match, in more ways than one. Can he learn how to play the game ...of love?
posted by leotrotsky at 2:55 PM on February 19, 2016


Wheelchair Gaston plays a mean game of Murderball.

No one rolls like Gaston
Scores his goals like Gaston
No one carries a ball between poles like Gaston
posted by Parasite Unseen at 3:44 PM on February 19, 2016 [6 favorites]


My colostomy bag's for my defecating!
Nobody poops like Gaston!
posted by leotrotsky at 6:55 PM on February 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


OK, so in high school I felt like I was a little cooler, a little smarter, and a little more awesome than a lot of people I interacted with on a daily basis by virtue of being a bookish person who was going to go to college Far Away and not University of New Hampshire (because in high school, I was definitely a jerk). I wanted much more than this provincial life!!!!!!!! Anyway, Beauty and the Beast has always my favorite Disney movie, at least as soon as I was old enough to not be terrified of the wolves. And, my senior year of high school, we did Beauty and the Beast as our end of the year ballet performance and I was Belle. I don't have any pictures of the yellow dress, unfortunately, but wearing it was definitely the best way possible to finish off my high school experience and get ready to go explore life outside New Hampshire.

Still searching for a library wing, though.
posted by ChuraChura at 7:20 PM on February 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


I love this movie beyond all reason. Definitely the Gaston song is the single best song in any Disney musical ever. It makes me laugh every time I hear it and it isn't as though I don't know it by heart. But really, there isn't a single minute of dead weight in this movie. Every song moves the plot forward, every line serves a purpose. It's an unbelievably tight piece of filmmaking.

I'm still bitter it didn't win the best picture Oscar. My parents let me stay up late to watch and my friends and I were all so let down (and sleepy) the next morning.
posted by town of cats at 7:26 PM on February 19, 2016


Also, most Saturdays in high school I'd walk to the library from my house and walk home reading along the suburban streets of the west San Fernando Valley and at one point a school friend saw me out the window of his car and shouted my name apparently a bunch of times before he got my attention, and he teased me for weeks about my Belle lifestyle.

I also showed up at this guy's house once eating a whole carrot on the way to a party and he called me "Bugs" for quite a while so I guess I just reminded him of lots of high quality animation. Precious high school memories.
posted by town of cats at 7:32 PM on February 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Has the Gaston song supplanted "this is just to say" as the poem/song everybody riffs on yet?
posted by wabbittwax at 8:01 PM on February 19, 2016


Gosh it disturbs me to see all those plums
Alone in the icebox so bare
But it's true that I've been craving those plums
And though they're yours I don't care

No plums have flesh half as sweet
No plums have a colour so neat
No plums you've saved for breakfast do I more want to eat
Forgive me, they were delicious
So cold and so sweet
What's more they are so darn nutritious
This is just to say what an incredible treat.
posted by MoonOrb at 8:20 PM on February 19, 2016 [15 favorites]


Also my favorite Disney movie. Although I agree that thinking too much about the timing issues can make a brain hurt. Besides the age of the Prince/Beast discussed above, there is the length of Belle's captivity. From seasonal cues and the existence of the direct to video Christmas movie, it seems she was at the castle for months. And yet how long was Maurice wandering out in the cold woods looking for her? And wouldn't the skeptical townsfolk catch on to his worries if Belle doesnt show up for months?

Now I've got the song Gaston stuck in my head.
posted by weathergal at 9:18 PM on February 19, 2016


So, OK, to perpetrate a pretty massive tone shift - this movie is somewhat a metaphor about dying of AIDS, right? The Beast's clock is ticking and he's completely given up on finding someone who can look past this scary fact about him that's made him a depressive, angry, unlovable person, but his family sees it as his only chance at salvation and throws a last-minute blind date at him hoping against hope it'll work out?

