Thursday, December 2, 2010

Disney's Magic (Part 6)

The original poster in 1991
Another fairy tale that has no origins from the Brothers Grimm stories (such as The Little Mermaid) is Beauty and the Beast. This fairy tale is based on a story by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont, which is known as La Belle et la BĂȘte (French word for Beauty and the Beast). [As extracted from the exhibition] In the Disney version, Beauty, called Belle, is the only child of an absent-minded inventor. She possesses the same selfless qualities as the original Beauty, but is far more independent. For the production of this film, film-makers even visited the French countryside as to seek reference for castles, medieval buildings and churches. Apart from that, they even went to the extent of studying works of great French Rocco paintersA fact that most people may not know about this animation production is that it is the first animated film to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture.This film, which was put onto big screens in 1991, even won 2 Academy awards and 3 Golden Globe Awards. In fact, Disney Studio also made a sequel to this film (apart from other classic films like Cinderella), Beauty and the Beast : The Enchanted Christmas, which also won 2 awards out of 8 nominations. 

Now maybe some people is wondering what animal does the Beast represent? The answer is no particular animal on this planet Earth. This is because the image of the Beast is a combination of various animals. The Beast has a face of a mandrill, brows of a gorilla, muzzle of a buffalo, tusks of a boar, neck hair of an ibis, body of a bear atop and finally legs and tail of a wolf. So as the Beast has such a ferocious outward appearance, thus Disney Studio featured the Beast with haunting eyes which would later make Belle fall in love with him. Other interesting characters in the film include Mrs Pott, Cogsworth and Lumiere (the flirty candle stand). And last but not least the antagonist of the film, Gaston, who is popular among the ladies in town and is interested to Belle who is indifferent to him. (I guess good looks, a muscular figure and a good voice just can't make Belle fall in love with Gaston who has a bad personality).
Belle and the Beast
Lumiere, Cogsworth and Mrs Pott
One feature that makes Beauty and the Beast distinguishable from other fairy tale production is the way Disney Studio begins and ends the film. Unlike Snow White, this film does not start with a book flipping through pages. Instead, Disney's production team captures the period (14th Century France) through the use of medieval stained glass windows to recount the tale of the selfish prince who is placed under a spell that can only be broken if he finds love before the last petal of a magic rose falls. 
The start of the film in stained glass windows art 
The ending of the film
The magical rose in glass
Among the highlights after the Beast returns to his human form again that I find rather captivating (besides all the other cursed items in the castle becoming in to human again) is the transformation of the castle from an evil, dark and somehow creepy building (with statues of ogres and demons) to a bright and magnificent castle again (Well, of course the magical effect is as magnificent as in Cinderella but just that the musical effect isn't as good as in Cinderella).
Part of the creepy castle before transformation
The transformation from dark and creepy to a bright castle
What's a good Disney film without good songs? I bet most of us can definitely remember songs like 'Be Our Guest' and the theme song 'Beauty and the Beast' (pop version sang by Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson). And yes, for the ending of the fairy tale, after the Beast finds true love despite his inhuman appearance, he lives happily with Belle in that castle, where they are seen dancing together happily at the end of the film. 
Belle and the now human, Beast
To end, I would like to share about a little thoughts of Juan who stated that the film is a love story between a human and a beast. Well, I wouldn't disagree with her statement but I do tend to think that the Beast is human, just in the form of a Beast due to a spell (whereby I interpret it like a human putting on a mask). So let's not make things complicated and simply treat this film as a fairy tale, which is fictional and sometimes never logical. 

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