Beauty and the Beast

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I've been fascinated by stories with the "beauty and the beast" motif/trope/whatever-you-wanna-call-it for years. This page is dedicated not just to the 1991 Disney movie, but to other iterations of the story that I've enjoyed, too.

Part 1: La Belle et la Bête (1946)

There are versions other than this that are easy to find on YouTube, but I decided to embed one here for easy access.

I only recently watched this version for the first time. It's a wonderfully strange trip. There are effects that I had no idea one could pull off in the 1940's, and considering that they're all either practical or using clever film manipulation, it's impressive and quite surreal. Every scene that takes place in the Beast's castle is dreamlike, and there's a lot of emphasis on the magical and animalistic nature of the Beast.

An interesting little tidbit is the inclusion of the characters Avenant and Ludovic, the former being Belle's fiancé and the latter being Belle's brother. They seem to be the inspirations for the Disney characters Gaston and Lefou, respectively, but I haven't read up on the actual inspirations for the characters. (For as much as I love Beauty and the Beast, I've mostly just consumed the media, not looked much into the making of each piece of media [yet]).

Part 2: "Beauty (or the Taste for the Beast)" (1925)

In 1925, the artist/writer Claude Cahun once wrote a series of monologues from the perspectives of great women in history and fiction. One of those women happened to be Belle.

Each of the monologues in this series (called Heroines) had a twist to them, and Belle's was no different. While the point of Beauty and the Beast is to find the person within, Cahun's monologue "Beauty (or the Taste for the Beast)" has Belle rejecting the prince and asking for another, "authentic monster." She actually fell for the Beast and not the man. It's very short and worth a read, so here is the English translation by Norman MacAfee:

—“You lied to me, Beast: you’re not a monster. It already took so much out of me to get used to your ugliness that I used up all my power to love. I am too weary. No, I would not take again, even in the opposite direction, the same road—if it were to return. I do not renounce my life. I have always been frank with you, whereas you have deceived me about your merchandise. In short, I withdraw my hand. The fairies are my witness, it is not to you that I made my promise.

“He wanders away from my sight with those perfect hips—which horrify me. He goes toward other hearts that make you loved in the end for yourself. When one has tasted the Beast—ah! how very insipid is man! I dedicated myself to your dead rings, to the slime of the reptile.

“But before leaving, give me, I beg of you, the address of another monster—an authentic monster.”

You can find the full text of Heroines in Inverted Odysseys, ed. Shelley Rice.