Am I only seeing this reading because I know Howard Ashman died of AIDS so soon after it was completed? There's also the extremely obvious love-hate thing going on with traditional masculinity (and Belle's rejection of large elements of traditional femininity as it's been presented to her)...and the fact that Belle's ignorant small-town neighbors literally come to the Beast's house as an angry mob with torches when they find out she's shacked up with him...it's a pretty queer movie in general and I don't think the AIDS reading is an overreach. But I haven't really read anything on this, maybe this is a generally known fact about Beauty and the Beast and I'm just way behind.
posted by town of cats at 12:11 AM on February 20, 2016 [6 favorites]


I've never heard that before, about it being related to AIDS, but I see the connection. I suspect it's a lot like the Frozen-is-a-metaphor-for-being-gay/autistic (I've heard both) things, in that it was most likely not intended specifically to be that, but functions that way if you like.
posted by gloriouslyincandescent at 12:49 AM on February 20, 2016




I was always disappointed because I felt like the human-version of Beast was not hot.
posted by TwoStride at 8:21 PM on February 20, 2016 [7 favorites]


And seemed younger than Belle? I dunno, it was always a letdown at the big transformation at the end.
posted by TwoStride at 8:22 PM on February 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


They have a really hard time designing Prince Charming types at Disney. They all end up looking like cheap romance novel cover models. The Beast basically turns into Fabio.
posted by wabbittwax at 8:27 PM on February 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


I like your reading, town of cats. The most terrifying thing about Beast was his absolute despair. I remember watching it in the theater, and I was 15 I think -- young enough to be entertained by the dancing candlesticks et al but old enough to be completely unsettled by the viciousness of that Kill The Beast song:

Hear him roar, see him foam,
but we're not coming home,
'till he's dead, good and dead. Kill the beast!
...
Chorus: We don't like what we don't...
understand and in fact it scares us,
and this monster is mysterious at least.
Bring your guns, bring your knives,
save your children and and your wives,
so save our village and our lives!
LETS KILL THE BEAST!

No wonder. I can't even imagine what Ashman must have gone through.
posted by mochapickle at 12:04 AM on February 21, 2016


An amazing movie. Some trivia:

The final ballroom scene reuses footage from Sleeping Beauty, because the animators were running out of time.

The "flowers, chocolates, promises you don't intend to keep" line was ad-libbed by the actor who plays Cogsworth.

I've heard people complain that this movie encourages girls to romanticize abusive relationships, but it never particularly struck me that way. I have always thought that it would be interesting to see a gender-swapped version of this story, in which a man falls in love with a woman in spite of the fact that she is a hideous beast.
posted by chaiminda at 5:57 AM on February 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


I have always thought that it would be interesting to see a gender-swapped version of this story, in which a man falls in love with a woman in spite of the fact that she is a hideous beast.

Isn't that The Taming of the Shrew?

*ducks tomatoes and flees*
posted by leotrotsky at 6:01 PM on February 21, 2016


I know you were joking, but no. Katherine isn't ugly or hideous or scary, she's independent and kind of rude. Petruchio is no Belle who is there to rescue his father from Kate's clutches, he's there on a bet which he hopes will end by being paid to have sex with ladies.

Maybe also a stretch, but the story of Sir Gawain and the Loathly Lady might be a better gender-swapped analogue?
posted by ChuraChura at 7:14 PM on February 21, 2016


On a long road trip last summer, we listened to a LOT of Disney soundtracks, including this one, and got to talking about the one cut song, "Human Again," that was actually animated but didn't make it into the movie.

We figured out why the song doesn't work: it's too optimistic, too confident that everything's going to work out. What it needed, we decided, was a minor-key verse from the Beast, in which he longingly imagines being human again but doesn't actually expect it to happen. Something where he ends on a plaintive 'if I ever am human again...' to remind us that the rest of the castle is getting their hopes up too high.

(if you've ever seen the animated Anastasia, remember Dmitri's verse of "Paris Holds the Key to Your Heart"? That, basically.)

That said, I loooooooove this movie and Belle is definitely my favorite Disney heroine. God, that library.
posted by nonasuch at 9:53 AM on February 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


You're looking for something along the lines of If I Can't Love Her from the musical!

And in my twisted face
There's not the slightest trace
Of anything that even hints of kindness
And from my tortured shape
No comfort, no escape
I see, but deep within is utter blindness
Hopeless
As my dream dies
As the time flies

posted by ChuraChura at 5:16 PM on February 22, 2016


I was always disappointed because I felt like the human-version of Beast was not hot.

I distinctly remember my sister and I audibly saying "ewww" when the beast turned into a human.
posted by littlesq at 8:10 PM on February 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


I was always disappointed because I felt like the human-version of Beast was not hot.

I feel like perhaps you're missing the point of the movie.
posted by leotrotsky at 11:14 AM on October 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


I feel like perhaps you're missing the point of the movie.

...that attraction to furry humanoids is normal and natural?
posted by chaiminda at 3:23 AM on October 29, 2016


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