It's very interesting to notice how Disney's Beauty and the Beast draws inspiration not just from other versions of the fairy tale or from Disney's earlier fairy tale features, but from other love stories in classic Hollywood films and literature that were created for adults.
@starberry-cupcake's post on the ways that Disney's BatB changes the tale's core narrative parallel from the Cupid and Psyche myth to Pride and Prejudice is genius. It's slightly astounding that no one on the creative team has ever cited Pride and Prejudice as an influence: but maybe Austen's novel has become enough of a modern myth and influenced so many other love stories and comedies of manners that Disney's creative team really did write the parallels unconsciously. Of course the similarities can be overstated; Belle and the Beast are less mutually flawed than Elizabeth and Darcy, for one thing, and the Beast changes more while Belle changes less than their Austen counterparts do. (I might argue that Belle and the Beast more closely resemble pop culture's simplified ideas of Elizabeth and Darcy than they do Austen's actual characters.) But in terms of plot structure, the parallels are spot-on.
Even if the Austen parallels were accidental, though, the movie's creative team has freely admitted to other inspirations. Screenwriter Linda Woolverton has stated that there's a lot of Katharine Hepburn in Belle. That her characterization in general was strongly influenced by Hepburn's portrayal of Jo in the 1933 film version of Little Women (albeit with her tomboyishness toned down), and that her snappy arguments with the Beast in the dinner-invitation and wound-tending scenes were inspired by Hepburn and Spencer Tracy's similar bickering in their romantic comedies.
Then there are the other obvious parallels with other movies, which I seem to remember the trivia page on IMDB.com pointing out. Belle's iconic blue and white peasant dress looks similar to Dorothy's gingham dress from The Wizard of Oz ( not a romantic movie, of course, but very much an example of classic Hollywood), though whether that was intentional or not I don't know. Her stance on the grassy hill as she sings "I want adventure in the great wide somewhere," on the other hand, is an obvious homage to Julie Andrews' Maria at the beginning of The Sound of Music. Appropriately, we could argue that the plot structure of Disney's BatB mirrors The Sound of Music just as much as it does Pride and Prejudice: a free-spirited heroine doesn't fit in with her community, then unexpectedly goes to live in a new household run by an unhappy, aloof master, and at first she clashes with him, but soon she brings warmth and joy back into his life and softens his heart, their growing love for each other culminates in a romantic dance scene, after which she briefly leaves him and runs back to her old home (although for different reasons), but ultimately she goes back to him and they end up together. (Fortunately, there are no Nazis in Beauty and the Beast to darken Belle and the Prince's newlywed life.)
Then there's the Beast's "death" in Belle's arms, which seems to draw strong inspiration from two romantic death scenes in earlier Hollywood classics. First of all, the camera angles are nearly identical to those of Tony's death in Maria's arms in the original 1961 version of West Side Story, as I remember IMDB.com pointing out. But I also think the scene draws inspiration from another famous Hollywood death scene: the death of Greta Garbo's Marguerite in 1936's Camille. I've never seen anyone else notice the similarity, probably because the characters' genders are reversed, but I've noticed it ever since I first saw the Camille scene in the 1982 version of Annie. The dialogue has clear parallels, with the dying character resigned to their fate (the Beast's "Maybe it's better this way" echoes Marguerite's "Perhaps it's better if I live in your heart, where the world can't see me"), while their lover urges them "Don't think such things"/"Don't talk like that" and tries to convince them that everything will be fine. Then the moment of death is conveyed by Marguerite and the Beast's eyes, as they roll upward and then drift closed, and the reactions of Belle and Robert Taylor's Armand are very similar, as they both pause in horror, then plead "No, no... don't leave me..." and bury their faces in their beloved's chest in anguish.
In all these inspirations and homages, I think it shows that with Beauty and the Beast, Disney set out to create not just another children's movie, but a movie in the spirit of a Golden Ange Hollywood classic that adults could enjoy too. In particular, they set out to create a genuinely romantic picture, which adult couples could enjoy as a "date movie" just as much as their kids would enjoy it as a fairy tale. And as we all know, they succeeded with flying colors!
@ariel-seagull-wings, @themousefromfantasyland, @the-blue-fairie, @superkingofpriderock
FICTIONAL CHARACTER ASK: SISTER MARLINCHEN (MARLENE) FROM THE JUNIPER TREE
Favorite thing about them:
I really emotionally connect with the fact she is a victim of manipulation by her mother. She is forced to be complicit in horrifying acts, yet she is never condemned for her complicity because the narrative knows it is not her fault. That deeply moves me, and I love that this aspect of the tale makes her feel surprisingly nuanced for a fairy tale character. Like all fairy tale characters, of course, the form of the fairy tale means they are blank slates, but while the simplicity of not elaborating on the horrors of her manipulation and what comes of it remains in keeping with the idea of a “flat fairy tale character” that does not have a fully-explored inner life, the SITUATIONS Marlinchen is put through and her RESONSES to those situations that we are allowed to see, all create layers of depth for her character that make her emotionally shattering.
“Marlene was terrified, and began crying and screaming, and ran to her mother, and said, ‘Oh, mother, I have knocked my brother's head off,’ and she cried and cried and could not be comforted.”
This quotation may not give a full, paragraphs-long exploration of the interiority of Marlinchen’s mind, but just the description of her panic – just the description of the physical act in the most basic and simple language – shows us as readers what she is going through. It conveys the sense of pure helplessness of a child better than than the longest introspective passage – and makes her betrayal by her parental figure all the more painful.
