Sunday, March 26, 2017

Hello, Beauty. Hello, Beast.

I fell in love with Beauty and the Beast many years ago after seeing George C. Scott and his wife Trish Vandevere in the 1976 version. I was entranced. Although I saw it only once (we didn't have any-movie-I-want-on-demand-whenever back then!), it was my favorite movie for years. It defined Gothic romance for me.
Image result for beauty and the beast scott and vandevere
George C. Scott and Trish Vandevere
When Disney produced their animated version in 1991, I was beginning motherhood and would soon have 3 small children. Those Disney movies were favorites, both the old ones from my childhood and the new ones. For some reason this Beauty and the Beast was not a favorite that we watched over and over. So when Adam, Julia and I went to the theater this afternoon to see Disney's latest live-action version, and I asked Julia if she'd ever seen the movie before, she said no. She knew nothing of the story. She watched the fairy tale for the first time today with Emma Watson and Dan Stevens. We enjoyed it.

I quickly wondered how true the plot was to the original story line. When was the tale first written? How much had it changed?

If you care to read it, here's a link to the text of the story. It's a French tale written by a novelist called Villeneuve, published in 1740. (Unless I'm mistaken, in the new Disney version, the name of the French town where Belle lives is called Villeneuve, perhaps in honor of the author.) Apparently it was written to instruct young girls in the value of marrying a person of virtue instead of a handsome man or one full of cleverness. In other words, trust your father to arrange a good marriage for you with a man he finds worthy, and forget your attractions to the fellows with good looks or a way with words!

The text I linked to is a slightly abridged version done a few years later. You'll notice several glaring differences from the story according to Disney:
1. There is no Gaston. There is no Le Fou ("the fool"). There are no townspeople.
2. There are no talking teapots or otherwise engaging household implements.
3. Belle is one of six children. Her sisters in the story are the only real villains we see.
4. Beast is never, ever threatening or violent. No one is put in a dungeon. Belle is compelled to come stay with him, but he treats her gently from the beginning.
5. He proposes to her every evening. She sees him only each evening.
6. There's no magic rose slowly losing pedals. There is a curse, but it's not made as much of as in the movie.

The focus is much more on the family rather than on Belle's relationship with Beast.
Now I'll go over to Youtube and watch my favorite still -- Scott and Vandevere. It's slow, dark, and devoid of action, as you would expect from 1976. That's how I like it. Here's a sneak peak to entice you:

This is part 2 of 9. If you type the title into the Youtube search bar with the other numbers like this, you can watch them all.


  1. Oh, but I am too afraid to watch the clip! Your still image reminded me all of a sudden of watching this black and white movie as a small girl and being terrified. I don't think I can go back, isn't that funny?!

  2. I've watched a couple of the 10 minute segments. I plan to finish it tonight. Thanks for sharing! :)


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