The story of Beauty and the Beast is familiar one. It’s therefore, understandable that many writers have tried their hand at adapting the story.
In the 1998 Lifetime TV movie, Beauty, the eponymous Beauty is Alix Miller (Janine Turner). A portrait painter by trade, Alix has followed her father into the family business. When her father gets sick and is unable to take the next job, Alix takes his place. The client or Beast is the reclusive writer Lee Compton (Jamey Sheridan). Lee has been disfigured by a disease and has chosen to withdraw from the rest of the world. This piece of information is unknown to Alix until she takes the job, but being the professional that she is, she goes on with her work. Their relationship shifts from painter and client to potential lovers, but Lee’s anxieties may keep them apart.
As Lifetime movies go, this television movie is not bad. I also appreciate that this adaptation is a stripped down, bare bones narrative that gets the core of Beauty and the Beast without relying on the more traditional aspects of the fairy tale genre.
As a writer and a reader, the fun of fairy tales is that the stories can be adapted again and again in new and different ways.
Amanda Ashley’s 2014 historical romance/fantasy novel, Beauty’s Beast is new twist on Beauty And The Beast.
At the young age of 17, Kristine was accused and found guilty of murdering a man who tried to take advantage of her. She is soon to meet her fate at the gallows. That is until she receives an unexpected marriage proposal.
Erik Trevayne is widely known as the Demon Lord of Hawksbridge Castle. Cursed soon after the death of his first wife, Erik marries Kristine because he wishes to have a child before the curse takes a complete hold of him. But what starts as a marriage of convenience turns into something more. Will Erik and Kristine be able to undo the curse or will Erik spend the rest of his days as a beast?
I have not read this genre in a long time. The book was surprisingly good. What hooked me as a reader was the human aspect of the characters. While there are the traditional elements of the genre written into the plot, Erik and Kristine both have their fair share of heartache. It is that heartache that binds them together and draws the reader into the story.
Belle (Josette Day) is the youngest daughter of a once wealthy merchant who lost his fortune when the ships carrying his cargo drowned. While her siblings keep spending money that they do not have, Belle has taken on the role of family servant. Avenant (Jean Marais) is a friend of Belle’s brother, who would like nothing more than to marry Belle. But she is uninterested in him.
While crossing through a dark forest at night, Belle’s father is welcomed into a castle the seems empty. On his way out, he steals a rose, an act which angers the beast (also Jean Marais) that owns the castle. Belle’s father has two options: sacrifice his life or send one of his daughters in his stead. Taking her father’s place, Belle rides to the Beast’s castle, not knowing what or who is waiting for her.
Unlike the Disney movie, which is a bit simple (I love that movie, but it’s oversimplified in terms of character), this movie is full of psychological symbolism and not for young children. One of the most fascinating elements of this movie is not the movie, but what was going on in the world at the time. This movie was released just after World War II, when Europe was relying on the Marshall Plan to help rebuild from the destruction that the war created.
We all know the 1991 Disney Beauty And Beast movie. In nearly a quarter of a century since the movie’s initial release, the images and songs have become iconic. Millions of little girls (myself included) had some sort of merchandise attached to this movie at one point or another. But there is another movie adaptation of Beauty And The Beast that deserves equal attention.
The 1946 Beauty And The Beast, directed by Jean Cocteau and starring Josette Day as Belle and Jean Marais as The Beast/The Prince/Avenant is much closer to the original fairy tale than the more contemporary adaptations. The psychology of the fairy tale and the characters journey is not as diluted as the Disney adaptation is. The costumes are absolutely beautiful. This movie was made as the ashes of Nazi controlled Europe was slowly dying. The fact alone makes the movie that much better.
The only thing I could have done without is Belle fainting when she sees the Beast for the first time. Other than that, the movie is perfect.