Beauty and the Beast
"Beauty and the Beast" (French: La Belle et la Bête) is a traditional fairy tale. The first published version was a rendition by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve, published in La jeune américaine, et les contes marins in 1740. The best-known written version was an abridgement of her work published in 1756 by Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont, in Magasin des enfants, ou dialogues entre une sage gouvernante et plusieurs de ses élèves; an English translation appeared in 1757.
Variants of the tale are known across Europe. In France, for example, Zémire et Azor is an operatic version of the story, written by Marmontel and composed by Grétry in 1771, which had enormous success well into the 19th century; it is based on the second version of the tale. Amour pour amour, by Nivelle de la Chaussée, is a 1742 play based on Villeneuve's version.
A wealthy merchant lives in a mansion with his three daughters. They are all very beautiful, but only the youngest, twenty-year-old Belle, is lovely and pure of heart; her sisters, in contrast, are wicked and selfish. The merchant eventually loses all of his wealth in a tempest at sea. He and his daughters are consequently forced to live in a small farmhouse and work for their living. After some years of this, the merchant hears that one of the trade ships he had sent off has arrived back in port, having escaped the destruction of its compatriots. He returns to the city to discover whether it contains anything valuable. Before leaving, he asks his daughters if they would like him to bring any gifts back for them. The oldest two ask for jewels and fine dresses, thinking that his wealth has returned. Belle is satisfied with the promise of a rose, as none grow in their part of the country. The merchant, to his dismay, finds that his ship's cargo has been seized to pay his debts, leaving him without money to buy his daughters their presents.
During his return, the merchant becomes lost in a forest. Seeking shelter, he enters a dazzling palace. He finds tables inside laden with food and drink, which seem to have been left for him by the palace's invisible owner. The merchant accepts this gift and spends the night there. The next morning as the merchant is about to leave, he sees a rose garden and recalls that Belle had desired a rose. Upon picking the loveliest rose he can find, the merchant is confronted by a hideous 'Beast', which tells him that for taking his most precious possession after accepting his hospitality, the merchant must die. The merchant begs to be set free, arguing that he had only picked the rose as a gift for his youngest daughter. The Beast agrees to let him give the rose to Belle, but only if the merchant will return.
The merchant is upset, but accepts this condition. The Beast sends him on his way, with jewels and fine clothes for his daughters, and stresses that Belle must never know about his deal. The merchant, upon arriving home, tries to hide the secret from Belle, but she pries it from him and willingly goes to the Beast's castle. The Beast receives her graciously and informs her that she is now mistress of the castle, and he is her servant. He gives her lavish clothing and food and carries on lengthy conversations with her. Every night, the Beast asks Belle to marry him, only to be refused each time. After each refusal, Belle dreams of a handsome prince who pleads with her to answer why she keeps refusing him, to which she replies that she cannot marry the Beast because she loves him only as a friend. Belle does not make the connection between the handsome prince and the Beast and becomes convinced that the Beast is holding the prince captive somewhere in the castle. She searches and discovers multiple enchanted rooms, but never the prince from her dreams.
For several months, Belle lives a life of luxury at the Beast's palace, having every whim catered to by servants, with no end of riches to amuse her and an endless supply of exquisite finery to wear. Eventually she becomes homesick and begs the Beast to allow her to go see her family. He allows it on the condition that she return exactly a week later. Belle agrees to this and sets off for home with an enchanted mirror and ring. The mirror allows her to see what was going on back at the Beast's castle, and the ring allows her to return to the castle in an instant when turned three times around her finger. Her older sisters are surprised to find her well fed and dressed in finery. They are envious when they hear of her happy life at the castle, and, hearing that she must return to the Beast on a certain day, beg her to stay another day, even putting onion in their eyes to make it appear as though they are weeping. They hope that the Beast will be angry with Belle for breaking her promise and eat her alive. Belle's heart is moved by her sisters' false show of love, and she agrees to stay.
Belle begins to feel guilty about breaking her promise to the Beast and uses the mirror to see him back at the castle. She is horrified to discover that the Beast is lying half-dead from heartbreak near the rose bushes her father had stolen from and she immediately uses the ring to return to the Beast.
