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Animated Beauty and the Beast vs. Live Action Beauty and the Beast
Disney’s romantic animated musical fantasy film Beauty and the Beast was produced in 1991. Unknown to many viewers around the world, this film is an adaptation of “la Belle et la Bete,” a French fairy tale was written by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve, a French novelist. The film has now had twenty-five years to grow to be the most dominant way Beauty and the Beast story is perceived. Many of the viewers believe that Beauty and the Beast animated action film has some shoes to fill regarding the complexity and depth of each of the main characters, mainly Belle, the Beast aka The Prince, and Gaston as well as their back stories that serve as essential building blocks to their characters.
The depth provided by the character of Belle is different when comparing the animation and the action film. In the animation, Belle is portrayed as an awkward bookworm (Tang 1). It is seen that Belle wishes that her father would tell her about her mother, yet the mother is never spoken of between Belle and her father, Maurice. The ending is also a bit simplistic because when Belle tells the Beast, “I love you,” and the curse is broken and everything and everyone is returned to how they were before the enchantment was placed.
The depth of the character Belle is, however, more extensive in the action film. She is revealed to be highly intelligent as she is seen trying to free herself with her knowledge and share some with the others as she questions them as to why they do not leave. It is also revealed that her mother died in a plague (Spiegel 1). According to Gajanan, “this backstory [about her mother] adds dimension to Belle’s character, providing a foundation for her to better understand the Beast and his life.” (Gajanan) The opening of the film depicts her teaching a young girl how to read while some villager onlookers’ scowl at her for using her creation of what we would consider a washing machine today. Lee writes, in her article for the Hollywood Reporter, this deepening of Bell’s character is essential in the film because her intelligence helps in evening out the ostracism between the Beast and Belle. It is her intellect that helps her learn about the enchantment and how it transforms everyone. (Lee)
A significant difference exists in the two forms in terms of the depth of the character for the Beast, also known as The Prince. In the animated film, there is little to learn in terms of the background of the Prince and why he acts as he does, like getting transformed into the Beast. His beginning story is only shown with stain- glass windows and narration. The viewer can recognize that he has little interest in books when he gives Belle his library not knowing much about anything contained within its walls. The Beast has a personality that is quick to anger. Everyone tries not to upset him as he has a terrible temper. Even with his temper, you see a glimpse of him being shy and not wanting anyone to know of the enchantment that has been placed on him until his 21st birthday (Tang 1).
On the other hand, in the action film, the Prince does not get turned into a beast right at the beginning of the film. This is because the action film begins differently by doing away with the stain glass style and replacing it with an expansion of why and how the Prince was transformed into the beast. There is a rich background to the action film because the Prince is seen to interact with the people of the town holding a ball. It is during this back story that one witnesses as the Enchantress enters the party disguised as a beggar (Lee, 2017). When she is told to leave the party and laughed at by the Prince and his friends, it is then that she casts an enchantment on the Prince and everyone in the castle transforming him into the Beast and his servants into various household objects. The enchantment makes the other villagers in attendance of the ball forgot about the Prince and the place along with the servants that have been transformed.
Regarding Gaston, this character is depicted differently in the two genres. In the animated film according to Lee, “a goofy egomaniac.” (Lee) He plans a wedding to Belle before asking her to marry him along with coercing others in the village to do things for him, just because they are in awe of his “magnificence.” Gaston is little more than a bully from the village who likes to devote his time to hunting and thinking about women. He is also impulsive as seen by his advances to Belle and his reaction to her rejection every time he tries to make advances towards her.
In the action film, Gaston’s according to Lieberman, in Ashly Lee’s article in the Hollywood Reporter, has to be taken as a “real, face-value villain, not just this goofy guy.” (Lee) He is presented as a captain who has just recently returned from war as a hero and full of himself (Tang). He has set his sight for his next challenge- making Belle his wife, as she is the only female in the town that has no interest in him. However, he is still a villain because while attempting to rescue Belle together with Maurice from the castle, things do not go according to plan and he leaves Maurice to die tied to a tree (Gajanan).
Many of the elements of the original animated film have been implemented into the live action version of the story of the beauty and the beast. While I was skeptical of how the live-action version could ever hold up to the animated classic that has held a treasured place in my heart since my high school French class days, I was pleasantly surprised. For me, the live action version is better than the animated classic. This is because, as demonstrated, Belle is much more of a strong female character while the beast has a strong back story to tell of his pompousness at the beginning of the film. Furthermore, Gaston is shown as a more complex villain.
- Gajanan, Mahita. “Beauty and the Beast: Differences from Original Movie.” Time, 17 Mar. 2017, www.time.com/4702119/beauty-and-the-beast-differences-original-version/. Web.
- Lee, A. ‘Beauty and the Beast’: 9 Differences Between the Live-Action and Animated Movies — and Why They Matter. The Hollywood Reporter, 16 Mar. 2017, .www.hollywoodreporter.com/lists/beauty-beast-differences-between-animated-live-action-movies-why-they-matter-986622. Web.
- Spiegel, Josh. “The New Beauty and the Beast Compared to the Original.” Film: Blogging the Reel World, 20 Mar. 2017, www.slashfilm.com/beauty-and-the-beast-compared-to-the-original/. Web.
- Tang, Estelle. “21 Of the Biggest Differences in the New Live-Action ‘Beauty and the Beast’.” ELLE, 11 Oct. 2017, www.elle.com/culture/movies-tv/news/a43534/beauty-and-the-beast-biggest-differences-original-spoilers/. Web.
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