Director - Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise
Over the past months, Elliot and I have frequently found ourselves singing songs from Beauty and the Beast. Usually singing Gaston's parts as we thought he was awesome. So, finally, I snaffled the DVD from my Disney obsessed sister and sat down with old Mr Biddle to watch the quality film.
Now, don't get me wrong, I LOVE this film. But there are some huge differences between watching it as a 7 year old in the cinema (which I once did) and watching it now as a world weary cynical bastard.... some of the film just doesn't quite add up.
I think we should look at this first - so that I can end this entry with me talking about the sheer magnitude of stuff I love about it!
The problem is that essentially.... the plot is flawed.
The story begins....
An old woman visits a prince in his castle asking to stay at the castle for the night in return for a rose. The prince refuses. The old woman turns out to be a beautiful enchantress who curses the Prince. Turning him into a horrific beast, he is told that if he doesn't find love by his 21st birthday he will be doomed to stay a beast forever.
Now, this is all well and good. Some would in fact say that it is a pretty standard fantasy plot and that is true, normally I would have no qualms with such a set up. If it wasn't for a small line in the song Be Our Guest.
Life is so unnerving
For a servant who's not serving
He's not whole without a soul to wait upon
Ah, those good old days when we were useful...Suddenly those good old days are gone
Ten years we've been rusting
Needing so much more than dusting
Needing exercise, a chance to use our skills!
Most days we just lay around the castle
Flabby, fat and lazy
You walked in and oops-a-daisy!
Ten years! TEN! That means.... the prince must have been 10 when that enchantress came to visit. Oh, how different the story suddenly looks. It isn't a wise woman punishing a blustering selfish fool for his arrogance. NO! It is a pious sanctimonious little bitch who has decided she has the authority to judge everyone. Even children. We can assume he is orphaned as there is no mention of his parents (even as a 20 year old he would have probably had his parents about the place) and lives under the guardianship of his servants (I'd assume Lumiere and Cogsworth). It makes sense that he would be uneasy to let a random old woman into his home. However, that's not enough, the enchantress views herself as judge, jury and executioner and curses the poor child and all the castle's INNOCENT occupants to a lifetime of monsterous deformity with one weak reprieve - fall in love in the next decade. As a 10 year old, the prince probably has no thoughts for women. He probably dislikes them, and he lives in an isolated castle where he can't really meet anyone. It is quite fair to say that this enchantress is just a bit of a horrible bitch.
The cursed decade also opens up another interesting quandary.... Chip. How old is Chip? 8? Have the servants been in suspended animation, never growing older as they sit in their cupboards? We know the beast has been aging, or the deadline to the curse is a bit of a moot point. So it is safe to assume that the whole castle is under the same curse and at some time.... Mrs Potts (who is definitely at an age where she would be post menopausal) got funky. As a Tea Pot. And gave birth to a cup. Further curiosity as to why Chip wasn't more bewildered or confused by his new human form. All he asks is if he should still sleep in the cupboards.
And finally.... just how many servants does the Beast have? Are we supposed to believe that each cup, knife and plate is a single servant. Do 5 mops maybe represent 1 cleaner? Because if each object is a servant, there must be easily 500 people in that castle. Don't believe me? Ask the dishes. Be Our Guest only deals with Kitchenware.... there is evidence of hundreds of animated objects in every corner of the cracked and dusty castle.
WHICH REMINDS ME (I know I said 'and finally' with the criticisms, but I lied - sue me). The servants have been sitting around in that castle for a decade. What have they been doing, because they've let the place fall to shit. They haven't had to sleep, or eat, or go to town.... they have no distractions. Yet, they clearly just sit about at home pretending to be furniture. Far to busy standing utterly still to do any of their servant duties. I'd be an angry beast too if I had such idle staff. I certainly wouldn't be paying them!
It is in the 'Human Again' deleted scene that those lazy bums finally get to work and tidy the house making it look all still cursed but much prettier.
So, what do I like about the film. Because there is a lot about this film that I like.
1) The songs. I am of the firm belief that Beauty and the Beast has the best songs of any Disney film. The earlier films are too high and warbly. Even films like the Lion King which I consider to be far superior to Beauty and the Beast doesn't have the same excellent songs as Be Our Guest or anything Gaston has.
2) Gaston is just plain excellent. Brilliant. We love him (we being Elliot and I, rather than the royal we). We love his arrogance. We love his taste in interior decorating, we love his rippling hairy abs. We are not as gay as we sound.....
The Gaston song is the best song in the film... and pretty much everyone of his lines is classic gold
I'd like to thank you all for coming to my wedding. But first I'd better go in there and propose to the girl.
It's not right for a woman to read. Soon she starts getting *ideas*, and *thinking*...
The man is comedy brilliance. An egocentric, chauvinistic buffoon. Whats not to love. He reminds me of Bruce Campbell, which (as I've frequently made clear) can never be a bad thing.
3) Finally.... I love Belle. I think she is totally my favourite Disney Princess, definitely the prettiest. Toby says Jasmine but that is too obviously lust fueled by midriffs (and he said he liked her because she was Indian.... when she would be Middle Eastern... twit). I think it all stems from when I had a lovely time in a shop in Disney land flirting a bit with one of the shop staff, only to find out at a later date, that she was Belle in the Disney parade. She gave me a kiss and Belle cemented her position as my all time forever favourite Disney Princess.
-True Story folks