What is it about the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast that holds such appeal? The story has its beginnings in the mid 1700’s in France though multiple variations of the tale exist.
The gist of the story centers on Belle, her father and the Beast. The father after a long journey, stumbles upon the castle and is shown great bounty and riches. The master of the castle, the Beast, bids him stay but he begs for his freedom. The beast grants it the man will promise to send his daughter to take his place and remain in the castle forever. The father reluctantly agrees and returns home. Belle learns of the promise and being good and of pure heart, completes her part of the bargain.
Every night the Beast asks Belle to marry him and every night she refuses. Over time, she grows lonely for her family and asks the Beast if she may visit them. He gives her one week and some magic items to take with her. Once home, she has doubts about returning to the castle where she was treated like a princess. She looks in the magic mirror in time to discover the Best lies near death from heartbreak over her departure and she hurries back to the castle. Finding him near death, she weeps and proclaims her love for him. Her tears fall on the Beast and he is transformed into a handsome prince. He explains that an evil fairy cursed him because he would not give her shelter on a rainy night and only true love could break the spell. Belle and the Beast live happily ever after.
So is it being doted on by a rich and powerful being that is the allure? Maybe. More likely it is the romantic notion that our absence could mean so much to one who loves us that self-neglect in the wake of heart ache could bring them to death’s door. Or that our own love for them could bring about an amazing transformation. Seriously. What woman hasn’t thought at some, ‘if only he knew how much I loved him, he would stop this or that’? We all have and the idea that our love could be compelling enough to make him pick up his socks, quit smoking or transform from a beast to a prince is the reason the story has been so successfully adapted time and again.
A television show by the same name aired from 1987 to 1989 starring Linda Hamilton as Catherine, a Lawyer in New York City and Ron Perlman as the Beast. Perlman’s beast was so chivalrous, gentle and still tortured by his love for Catherine that viewers, particularly women, tuned in week after week to see if the pair could yet find a way to be together. Hamilton left the series and ratings dropped as the chemistry between the two was no longer part of the show. To this day, I want to see those two get together.
Disney hit it big with Beauty and the Beast in 1991 which won Academy Awards for Best Song and Best Original Score. At least seven other versions have been committed to film since 1946. And now comes a promising 8th version.
Beastly opens July 30, 2010 and stars Vanessa Hudgens, Alex Pettyfer and Mary Kate Olsen. The trailer had me riveted even though I know the story line. Pettyfer is Kyle, a good-looking, rich kid with a mean streak. He is invites a Goth classmate to a school function and then behaves with savage cruelty toward her. Yes, she’s a witch and she puts him under a spell. He becomes the embodiment of everything he despises and finds grotesque. The witch explains he has one year to find someone who can love him as he is, an insurmountable task as far as he is concerned. His father, no longer able to stand the sight of him, banishes him to Brooklyn along with a care giver and a blind tutor (Neil Patrick Harris). He stumbles upon a drug addict in the act of killing a violent drug dealer and steps in. He promises to grant the addict his freedom and to keep the addicts daughter safe if, in return, she will live with him in his apartment.
Mary Kate Ashley makes a wicked looking witch and in the trailer scenes is downright chilling. Vanessa Hudgens has the right look and demeanor for the pure-hearted beauty and Alex Pettyfer is by turns obnoxious, pitiful and gallant. This is definitely a summer movie to watch for. I know I will be!