Today’s the day all of us Beauty and the Beast fans have been waiting for! The day that Beauty and the Beast comes out in theaters! In honor of this exciting day, today, Charlie from thatisthespell will be doing a post all about Beauty and the Beast! I would like to say before he begins, please, go check out his everything Disney blog because I love his blog, and it is pretty awesome!
Hey guys! I’m Charlie from thatisthespell guest blogging about the impact of the infamous animated film Beauty and the Beast. I hope you enjoy!
Today’s the day. It is the 17th March 2017, the day all of our dreams come true. Beauty and the Beast is finally out and I can’t wait to see it. As the film has just been released and I have been given the wonderful opportunity to guest blog for Natalie, I thought it would be apt to talk about Beauty and the Beast as a feature film and the impression it has had.
The story of Beauty and the Beast is timeless and is without a doubt one of the most well known animated features. I won’t bore you too much with the all-familiar story, but as an introduction, here it is in short. The main focus is the relationship that forms between the Beast, a prince who has been magical transformed into a monster as punishment for his selfish ways, and Belle, a young and open minded woman whom is imprisoned in his castle. To become a prince again, the Beast must win the love of another, or remain a beast forever.
The movie became a global success, grossing $425 million worldwide. Our leading lady Belle was added to the Disney Princess line-up, further straight-to-DVD features were made, and there is a great deal of representation in the Disney parks. It won the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy) and became the first animated film to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. It was a game changer for Disney, and as the National Film Registry nicely puts it, it was very much culturally, historically and aesthetically significant.
Attempts to make Beauty and the Beast were actually made way back when in the 1930s and the 1950s, but were given up and I personally think for the best as we would not have the film we have today. Linda Woolverton, a key player in the making of the film, was the leading screenwriter for the film. When interviewed in the early 90s, she spoke of having a feminist sensibility, relating to our Belle in the sense that she wanted to get out there and do things. Belle, as a character and as a woman, was to become one of Disney’s biggest role models, and for good reason. She is an independent heroine, who wanted more in life than just a hunky guy. It is clear throughout the entire film that she was made to be more than just a traditional damsel in distress.
Not only was Belle this brand new leading lady, but also the woman behind her characterisation fought to shape Belle into a great role model. Woolverton was the first woman to write an animated Disney film, and it is so fitting that it happens to be this one. It signifies everything about the Disney renaissance, this sense of a huge change and a change to be celebrated. In one scene, Woolverton wrote Belle sticking pins into a map, indicating all the places she wanted to visit. However, when it came to storyboarding, Belle had been rewritten into decorating a cake. I know, how cliché. Woolverton rightly protested, and a compromise was made. She had her nose stuck in a book.
This story highlights that even though Woolverton wasn’t winning every battle, it was still a victory for the character of Belle. For me, she signifies a better way of giving children, and especially young girls, a chance to have a positive role model. We currently live in a culture in which Disney female characters continue to have such an impact in our society. Belle was the forefront of this change. Even due to this compromise of a book-loving Belle, it meant so many girls could relate to her. I hear it all the time, I related to Belle, as she liked to read just like me, it is everything Woolverton intended.
Originally, the film was going to be a non-musical film. Can you even imagine? But Disney chairman Jeffery Katzenberg had ordered that the film should be a musical, just like The Little Mermaid. Lyricist Howard Ashman and composer Alan Menken wrote the films songs, the film in fact dedicated to Ashman’s memory, dying eight months before the films release.
With The Little Mermaid came the infamous ‘I want song’ and Part of Your World was truly iconic. However, I would argue that it was Beauty and the Beast that confirmed this trend of making Disney films into fully established musicals. The first song in the film is in fact my favourite. Ashman and Howard composed this crazy and long opening number, something that was really ambitious. It was absolutely loved by those working on the film. It wasn’t common to open an animated film with such a song, but Belle redefined that rule. The Little Mermaid was a test for this change, but Beauty and the Beast proved it could work. The song is an entire Broadway ensemble piece, where individualized characters come forward to sing their line in a big show-tune way. I love it and it carries on through the film. Big showstoppers such as Gaston and Be Our Guest were created to be big numbers. And then in comparison we have the sweet Something There as the romantic duet and of course the title song Beauty and the Beast.
The music of the film had a huge influence else where in the word, most importantly New York. Menken and Ashman created a mammoth musical animated film, going on to become a fully-fledged musical on the stage. It brought the influences of Broadway full circle, ending up where the animated film came from. It was the first animated film to be adapted into a musical, and it took Broadway by storm. Some were sceptic, but it appealed to the masses and was loved by many. The songs are so memorable and so worldly celebrated, winning Best Original Score and Best Original Song at the Academy Awards.
For many, and with most Disney animated films, the songs become the soul of the film and this rings so true with Beauty and the Beast. It proves that by showcasing a whole cast of voice talents, rather than just one performer, it allows each song to hold their own, and any one of them could easily be considered as one of the greatest Disney songs to be made.
The last thing I want to talk about and I feel is really important for the Disney community, is the impact the film has had in the Disney parks and through merchandise. It is a key way to get the films engrained in our memories and to perpetuate our love for them. We show our love for our favourite Disney films by buying certain products or by choosing our favourite attractions. I think as well, the success of the film can be seen within how well it does in terms of the media franchise it creates.
We of course have the infamous Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage performed at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It has a huge cult following and is a must see attraction across the entire Walt Disney World resort. Most recently we have had the Be Our Guest restaurant opening over in Fantasyland, which is arguably one of Disney’s most sought out places to eat whilst visiting the Magic Kingdom. I would definitely say it is much more represented over in Orlando, but most Disney parades and firework shows across the world do feature Beauty and the Beast quite heavily. I think with the release of the new film too, we are going to see a lot more of it, already seen at Anaheim with the new themed restaurant the Red Rose Taverne.
Just having this within the parks and the merchandise in our Disney stores is a key player for us hard-core fans. It allows us to show continuous love and support for a movie we fell in love with, and are still in love with. I could be biased, but my only memory from my first time in Walt Disney World is Beauty and the Beast related. At the age of 6, I was asked to come into the parade and hold one of the cakes for the Be Our Guest sequence. I was in complete awe. Annoyingly, it wasn’t caught on film like the rest of the holiday, but ironically it is the only thing I can truly remember. It wouldn’t be Walt Disney World for me without seeing something Beauty and the Beast related in the afternoon parade. It is pure nostalgia.
Right, let’s wrap this up. It’s time to get punchy. Beauty and the Beast for me, occupies the post as the peak of Disney’s Renaissance period, proving to be completely brilliant and influential to this day. I think as a film it really does stand apart from Disney’s other modern hits, ultimately I think due to the late Howard Ashman. His shoes are hard to fill, and so is the legacy he left behind with Beauty and the Beast. His entire spirit can be felt within the film and it is arguably something that is missing in films that were released after.
Creatively, culturally and musically Beauty and the Beast epitomises everything the Walt Disney Animations Studios had created between its Golden Age and to the present day. It holds both old-fashioned and modern aspects, and is more progressive than the Disney princess films of the past. It stands out because of a heroine who had more to her life than just the desire to meet a man and a male lead that is painfully flawed right up until the very end. It is an epic feature in its own right and I think the remake is only going to enhance that, proving Beauty and the Beast is one of the best Disney animated films ever created.
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