"Once upon a time in a faraway land, a young prince lived in a shining castle. Although he had everything his heart desired, the prince was spoiled, selfish, and unkind. But then, one winter's night, an old beggar woman came to the castle and offered him a single rose in return for shelter from the bitter cold. Repulsed by her haggard appearance, the prince sneered at the gift and turned the old woman away. But she warned him not to be deceived by appearances for beauty is found within. And when he dismissed her again, the old woman's ugliness melted away to reveal a beautiful enchantress. The prince tried to apologize but it was too late, for she had seen that there was no love in his heart."
Beauty and the Beast belongs to a new series of Live Action films adapted from our favorite Disney movies of our childhood. This project will also include The Little Mermaid, Dumbo, and Mulan. With Emma Watson as Belle, we're transported into the little village of Villeneuve, where a humble young, beautiful, and intelligent woman is seen as an outsider by the rest of the villagers. Searching for her father, Belle embarks on an adventure that changes her life forever and where she finds the love she had only learned from books.
Beauty and the Beast is a traditional French fairy tale, published for the first time in 1740 by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve, intended for a young and adult audience. This version would be adapted and shortened by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont, and published in 1756. This was a more subtle version aimed at children and teenagers and is the one that has been adapted into films and theater. Which are the difference between both stories and which is better?
Here are the differences and similarities between both stories to get to know a bit more about the new film adaptation.
1. Beaumont eliminates most of Belle's family
In the original story, Belle's father is a merchant who has ruined his economic status because he has gotten involved in some bad businesses. He has four daughters and four sons, but his favorite one is the youngest of them all, Belle, a sixteen-year-old girl. In all versions, Belle's mother dies when she's just a baby.
2. A rose for a life
When the father has to leave the village for a business trip, his three other daughters ask for expensive presents, while Belle only asks for a single rose. In Beaumont's version, the father is punished by the Beast for stealing a rose from his garden. His punishment is to remain his a prisoner forever, but in the original story, he's sentenced to death.
The roses in the Beast’s garden are his most precious belongings, for they symbolize the fact that his freedom and humanity are bound to a single magical rose associated to love.
This hateful and despicable character only appears in the film versions because the creators thought that the story needed an antagonist. Gaston represents a real human beast: a brainless, stubborn, and vain man who thinks appearances are the most important thing in life.
4. The Beast
In the original version, the Beast is an abominable creature with an elephant trunk and covered in reptilian scales. He provides Belle entertainment, fun, and security in exchange for love. In the first version, the Beast shows no manners and respect for Belle; he even asks her to sleep with him.
Both stories invite its readers to reflect upon the true values of life. What matters most, beauty, riches, or kindness? The Beast, despite his scary appearance, has a kind soul, which makes Belle, the most beautiful girl in town, fall in love with him.
5. Belle's dreams
A big library is a true haven for a bookworm like Belle and the Beast enjoys listening to her read, and from this, and other shared experiences, the love we cherished as kids, is born.
In the original story, Belle falls in love with a stranger who appears in her dreams, he's an attractive man who promises eternal love and fills her with passion. Belle decides to keep this for herself because she's afraid of the Beast's fury, so when she agrees to sleep with him, the next day when she awakens she finds the man of her dreams sleeping next to her.
6. Belle's personality
In both stories, there's a constant theme: a brave, beautiful, and smart woman who doesn't fit into the social standards of her community. In Disney's version, the villagers reject her and call her a woman with a dreamy far off look who only wishes to live in an fantasy world, far away from the monotony that surrounds her. The only person who appears to understand her yearnings for a better life is her father, Maurice.
She soon meets the Beast and realizes that sometimes we must leave the comforts of our home to venture into new horizons. Belle teaches us that no matter the dangers that may lie ahead, one must always go on to experience new things in life and to learn from them.
When the movie and cast were announced, many wondered if Emma Watson was the right choice to represent this character. The truth is, Watson is a woman with strong ideals, has a degree in English literature, and is the spokesperson of important social movements in favor of gender equality. After seeing her in this role, we can confirm that she's the perfect person to embody a girl who wants to become a better person. We still live in a time where there's no equality and where uniqueness is stamped out.
7. Magical creatures
The beloved characters we remember from our childhood are back in this new version: Lumiére, Din Don, Mrs. Potts, and Chip are adapted into hyper-realistic crockery that make us love them even more. In all the variants of the Beauty and the Beast there are magical creatures that accompany the protagonists and make their lives in the castle more bearable.
In 2014, La Belle et La Bête appeared in cinemas. Starring Léa Seydoux as Belle, the plot sticks more to the original version. The Live Action movie, on the other hand, is an entertaining musical that will bring you laughter and some tears. Fortunately, we have both versions to enjoy and to decide which one is our favorite.
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Translated by María Isabel Carrasco Cara Chards