I’m not usually a fan of remakes, especially of movies that are already really good and/or classics. I hated it when they remade Oldboy (The Korean one is awesome, the American remake is a tragedy), and I hated it even more when they remade Psycho in 1998. Seriously, if you want to watch those movies, rent or buy the Blu-rays and watch the originals. These remakes serve no purpose except to mint money for greedy studios. So you can only imagine how I felt when they announced that they were making a shot-for-shot remake of the 1991 classic animated movie which won two Oscars, Beauty and the Beast.
Having said that, when the first teaser dropped, I lost my mind! My childhood memories started flooding in and I was hooked. I watched the teaser at least 72 times in a row before my roommate restrained me and threw my laptop away. Studios 1, Dashran 0. Since the first teaser dropped, I waited and waited, following the marketing campaign like a desperate little kid. I needed more Beauty and the Beast.
Finally, the week had come! I was about to book my tickets when the major “gay” controversy happened. And guess what, now Beauty and the Beast will not be screened in Malaysian cinemas. A tragedy to say the least. So what do I do (besides posting 15 different hate rants on social media)? I watched the original classic again. Here are 15 facts you didn’t know about Beauty and the Beast.
15. Beast’s name was never mentioned
Without doing a quick Google, I doubt most people (myself included), unless you’re an ardent Beauty and the Beast fan would be able to tell me what’s Beast’s pre-transformation name. So after doing some detective work, I have come to the realization that his name is Prince Adam. The name Prince Adam was never once mentioned throughout the 1991 classic as people always refer to him as Beast or master.
However, in the direct to video sequel to Beauty and the Beast, titled Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas (yep, there is such a thing #Mindblown), it is mentioned that Beast’s name is Prince Adam. This movie is set within the period of the 1991 classic, shortly after the iconic “fight with the wolves” sequence. In Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas, we learn that Beast disallows the celebration of Christmas because that was the time in which his transformation took place. However, Belle, Lumiere, Chip, Mrs. Potts and Cogsworth convince him that Christmas is an awesome holiday that is worth celebrating anyway. But perhaps the most interesting thing of this movie is the fact that it shows in detail that time when the evil Enchantress put a spell on the castle transforming Prince Adam into the hideous Beast and everyone else into singing furniture.
14. Mickey Mouse cameo
Okay, fine. The title is kinda misleading. The actual Mickey Mouse didn’t actually cameo in Beauty and the Beast. However, if you grew up watching Disney Channel, I’m sure you’ve probably heard of “Hidden Mickeys.” Hidden Mickeys are basically things in movies (usually Disney movies) that is shaped like the Mickey Mouse symbol. And in Beauty and the Beast there are more than several instances where a Hidden Mickey pops up. In one instance, you can notice a Hidden Mickey at the top center of the bookshelf when the Beast gives Belle the huge library. Cool, eh?
In another instance, there are 3 water droplets that form an upside-down version of Mickey Mouse’s head after Gaston and his peeps chop down a tree. But that’s not all. There is a scene in which a trio of stones by the roots to the left of the cottage, once again form an upside-down version of the symbol. Finally, during the iconic “human again” scene, a heap of ashes is dumped on Cogsworth’s head from above when he is outside inspecting the shovels. If you look really closely, you’ll be able to notice three circles appear in the snow on the left side of the screen that form Mickey Mouse’s head.
13. Potts was originally named Mrs. Chamomile
One of the most iconic Disney characters of all time is Mrs. Potts from Beauty and the Beast. However, there was a point in time, where there was discussion to name Mrs Potts not-Mrs Potts. Blasphemy!
In an interview with Vanity Fair, Producer Don Hahn said “the name was an attempt to create the most soothing possible association.” After much contemplation though, he and composer Howard Ashman decided that Mrs. Potts would be a much more suitable name as it was easy to rhyme and easy for kids to say it, as compared to Mrs. Chamomile.
But at the very least, Chamomile is a pretty awesome name. Another classic Disney character is Lumiere. Originally, Lumiere was named Chandal which sorta kinda rhymes with chandelier. However, after various discussion, the character’s name was changed to Lumiere for two different reasons. One, to honour the Lumiere brothers who were film and photography veterans. Two, just like Mrs Potts, it was a much easier word to say, especially for kids.