Upon returning, Belle finds the Beast almost dead, and she weeps over him, saying that she loves him. When her tears strike him, the Beast is transformed into the handsome prince from Belle's dreams. The Prince informs her that long ago a fairy turned him into a hideous beast after he refused to let her in from the rain, and that only by finding true love, despite his ugliness, could the curse be broken. He and Belle are married and they live happily ever after together.
Villeneuve's tale includes several elements that Beaumont's omits. Chiefly, the back-story of both Belle and the Beast is given. The Beast was a prince who lost his father at a young age, and whose mother had to wage war to defend his kingdom. The queen left him in care of an evil fairy, who tried to seduce him when he became an adult; when he refused, she transformed him into a beast. Belle's story reveals that she is not really a merchant's daughter but the offspring of a king and a good fairy. The wicked fairy had tried to murder Belle so she could marry her father the king, and Belle was put in the place of the merchant's dead daughter to protect her. She also gave the castle elaborate magic, which obscured the more vital pieces of it. Beaumont greatly pared down the cast of characters and simplified the tale to an almost archetypal simplicity.
The urban opening is unusual in fairy tales, as is the social class of the characters, neither royal nor peasants. It may reflect the social changes occurring at the time of its first writing.
The tale has been notably adapted for screen, stage, prose, and television over the years.
- Beastly, written by Alex Flinn, sets the story in modern day Manhattan.
- Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast and Rose Daughter both by author Robin McKinley.
- Belle: A Retelling of Beauty and the Beast by Cameron Dokey, and Spirited by Nancy Holder, both part of the Once Upon A Time.
- East by Edith Pattou, based on the story East of the Sun and West of the Moon a Norse variation.
- The Fire Rose by Mercedes Lackey, part of the Elementals series.
- Beauty and the Werewolf by Mercedes Lackey, part of the Five Hundred Kingdoms series.
- Beast by Donna Jo Napoli A retelling set in Persia and told in the beast's point of view.
- Roses & Thorns : Beauty and the Beast Retold by Chris Anne Wolfe, a retelling of the classic story where both protagonists are female.
- Beauty and the Beast ... The Story Retold. Laura E. Richards. London: Blickie & Son, 1886. Also, Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1886.
- A French version entitled La Belle et la Bête was made in 1946, directed by Jean Cocteau, starring Jean Marais as the Beast and Josette Day as the Beauty. This version adds a subplot involving Belle's suitor Avenant. In 1994, Philip Glass wrote an opera, "La Belle et la Bête", based on Cocteau's film. Glass's composition follows the film scene by scene, effectively providing a new original soundtrack for the movie.
- A 1952 animated feature film The Scarlet Flower directed by Lev Atamanov and produced at the Soyuzmultfilm. It was restored at the Gorky Film Studio in 1987 and is now widely available on several video and DVD editions in Russia (an English-subtitled version has not been released).
- A 1962 version directed by Edward L. Cahn, starring Joyce Taylor and Mark Damon, had the Beast as a prince who transformed into werewolf at night, with makeup by Universal's Jack Pierce.
- In 1987, The Cannon Group and Golan-Globus Productions released Beauty and the Beast, a musical live action version, directed by Eugene Marner, starring John Savage as Beast, and Rebecca De Mornay as Beauty, with original music by Lori McKelvey. It was released on VHS in 1988 by Cannon Video, and on DVD in 2005 by MGM Home Entertainment.
- In 1991, Walt Disney Feature Animation produced a musical animated film entitled Beauty and the Beast, directed by Kirk Wise & Gary Trousdale, with a screenplay by Linda Woolverton, and songs by Alan Menken & Howard Ashman. Like the 1946 version, the Disney version also names Beauty "Belle" and gives her a handsome suitor (here named Gaston) who eventually plots to kill the Beast.
- Children's film producer Diane Eskenazi produced Beauty and the Beast, directed by Masakazu Higuchi and Chinami Namba, for Golden Films in 1993. The film, which relied on moderate animation techniques but was mostly faithful to the original tale, featured classical compositions as opposed to an original soundtrack, featuring the works of many well-known popular composers.
- The theme of the music video "I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)" by Meat Loaf released in 1993 is adapted from Beauty and the Beast.
- A 2003 Viking period film directed by David Lister was alternately known as Beauty and the Beast and Blood of Beasts.
- A dark version of the fairy tale updated to modern times, director Robert Beaucage's 2008 film Spike was described (at its premiere at the Edinburgh International Film Festival where it was chosen as part of the Best of the Fest) as "Angela Carter rewriting La Belle et la Bête as an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer".
