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Beauty and the Beast

From Academic Kids

Beauty and the Beast is a traditional folktale (type 425C -- search for a lost husband -- in the Aarne-Thompson classification). The first published version of the fairy tale was a meandering rendition by Madame Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve, published in La jeune ameriquaine, et les contes marins in 1740. The best-known written version was an abridgement of M. Villeneuve's work published in 1756 by Mme Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont, in Magasin des enfans, ou dialogues entre une sage gouvernante et plusieure de ses čleves; an English translation appeared in 1757.

Similar tales include the Hellenistic romance Cupid and Psyche (1st century BCE), and Madame d'Aulnoy's Le Mouton (The Ram).

Contents

Plot summary

Beauty's father, caught in a storm, finds shelter in the Beast's palace. As he leaves, he plucks a rose to bring back to Beauty, offending his unseen host, who tells him he must now die. The father begs to be allowed to see his daughters again: the Beast says that if one of the man's daughters will return to suffer in his place, he may live. Beauty journeys to the Beast's castle, convinced she will be killed: instead, she is made mistress of the enchanted palace, and the Beast asks her to be his wife. She says she can be his friend, and will stay with him forever, but not as his wife, asking only to return to her home for a week to say farewell to her father. Her sisters entice her to stay beyond the allotted week, and she returns belatedly to the castle, finding the Beast lying near death from distress at her failure to return. She begs him to live, so that he may be her husband, and by this act the Beast is transformed into a handsome prince. Beauty's family comes to live with them at the palace...

Adaptations

The tale has been notably adapted for stage and screen several times. In many of these adaptations, there is a common problem with the dramatic impact of the story; by the end of the story, the audience is so accustomed to and charmed by the Beast, that when he changes back into the prince, it is a disappointment to see him reduced to just another pretty face.

Movie versions

A sumptuous French version of Beauty and the Beast (La Belle et la Bęte) was made in 1946, directed by Jean Cocteau, starring his lover Jean Marais as the Beast and Josette Day as Beauty.

In 1991 Disney produced an animated film of Beauty and the Beast with screenplay by Linda Woolverton, music by Alan Menken, and lyrics by Howard Ashman. It won Academy Awards for Best Song and Best Original Score and was the first animated feature ever nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. This version gave Beauty a name (Belle), but not the Beast. Also, in this version, the servants have been transformed into cute, personified objects. The story is changed much also in this version. Belle's father is given a name, Maurice, and Belle is his only daughter. A handsome and popular but arrogant man named Gaston wants to marry Belle but she does not want to marry him, and he and his friends threaten Maurice and the beast, but eventually Gaston is defeated. It is now considered one of the Walt Disney Company's "classics".

Stage Versions

The Disney film was adapted for the stage 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. Five new songs, "No Matter What", "Home", "Me", and "If I Can't Love Her", and "Human Again" were added to those appearing in the original film score in the stage version. There is a great deal of emphasis on pyrotechnics, costuming and special effects to produce the imagery of the enchanted castle. It was produced by Disney Theatrical.

Television Versions

Beauty and the Beast, which owed as much to bodice-ripping romance novels and fantasy fiction as to the fairy tale, originally broadcast from 1987 to 1989, was centered around the relationship between Catherine, an attorney who lived in New York City, played by Linda Hamilton, and Vincent, a gentle but lion-faced "beast", played by Ron Perlman, who dwells in the tunnels beneath the city.

External links

eo:Belnjo kaj la besto fr:La Belle et la Bęte sv:Skönheten och odjuret

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