12. The 1991 classic is dedicated to Howard Ashman
Howard Ashman was an American musician who worked on various films like The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin. Unfortunately, the legendary musician passed away approximately eight months prior to the release of one of the most critically acclaimed movie of all time, Beauty and the Beast. The film is dedicated to Ashman; at the end of the final credits, you can read the dedication: “To our friend Howard, who gave a mermaid her voice and a beast his soul, we will be forever grateful.”
Howard Ashman was diagnosed with AIDS way back in 1988, midway through the production of The Little Mermaid. During the making of Beauty and the Beast, Disney animators were flown in to work with Howard Ashman in his home, when they discovered that he was very seriously ill. However, being the trooper that he is, Howard Ashman continued working on the songs, despite getting weaker and weaker. When the animators of Beauty and the Beast visited Ashman at the hospital after the premiere screening of the movie, he weighed merely 80 pounds, could barely utter a single word and had even lost his sight. Producer Don Hahn told Ashman that the film was incredibly well received by audiences.
11. Specific colours
One of the more underrated elements in film is the usage of colour. Most people don’t realise this, but colour plays a huge role in setting the tone of the film as well as capturing a particular emotion. For example, David Fincher only ever users two colour palettes in his films, blue and yellow. This can be seen throughout his filmography from Alien 3 all the way to Gone Girl. His colour palette is one of the important reasons why his films always seem very mysterious, even when he makes a biopic like The Social Network. Besides colour grading, there are many instances where a specific colour is used in the scenes, such as objects, clothes or even the colour of someone’s eyes. In M. Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense, you’ll be able to notice a red object in scenes where danger is about to happen.
The same concept is applied to Beauty and the Beast. Look closely and you’ll realise that Belle is the only person in her town who wears blue. This is not a coincidence, but a symbol that represents how different she is from everyone else around her. Later on in the film, she encounters Beast, another character who’s vastly different from the regular Joe and he too is wearing blue.
10. The movie was supposed to be much darker
Beauty and the Beast is generally considered a darker movie when compared to your average Disney Princess movie. Movies like Cinderella and Snow White are relatively straightforward, whereas Beauty and the Beast has many elements that have gotten people talking and debating years and years after its release. One of those darker themes are implications of Stockholm Syndrome.
Did you know, that there were many scenes in the movie that were storyboarded but didn’t actually make it to the final product because of how dark it got. One instance includes Gaston visiting a mental asylum. In another instance, Beast is seen dragging the carcass of an animal he just killed. These scenes were initially drafted out because the creators wanted to provide another layer of depth to these characters. However, both these scenes were considered too gruesome for children and so the ideas were dropped. Having said that, the creators did include a toned down version of some of those ideas. In one of the scenes, an animal skeleton can be seen, though just for a brief second and it’s also heavily covered with shadows. This scene is important to highlight just how much the transformation has affected him.
9. Brilliant nuances
Here’s a fun fact that stands out to me in particular and an instance that highlights just how well written Beauty and the Beast truly is. But first, we have to understand the complete nature of Beast’s curse. The curse on Prince Adam AKA Beast will only be lifted if he manages to find pure love, without taking exterior beauty into consideration. This means that someone has to fall in love with Beast without knowing nor caring about how he really looks like. And, guess what? The red rose is one of the living gatekeepers of this curse. Early on in the film, when Belle accidentally comes across the torn up portrait of Prince Adam, she tries to put it back. Only, before she’s able to get a proper look at the face, she is distracted by the sudden bright light of the rose. On the surface it may seem like a throwaway scene. But in reality, this is the flower actually preventing Belle from discovering how The Beast really looks like.
This is perhaps the biggest lesson the film is trying to teach. Beauty and the Beast is trying to teach kids (and adults for that matter) to look beyond someone’s exterior and don’t judge a book by its cover.
8. Oscar records
We often cry for the Academy to recognise and nominate more “mainstream” movies as best picture, to no avail. Movies like Captain America: Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War and Deadpool did not get a best picture nod to fans’ dismay. Heck, even a cinematic masterpiece like The Dark Knight did not get a nomination. The same can be said for animation movies, which rarely get best picture nominations these days.
