BWW Blog: HOW MUCH DO I LOVE BEAUTY AND THE BEAST? Let Me Count The Ways!
This week, in celebration of the release of Disney's brand-new live-action movie Beauty and the Beast, I'm going to be posting reviews of beloved novels retelling this story both here at Broadway World as well as on my personal book review blog A Backwards Story. Jana from That Artsy Reader Girl is also posting throughout the week. We'll both be posting every day on our personal blogs, and I'll have a few posts here at BWW as well so that we can all join in on fun!
Today, I thought I'd talk a little bit about why Beauty and the Beast is one of my all-time favorite fairy tales. It could be because Belle was one of my first Disney Princesses, her movie one of my first Disney movies. It could be that I was obsessed with BEAUTY by Robin McKinley growing up? Who knows?
Very possibly, it was because of Belle herself. She had brown hair like me. She was a reader like me. She owned a HORSE. (And I blame My Little Pony, but I was OBSESSED with horses as a child.) Before I knew what "theatre" or "acting" was, I had a tape I'd recorded of the Disney movie. I took my Lisa Frank tri-colored pen set and used one color for Belle's "speaking" lines," one for her "singing" lines, and one for the line of the person before her line. I had a chest of stuff in my room such as a Wizard of Oz Dorothy costume (my Peasant Belle dress), a stuffed My Little Pony tied to a long stick (My version of Phillipe...), a fake rose, a mirror, etc. I'd hide in the corner of my room near the cubbies (not knowing what stage wings or curtains were yet) and wait for when I was supposed to be "in the movie" (aka onstage). I had a few movies I would play and act out like this, but Belle was always my favorite.
The first time I ever paid to see a non-school production of a musical, I was in college and there was a touring production of Disney's Beauty and the Beast. It would be another year and a half before I fell in love with musical theatre. At the time, it was enough to see this show.
I went to school in Tampa near Orlando, and my favorite of all the Disney Parks to go to was MGM/Hollywood Studios, in part because they had a 30 minute production of Beauty and the Beast.
And, of course, what reader didn't covet Beast's library!?
I also love similar retellings such as the Scottish Ballad of Tam Lin, the Greek myth of Persephone and Hades, and the slightly obscure Norwegian fairy tale East o' the Sun, West o' the Moon. Not necessarily because they're always grouped together with Beauty and the Beast, but because they've always been tales that appeal to me and are considered favorites. IDK, I guess I have a thing for the romantic trope in fairy tales and myths??
I know the tale gets a lot of flack for having Stockholm Syndrome, and how could people still like it? I think Emma Watson addressed this well in an interview she did recently with Entertainment Weekly Magazine, where she stated,
"She has none of the characteristics of someone with Stockholm syndrome because she keeps her independence; she keeps that freedom of thought," Watson adds. "I also think there is a very intentional switch where, in my mind, Belle decides to stay. She's giving him hell. There is no sense of 'I need to kill this guy with kindness.' Or any sense that she deserves this. 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.'"
I think this is what so many of us who love the tale think and can't express as articulately when we hear people ask us this question!
This Tuesday, I'll be rounding up a list of my favorite Beauty and the Beast retellings, but I can whisper my top three to you right now! BEAUTY by Robin Mckinley of course, which was knocked off its perch when, as an adult, I read HEART'S BLOOD by Juliet Marillier...which had to fight to stay #1 in my heart when A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES by Sarah J. Maas came along....
But there are so many really unique retellings I love, too, and I can't wait to share them with you on Tuesday! Lately, I've really loved the stories that have twisted the tale into something new, where it's less traditional...and I also love the versions with less magic that are more grounded in reality and feel like they could "actually" happen! Ahh, I just love this story........
So tell me....
why did YOU fall in love with this beloved tale as old as time!?