- Another modern take on Beauty and the Beast is Beastly, starring Alex Pettyfer as the beast (named Kyle) and Vanessa Hudgens as the love interest (named Lindy). Directed by Daniel Barnz and based on the novel by Alex Flinn, it was released on 18 March 2011. The story places the basics of the original fairy tale in the context of a contemporary American high school. The film also features Neil Patrick Harris as Kyle's blind tutor, Mary-Kate Olsen as the girl responsible for cursing Kyle and causing his subsequent transformation.
- George C. Scott appeared as the Beast in a made-for-TV rendition in 1976, with his second wife, Patricia "Trish" Van Devere, co-starring alongside him as Belle in the film, which aired as part of the "Hallmark Hall of Fame." Scott was nominated for an Emmy for his performance.
- In 1984, Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre aired Beauty and the Beast starring Klaus Kinski and Susan Sarandon. The script, sets, makeup and costumes were based on the 1946 film.
- Beauty and the Beast, a television series which owed as much to detective shows and fantasy fiction as to the fairy tale, was originally broadcast from 1987 to 1989. This was centered around the relationship between Catherine (played by Linda Hamilton), an attorney who lived in New York City and Vincent (played by Ron Perlman), a gentle but lion-faced "beast" who dwells in the tunnels beneath the city. Wendy Pini created two issues of a comic-book adaptation of the TV series. The series was cancelled when ratings fell after Hamilton decided to leave the show at the end of the second season.
- Beauty & the Beast (2012) is a reworking of the 1987 TV series with Jay Ryan and Kristin Kreuk reprising the roles that Perlman and Hamilton, respectively, had originated in that production.
- Both ABC and the CW have ordered pilots for television shows based on the classic fairy tale with the CW version being a remake of the 1980s television series.
- A variation of the story was incorporated into an episode of the ABC TV series Once Upon a Time entitled "Skin Deep" in which Beauty/Belle is played by Emilie de Ravin and the Beast is Rumpelstiltskin, as played by Robert Carlyle.
- The Disney film was adapted for the stage as Beauty and the Beast by Linda Woolverton and Alan Menken, who had worked on the film. Howard Ashman, the original lyricist, had died, and additional lyrics were written by Tim Rice.
- A hidden object game Mystery Legends: Beauty and the Beast was released in 2012.
- Fashion Beast, a 1980s screenplay by Alan Moore that was adapted into a graphic novel in 2012
- The Quantum Rose by Catherine Asaro is a science fiction retelling of Beauty and the Beast. It won the 2002 Nebula Award for Best Novel and the 2001 Affaire de Coeur Award for Best Science Fiction Novel. The first third of the novel appeared as a three-part serialization in Analog magazine in the 1999 May, June and July/August issues. Tor Books published the full novel in 2000.
- In The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski the story "A Grain of Truth" is very similar to Beauty and the Beast, though the beast enjoys being a beast and the daughters of various merchants willingly live with him in exchange for money.
- Tanith Lee's short story, "Beauty," is a science fiction retelling of Beauty and the Beast, which appeared in her anthology, Red as Blood, or Tales from the Sisters Grimmer, published in 1983. The heroine is named Estár; the Beast, a catlike telepathic alien, is never given a name that can be written or spoken in any human language.
- In Rooster Teeth Productions RWBY, resident rebellious ninja-girl and wielder of the transforming chain-scythe-pistol, Gambol Shroud, Blake Belladonna of Team RWBY is an allusion to both Beauty and Beast due to her Faunus origins. In the Black Trailer, she is coupled with a gruff partner, Adam Taurus, who seems tainted by his combat experience. Adam's name is shared by the Disney adaptation of Beauty and the Beast wherein Beast's real name was Prince Adam. Adam's symbol is also a rose alluding to the Beast's Divine Rose.
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- Betsy Hearne, Beauty and the Beast: Visions and Revisions of An Old Tale, p 25 ISBN 0-226-32239-4
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- Maria Tatar, p 45, The Annotated Classic Fairy Tales, ISBN 0-393-05163-3
- David J. Hogan (1986). Dark Romance: Sexuality In the Horror Film. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company. p. 90. ISBN 0-7864-0474-4.
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- Tale as Old as Time: The Making of Beauty and the Beast. [VCD]. Walt Disney Home Entertainment. 2002.
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