However, way back in 1991, Beauty and the Beast became the first ever animation film to get a best picture nomination. Although Beauty and the Beast didn’t actually end up winning – it rightfully lost to The Silence of the Lambs – getting nominated is a victory in and of itself. In addition to that Beauty and the Beast is also the first full length animated feature to win the Golden Globe Award for Best Picture in its “Musical or Comedy” category. Plus, it’s also the first movie under the Walt Disney Brand to get a Best Picture Oscar nomination since Marry Poppins in 1964.
Beauty and the Beast became the first movie musical to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Motion Picture of the Year since All That Jazz (1979) and the last one until Moulin Rouge! (2001), ten years later. Since then Les Miserables and La La Land have also been nominated.
7. There were talks to have the Beast transformation scene
I love Beauty and the Beast. Why else would I waste my life away writing an article about this movie when I could be getting laid reading comic books. But one thing that has bugged me for a very long time is why directors Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale didn’t include a prologue scene in which Prince Adam transforms into Beast. Turns out, composer Howard Ashman wanted the same thing. Howard Ashman pitched the scene to the directors in which the young Prince Adam is seen transforming into the Beast at the start of the movie. However, this lead to an argument during one of the meetings as the directors couldn’t shake visions of Butch Patrick in 1964’s The Munsters. For whatever reason, the directors said the idea was a cheap shot and considered it too ridiculous to be taken seriously.
Alas, after various discussions, it was decided that the film will open with the stained glass window as a mirror to the opening storybook of previous Disney classics. However, many years later, fans of the film did manage to witness the transformation of Prince Adam in a direct-to-video sequel no one really cares about, titled Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas (1997).
6. Homage to Gigi
In addition to being pretty much flawlessly written, Beauty and the Beast is in many ways an homage to the classic 1958 film, Gigi, which went on to win NINE Academy Awards. An incredible feat to say the least.
Lumiere is a tribute to Maurice Chevalier, perfectly voiced by Jerry Orbach. One of the main characters in Beauty and the Beast is Gaston who has a very similar level of confidence and emits the same aura as Gaston from Gigi. When Gigi rebuffs him in the 1958 film, it is similar to when Belle rebuffs Gaston and both sing a self-righteous song of indignation.
In addition to that, Beauty and the Beast is in actual fact a take on classic French novel La Belle et la Bete (which would explain why this movie is pretty damn dark for a Disney movie). Gigi also happens to be a French-themed film. I myself have watched Gigi a couple of times and can say that watching Gigi will definitely give you a different perspective of Beauty and the Beast.
However, the character of Gaston was not in the original fairy tale book of Beauty and the Beast and was instead inspired by one of the villains of the 1946 French film also titled, Beauty and the Beast.
5. Most viewed teaser trailer in history
Since we’ve mostly covered stuff on the original classic 1991 Beauty and the Beast. Let’s move our attention to the newer movie which will be out in cinemas worldwide, today! Ever wondered why some great movies don’t really make much money, while some movies that end up being critically panned, end up making a truckload of profit? The obvious reason is of course, content or genre. A more action heavy Transformers is sure to appeal to a wider audience than say a sombre, heavy in dialogue drama like Moonlight. However, there is another reason why some movies make more money than others. MARKETING.
Marketing plays a huge role in getting people enticed for a movie. Star Wars: The Force Awakens had one of the best marketing campaigns in history and it ended up being the highest grossing movie of all time in the US and the third highest grossing movie of all time globally. When we talk about great marketing campaigns, another movie comes to mind. Deadpool! Deadpool also had an incredible marketing campaign which led it to be the highest grossing R-rated movie of all time.
According to Disney’s official reports, the first teaser trailer of Beauty and the Beast was viewed a staggering 91.8 million times in its first 24 hours. This makes the teaser for Beauty and the Beast the most viewed teaser trailer in the history of the universe, beating previous records set by Star Wars: The Force Awakens (88 million views), followed by Captain America: Civil War (61 million views), each of them Disney films as well.
