Fans who have been waiting two years since the announcement that there would be a live-action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast finally were treated to a glimpse today when Disney released a teaser trailer. Though it really is more teaser than trailer, the original animated Beauty and the Beast is beloved enough to stir up a lot of excitement and nostalgia over this.
Here are some things about the original you may not know:
Production Was A Beast
The production went through many delays, changes, and re-workings. Walt Disney had attempted to adapt the Beauty and the Beast story in the 1930s and the 1950s, but could not find a treatment that worked. After the success of The Little Mermaid in 1989, the Disney team decided to try it again, and an initial storyboard reel was drawn up. It was not a musical and Disney felt it was too dark, so it was ordered to be scrapped and started over. The director resigned soon after. The 2017 live-adaptation has had some restructuring as well, as Stephen Chbosky was brought in to re-write the script after Evan Spiliotopoulos’s first run at it. It seems that the live-action adaptation is taking as much care as the original to make sure it’s done right.
Beauty and the Beast was the first animated Disney film to begin as a screenplay, instead of the traditional method of developing through storyboarding. The screenwriter, Linda Woolverton, was also the first women to write a Disney animated film and had a vested interest in creating a princess for the next generation to look up to. The princesses prior to Belle were predominantly confined to domestic spheres, solely oriented around romance, often sleeping or silent through the majority of their story, and limited in character traits to beauty and gentleness. One of Woolverton's inspirations for Belle's characterizations was Katherine Hepburn as Jo in Little Women.
“If you depict girls and women in these roles that we’ve never seen before, then it becomes an assumption for younger generations”— Woolverton, TIME.
A Paige Out of Belle's Book
Broadway actress Paige O’Hara was chosen as the voice of Belle. The casting team felt that she was the right choice because they wanted Belle to sound more European and womanly than Jodi Benson’s (who was also considered) performance as Ariel. They also liked that O’Hara had a “little bit of Judy Garland” to the tone of her voice, as Belle’s appearance was influenced by Garland. During O’Hara’s audition, a bit of hair flew in her face and she tucked it back, which the animators liked and included in the movie.
Bonus fun fact: Belle is the first brunette Disney princess.
Song as Old as Rhyme
Alan Menken and Howard Ashman were brought in to write the music and lyrics, respectively, and many songs were conceived differently to the final product we know and love.
“Be Our Guest” was originally sung by the household objects to Maurice, not Belle, as he was technically the Beast’s first visitor. They realized that they should have the song revolve around the more pivotal character, so they switched it.
The title song was originally going to be more rock-leaning and Angela Lansbury didn’t think she was the right choice to sing it. However, Menken convinced her to try it how she saw fit, and the version she came up with in one take is what went on to win Best Original Song at the Academy Awards.
The song “Human Again,” sung by the enchanted objects was cut from the original film and “Something There” took it’s place, but it has since been included in re-releases.
Beauty and the Beast began the classic nineties Disney tradition of including a pop cover of the film’s song play at the end credits. Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson’s rendition of “Beauty and the Beast” won the Grammy for Best Pop Duo/Group Vocal Performance.
Howard Ashman, widely revered for his work in musicals, died of AIDS-related complications eight months before the release of the movie and Beauty and the Beast is his last completed work. There is a tribute to him at the end of the credits crawl:
Legendary animator Glen Keane oversaw the creation of the Beast, who was comprised of several different animal features— the mane of a lion, the beard and head structure of a buffalo, the brow of a gorilla, the tusks of a boar, the legs and tail of a wolf, and the body of a bear. His blue eyes are consistent between both his beast and human forms. Real growls of panthers and lions were added to Robby Benson’s voice to create the Beast’s menacing voice. His voice wasn’t altered on the soundtrack however, which is why he sounds so human in “Something There”. As he is singing inner thoughts in the song, the contrast in the way he sounds emphasizes that he’s still human on the inside.
Regis Philbin auditioned for the role of the Beast, which is one of the most surprising bits of casting trivia I’ve ever heard. Patrick Stewart could have played Cogsworth, but had to pass it up due to scheduling conflicts with Star Trek: The Next Generation. Julie Andrews was considered for Mrs. Potts, but reportedly turned it down.
Beauty and the Borrowing
Beauty and the Beast has many connections to other Disney films. In the film’s last scene, Belle’s dance with her prince is actually reused animation from Sleeping Beauty. The animators were running out of time, so they altered Aurora and Phillip into Belle and Adam. Gaston was originally going to be eaten by wolves after surviving the fall from the castle, but they decided not to give him such a gruesome end. This idea was transferred to The Lion King a few years later, as Scar is closed in upon by hyenas after his fall. Sherri Stoner was the animation reference model for both Belle and Ariel, explaining why they share some mannerisms.
CAPS Off To Them
It was the second film, after The Rescuers Down Under, to use CAPS (Computer Animation Production System) a compositing system developed by Pixar for Disney. CAPS allowed for a wider range of color, created the illusion of depth and layers, and helped combine hand-drawn art with CGI. This blending of illustration and CGI is used in the ballroom scene, as Belle and the Beast dance through a computer-generated backdrop, while the camera moves around them, stimulating a 3-D effect. The success of the sequence encouraged further investment in computer animation for future films.
'Frozen' In Time?
The film makes it clear that the Beast only has until the end of the 21st year to find love, but Lumiere mentions that they’ve been cursed for 10 years, meaning the Beast would only have been 11. This isn’t impossible, it just seems extremely harsh for the enchantress to punish what is fairly normal, bratty pre-teen behavior in such an intense fashion. One theory puts forward that the “21st year” is actually the 21st year of the curse and the castle has been frozen in time for two decades. This would also explain how Chip exists, as he is a young child when the curse breaks and presumably wasn’t born as a cup.
Everybody Is Justifiably In Love With This Movie
It was the first animated film to be nominated for Best Picture and remained so, until the rules expanded the Best Picture race in 2010 and Up was nominated. It lost to Silence of the Lambs, which is a pretty drastic contrast in tone for two movies about monsters. Beauty and the Beast is still the only animated feature to have been nominated in one of the five slots for Best Picture. It won plenty other accolades, including the Golden Globe for Best Picture: Musical or Comedy. IGN named it the greatest animated film of all time, and it is currently ranked as the sixth highest rated Disney film on Rotten Tomatoes, with a 93%. (Pinocchio is number one…do we agree with that?) It was also the first animated movie to earn more than $100 million at the box office.
One last piece of bonus trivia? Cogsworth's line "Flowers, chocolates, promises you don't intend to keep... " was ad-libbed by David Ogden Stiers and I appreciate the brilliance of that a lot more as an adult.
Let's hope the live adaptation lives up the masterpiece original!
Beauty and the Beast will hit theaters March 17, 2017.