On a whim, I went out and rented what is easily one of my favourite movies of all time, Disney's Beauty and the Beast, the second of the three musicals that Alan Menken and Howard Ashman did for Disney (the other two, natch, being The Little Mermaid and about half of Aladdin). Of course, I can't just go out and buy this DVD like I did with the other two because some jackhole over at the Mouse House thought it would be a laugh to lock up the only animated movie to be nominated for the Best Picture Oscar inside the Disney Vault for who knows how long. Seriously, the copies of the 2002 DVD Special Edition are currently selling for about $100 each on Amazon. Not fair.
Rewatching the movie was a delight, but it did open my eyes to a bunch of bizarre facts. For instance - the DVD included a new musical number, Human Again, which was fantastic, but I'm kinda glad they ended up cutting it because it seriously screwed with the time continuity of the movie (is it autumn? winter? spring already? The snow's gone - no, it came back!) . Also, I finally put together the math that had the Beast freed on his twenty-first birthday (hey he's my age now!), with the lyrics that Lumiere sings about the "ten years we've been rusting". What, you can't mean the Prince was turned into a Beast...
...when he was eleven?! ELEVEN? You mean, when he was a child? The magical Enchantress on the stained-glass windows was shocked and appalled that an eleven-year-old was rude to her? The narrator rumbles on about how this child, presumably an orphan prince being raised by servants, was "spoiled, selfish, and unkind". Really? Give me the name of an eleven-year-old who isn't! The prologue continues...yada yada yada...and the enchantress can see that there is no love in the Prince's heart...so she turns him into a Beast until he's of legal majority? Why not spank him and send him to bed without dinner? I can kind of imagine how this would play out:
Enchantress: *knock knock*
Prince: *opens door* Yes.
Enchantress: Sweet Prince, mayn't I stay the night? I'm so cold...
Prince: Um, Mrs. Potts says I'm not allowed to talk to strangers.
Enchantress: But I got a flower - look, pretty flower...so pretty...
Prince: Gee, thanks, lady, but I'm a BOY. So why don't you just chillax, I'm in the middle of kicking Cogsworth's ass in Halo 2.
Enchantress: Don't be fooled by appearances! Beauty comes from within!
Prince: Well YOU'RE old, your FLOWER's gay, and I wanna play me some Halo 2, beeyotch!
Enchantress: *magification* Surprise!
Prince: Oh, poop.
Enchantress: You obviously have no love in your heart...
Prince: What? But I love my X-Box! Ask anybody!
Enchantress: So I'm going to rob you of a normal human puberty and turn you into a Beast - if you can give your heart to something other than an inanimate object by the time you're twenty-one, you can be human again - and drink alcohol in most countries. Oh yeah, and you also have to KEEP my so-called GAY FLOWER, because it'll tell you how much time you have left. Also, here - have this Peeping Tom Device--er, I mean Magic Mirror. C'mon, the kid's gotta learn about these things sometime! EXCELLENT - I forsee no psychological damage arising from this AT ALL. Ta ta! *leaves*
Prince's servants: *knicknackification*
Beast: Grrr...what's puberty?
Knick-Knack Servants: SHIT.
However, him being beastified in childhood does explain his behaviour - like that fact that he no longer knows how to use a spoon (or, perhaps, he just doesn't choose to - because there's a good chance that spoon used to be a person!) or read, for that matter. He overcomes his pettiness pretty quickly, though. If he was beastified later, he might have been a little less savage, even with his appearance. But to me, given his age, it seems that he started acting like a beast because he looked like a Beast, and not the other way around. But - if he hadn't been beastified, he wouldn't have found Belle, so I suppose the Enchantress did good in the end.
I enjoyed how the movie made Belle good, but not perfect. She's an intelligent, educated person living in a backwater town of French hillbillies...and she is completely aware of it - just listen to the way she sings about the "little town...full of little people". Well, bonjour to you, too, Belle! It makes sense that she falls for a haughty beast-prince who can cut her down to size, a little. Especially in the scene where she blatantly disregards orders in favour of her curiosity, checks out the West Wing, is entranced by the magic flower (not just because it's shiny and pink - well, maybe), and gets chewed out by the Beast. "NO MEANS NO, BELLE!"
But the ending always kills me - I love it when Beast turns back into a handsome (and not at all emotionally stunted) Prince, and the castle goes from a dark building covered with demon imagery into a shiny white palace with cherub and angel artwork. Strangely enough, it almost seems like the castle's appearance changes with the Beast's moods. When he's happy and all lovey-dovey over Belle, the castle is clean, bright, and the sun is shining. When Belle leaves, it's back to being black and gothic and stormy. Does the Beast inadvertantly have weather powers? Two X-Men in one!
However, I can also imagine an entirely different scene once the Beast is turned back into a Prince:
Prince: Hey, baby.
Belle and Prince: *magicalsmoochification*
Knick Knack Servants: *ordinaryservantification*
Prince: Hooray! Let's celebrate! Break out the silverwear!
Mrs Potts: Yeah about that...we don't have any.
Mrs Potts: Because they're all human now.
Prince: Don't we have anything? Candles? Teacups? Hat racks? Towels? TOILET BRUSHES?!
Mrs Potts: I'm afraid not. We're Human Again! *songanddance*
Prince, Belle, other Servants: *crickets*
Prince: I say, to BED, BATH & BEYOND! Posthaste! Bring the carriage around!
Mrs Potts: No carriage.
Prince: Well then, bring the piggy-back servants around!
Piggy-Back Servants: SHIT.
I love this movie.