Term Paper: Beauty &amp the Disney Beast

Pages: 10 (3461 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 3  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Mythology  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] Poor Beauty. Poor Beast. Poor us."

First, the profitability tale. One cannot and should not disregard this fact because it underlies the moral message of all Beauty and the Beasts. Originally, La Belle's father sold her soul to the Beast. No one would suspect that the attraction that would form between her and her presumed ugly nemesis would become so strong that she would willingly give away her golden virginity to the beast, often times it was said without even knowing that The Beast had a human side (Windling, 1995). Money and wealth were always in the background and one cannot blame Disney or anyone else for recognizing this.

The digital producers of this cartoonish film invested their own untold production secrets into the remaking of the Beauty and a Beast (Tracy, 2001) concept. Being the fifth such transformative adventure for Disney, they wanted to unleash their creative talents to an extent unheard of at the time -- their own form of avant-gardism, one might say. The story was to be about the beasts within each main character, giving the audience a look into the soul of beauty and ugliness. It took them a good deal of work to do this, which they accomplished with the new company on the rise, Pixar, or Steve Job's newest discovery. Accordingly, they unleashed some 600 animators and 226,000 graphic cells to put together a story of & #8230; well, substance. It must have been. For it earned not just over $100 million, it was actually the first animation project to garner Best Picture Oscar nomination.

Critics loved it as a production feat, combining graphical beauty with song and life-like presentation. La Belle and The Beast had to be presented in their full, worldly appeal. She was modeled after European likenesses and a sense of grace associated with her desire to read. And he, the Beast in his full glory, had to harness the most horrendous of commercial satisfactions! Eventually, the monetary returns would grow to over $400 million. And several sequels and variations on the theme have been developed as well. Apparently, because of Disney's success with The Lion King's re-release, Beauty and The Beast is expected to make a return splash in 2012.

There are a number of key development and script issues worth recognizing. It would be in this show that Gaston would arise, the character that would become the foolish representation of The Beast who previously had style and appeal. Plus, as an animated feature, it was able to give life to the various objects of the household, thus adding, presumably, a bit of playfulness to the story (and thus taking it further away from its early justice motivations). Some have suggested that these characters came from the way that Cocteau integrated the fantasy elements. But this seems a bit of a disservice to the earlier master. Unlike Cocteau, who sought professional innovation, the designer of this box office wonder found other inspirations. Here is an example of a quote from the promotional site by Tracy (2001) that is meant to be complimentary of how they pulled together a foundation for their beastly character:

I began creating the Beast by figuring out who the character really is inside. He's a guy trapped between two worlds. He's part animal and part human and he's not comfortable with either. His design had to show the human side - heart, warmth and the ability to love. The ferocious, hideous animal side had to reflect his incredible power and agility. I filled my mind with all these things and began processing it into a final design. Numerous trips to the zoo, studying National Geographic videos and analysis of stuffed animals helped in the process.

These intellectual weaknesses aside, some comparisons seem creatively obvious and play into why less artistic respect is given to Disney from those who know of the origins of the tale. Cocteau turned the idea of this timeless story into a masterpiece of fantasy of ordinary appeal. Disney made it a commercial sensation. Cocteau mesmerized by melting black and white photography and cinemagraphic magic with audience engagement into the ordinary lives of the players. Disney transformed a zoo of characterizations into an entertainment piece that gave up on what the story for something better to sell.

The unwinding of this tale as it moves into contemporary media is not so easy, however. The literary transformations of the story of struggles to obtain the prize of admiration have enticed other literary and TV scripters to undertake their own modifications to the point where the themes have been woven through countless plots. Most often these artisans have tried to put the best of their characters into the lights of honesty between fundamentally different types of people. But as the episodes have unfolded, that has now changed and Disney carries the blame. Their characters are shallow. Beauty and her father are not the same people of the past; and often the Beast really comes across more as a stuffed buffoon than as a series representation of what it means to be a person inside a mask of human foibles.

The CGI that Disney (and Pixar) offered, however, was not just makeup using a different kind of graphically altered mask. It cut deeper to the point that fundamental features, facial and otherwise, of have been almost literally been surgically changed. The curtains have been pulled back in much the same way that television has in its own way unveiled much more about the ugly realities of moral stories simplified beyond recognition. Which is not to say that TV scripts of Beauty and The Beast are lacking professional approval.

Several televised efforts were made prior to Disney's work to adapt the story to television. Shirley Temple got into the act with a 1958 presentation in her Storybook variation on Andrew Lang's work featuring Charleton Heston and Claire Bloom (Davis, 2009). George C. Scott offered a "made for TV" rendition in 1976, which earned him acclaim. Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre would give credible actors and actresses the chance to be human representations of the characters of many similar stories, often to good reviews. The most unusual of these commercial endeavors were programs designed to make the ugly beast a working model of redemption. Hollywood on TV liked the concept of Linda Hamilton and Ron Perlman playing attorney and detective in the guise of a lion-faced monster through the later 1980s. Perhaps it would be the failure of this approach that would lead Disney when it picked up on this small-screen adaptation to reach for the graphic stars of creative opportunity -- the audiences really didn't like the idea of either The Beauty or The Beast being advocates for justice.

The scars that cut deeply into the Belle of the past can sometimes only be seen any more through the stories that gossip journalists tell in the tabloids. It is not an exaggeration to say that the day has come that viewers of quality entertainment are watching their favorite characters melt away with age to the point where we see that below even the most beautiful of characters is a "hideous" monster of maturity. Disney and other producers of this nature have contributed to the growing pattern of (particularly) young women wanting to live up to socially unrealistic standards of weight and facial appeal: because they think these are standards of self-identity. Growing numbers of them turn -- egged on by professionals in other sectors of the movie, magazine and entertainment fields -- are thus airbrushing away some of their own flaws in hopes of a strange reflection of reality. In so doing, they are taking the same path that Disney took. Even the best of plastic surgery and plastic presumptions only last for a short while, then time makes everyone face the mirror to watch the hidden truths reappear, sometimes before very harsh audiences.

A final comment should be made about Beauty and The Beast and the issue of feminism and gender justice. Some critics of what Disney has done have been uncertain about this, in part because they see many elements of empowerment and strength in the female characters of whichever version. Still, most now believe that these roles and the plotlines have been seriously weakened to the point where future generations may see nothing worth admiring any longer. These young people may enjoy the story because of interactive wonders, but that is hardly the same as saying that the production did justice to what de Villeneneuve saw centuries before when she first gave her characters their masks of honesty.

Commentators such as Brode, who have written extensively on Disney and its evolution from Walt to Woodstock (or even through the microscope of Multiculturism and the Mouse), take a similar line of concern but from a diametrically opposing way. They argue that, contrary to what many people believe, Disney and Company were not simpleton movie makers who do little but… [END OF PREVIEW]

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