4. Ryan Gosling was supposed to play Beast
During the casting stages of Beauty and the Beast, Ryan Gosling (an extremely underrated, phenomenal actor) was offered the role of the Beast. However, he turned it down to appear in La La Land, a movie that went on to win the Best Picture Oscar for 2 minutes at the 89th Academy Awards. Plus, Ryan Gosling got a Best Actor nomination for that role.
Ryan Gosling’s co-star in La La Land was none other than Emma Stone, who prior to La La Land has starred opposite Ryan Gosling on two separate occasions – Gangster Squad and Crazy Stupid Love.
So, it’s kinda crazy to learn that ANOTHER Emma was initially slated to play the role of Mia. That’s right, it’s Emma Watson. When La La Land was still in its early development stages, Emma Watson was lined up to play the role of Mia, but, another musical captured her attention – Beauty and the Beast. Emma Watson decided to leave La La Land and take on the role of Belle, instead.
I guess both Emmas can be considered winners here as Emma Stone won the Best Actress award at the 89th Academy Awards while Emma Watson gets to have sex with a buffalo star in what could potentially be one of the highest grossing movies of the year.
3. Emma Watson debunks Stockholm Syndrome
One of the biggest controversies Beauty and the Beast has been facing for years and years is regarding Stockholm Syndrome. According to Wikipedia AKA the most reliable source on the internet, this is what Stockholm Syndrome means:
“Stockholm syndrome is a condition that causes hostages to develop a psychological alliance with their captors as a survival strategy during captivity. These feelings, resulting from a bond formed between captor and captives during intimate time spent together, are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims.”
Critics have always said that this movie is presented in a negative manner as it glorifies Stockholm Syndrome. However, in a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, Emma Watson debunks this concern.
“It’s such a good question and it’s something I really grappled with at the beginning; the kind of Stockholm Syndrome question about this story. That’s where a prisoner will take on the characteristics of and fall in love with the captor. Belle actively argues and disagrees with [Beast] constantly. She has none of the characteristics of someone with Stockholm Syndrome because she keeps her independence, she keeps that freedom of thought. In fact, she gives as good as she gets. He bangs on the door, she bangs back. There’s this defiance that ‘You think I’m going to come and eat dinner with you and I’m your prisoner? Absolutely not.'”
2. LeFou’s sexual orientation is an international controversy
Of all the movies that were releasing this year, INCLUDING FIFTY SHADES DARKER, who would’ve guessed that Beauty and the Beast would be the one to cause the biggest controversy. If betting sites had a category on “which movie would cause the biggest controversy in 2017,” the odds would’ve been 1:1 000 000 and some random idiot would’ve become very very rich.
Seriously, ever since Disney announced that LeFou would be a gay character, the conservative world exploded. Some smaller theatres in the US have banned the movie altogether, while Russia has slapped a 16+ rating on it. But perhaps the craziest Beauty and the Beast story is happening in my home country of Malaysia.
Here’s the breakdown of what’s happened so far:
1. Malaysia chooses to screen Beauty and the Beast.
2. Suddenly, they remove the movie from screenings to “internally review” it.
3. They choose to censor scenes that are deemed “gay” and slap a PG 13 rating on it.
4. Then Disney says they would much rather not screen the movie than allow the censorship board to censor those scenes.
5. Now, they’re not screening the movie.
1. LeFou has always been gay
This is what director Bill Condon had to say in an interview with Attitude.
“LeFou is somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston. He’s confused about what he wants, It’s somebody who’s just realizing that he has these feelings. [Actor] Josh [Gad] makes something really subtle and delicious out of it. And that’s what has its payoff at the end, which I don’t want to give away. But it is a nice, exclusively gay moment in a Disney movie.”
Here’s the funniest thing a lot of people don’t realize. LeFou has always been gay, even in the 1991 animated classic. Even in 1991, LeFou was always swooning for the muscly Gaston. And Bradley Pierce, actor who voiced Chip in this year’s version of Beauty and the Beast confirms this with TMZ:
“I think LeFou, the character who is officially gay now, always was.”
It’s funny that a lot of people think that watching a movie with one gay character can actually transform someone into a gay person. When people watched the 1991 version of Beauty and the Beast, did they walk out of the cinema with a heightened desire to bone people of their own sex? I highly doubt it.