Likewise, the image of her “crying tears of blood” is more effective than a novel’s worth of words in conveying a particular sense of grief and guilt and helplessness. It distills everything we have seen up to that point into an image – and that image forces us to reflect on all Marlinchen has been through and feel for her.
Least favorite thing about them:
Awww, I don’t want to say anything bad about her because she suffers enough in the tale and all the negative things she does aren’t her fault. She’s forced to participate in them while at the same time being made to feel guilty for a crime she didn’t commit by the actual perpetrator of that crime.
Three things i have in common with them:
In my childhood and into adulthood, parental and authority figures in my life have made me feel guilty for things outside of my control, forcing me to contend with these things personally and sometimes without other outlets of support.
I tend to immediately place the blame for things on myself when I panic, thinking, “Oh my God, this is my fault, I’m sorry, I’m sorry” even when it is not. So I want to stress how realistic and genuine it feels for Marlinchen to place the blame on herself for knocking her brother’s head off when she’s faced with something that traumatic at such a very young age.
Sometimes, my tendency to internalize things when other people blame me falsely or I falsely put blame on myself cause me to stay silent in the face of bad things happening, leading to things I deeply regret.
Three things i don’t have in common with them:
While I am often quiet and submit to when others want me to feel guilty, sometimes I can push back and lash out at my manipulators.
I have never cooked anyone into black pudding/stew.
I do not have any siblings.
"Oh," she said, "I was so sad when I went out and now I am so contented. That is a splendid bird, he has given me a pair of red shoes."
Happy Marlinchen makes me happy.
brOTP: her and her brother
OTP: N/A, really. I don’t ship her with anyone – although I do hope that when she grows up, she can settle down with someone who can be there for her as she deals with the many traumatic events she experienced as a child.
nOTP: also N/A
Even with happiness restored to her and her mother gone and all the general joy that comes from fairy tale bird magic and magic brother-bird gives, it will take a long time for the scars to fully leave her.
You don’t really have to go out of your way to humanize her mother in your retelling in an attempt to “subvert fairy tale tropes” or what-have-you because Marlinchen is already a subversive figure herself. She subverts the standard “wicked stepsister” trope by being herself a victim of abuse. And, by driving home the horrors of what she suffers, the narrative focuses us on her pain and makes us feel for her. Going out of your way to humanize her mother runs the risk of undercutting what Marlinchen goes through. Maybe I’m just still so burned by Thanos and Gamora in Infinity War, but these are my thoughts.
That being said, the 1990 film that DOES humanize the mother figure (actually her sister in this version) is very good, very complicated, and emotionally resonant.
Song i associate with them:
Not While I’m Around from Sweeney Todd – Both she and Toby are manipulated by maternal figures they put their faith in – and both incidentally end up helping in the cooking of human flesh.
Favorite picture of them:
This Josef Scharl illustration will always be my favorite because I grew up with it:
Who are your twelve (without order of preference) favorite turkish and non-turkish fairy tale/folktale heroines/princesses and why?
And who are your twelve (without order preference) favorite turkish and non-turkish fairy tale/folktale villains and why?
I am really not well-versed in Turkish fairytales with female protagonists so this will be the typical Western stuff for the most part.
- The Lazy Girl from The Three Spinners
- The princess from that Andersen story where all of her brothers turn into swans (I know that this is a common fairy tale type but I specifically like the Andersen version)
- The Little Mermaid
- Snow White
- The Little Match Girl
- The princess from The Princess and the Pea
- The princess from that story where she is gaslighted into marrying the swineherd who is actually a prince of a small kingdom who is obsessed with her (justice for her honestly)
- Btw there was Samed Behrengi tale where the snobbish princess was psychologically tortured into accepting the love of the poor boy. Justice for her too.
- The main girl from that Turkish tale where her father is a giant who eats her mother’s breasts, thinking that he is eating his children. The illustration of the breasts on the plate was quite something.
- The Evil Queen from Snow White
- The stepmother from Hansel and Gretel (because I played her in a school play when I was six, and it is my best acting performance to this day)
- The stepmother from Cinderella (do you notice a pattern lol)
- The Bluebeard for being realistically terrifying
- The giant from Jack and the Beanstalk. The cassette of that tale was the most terrifying I have listened to as a child.
- The con-artist dressmakers from The Emperor’s New Clothes. Again, realistic villainy.
- The Arab (read: Black) - probably castrated- slave from Tahir and Zühre. Justice for him too. I like to think that Beşir is a sympathetic rendition of that character type since he also stalks lovers and rats on them but his actions are more or less heroic.
- The swineherd (for he is a villain)
- The Witch from Rapunzel
- The Evil Wolf from Little Red Riding Hood
- The Sea Witch from The Little Mermaid is interesting because she is not really a villain, but she still has the protagonist’s sisters deliver her a dagger to kill her beloved
- Kasım from Ali Baba and Forty Thieves. Not exactly a villain but his death was pretty terrifying.
- The Sultan in every Turkish Keloğlan tale who tries to prevent Keloğlan marrying his daughter deserves a honorary mention.
A Czech fairytale, english translation
I’ve been thinking about making another fantasy story and picked up my fairy tale book to find some inspiration. And lo and behold, I did. So much that I decided to find justice for Liliana, the third sister but that’s for another post. Btw, this one is translated from Polish, which was translated from Czech, so in case the Czech original is found, stuff may not add up. Also, this is hot off the press translation, expect some mistakes.
Now, I shall tell you about Janeczek as you might not have heard about him yet. There was once a coal man, poor, as that’s how it usually goes. He did have a seven-year-old son, Janeczek. The coal man had long ago become a widower and he had to take care of his son alone. The boy, however, didn’t like to learn that much , he’d rather look after grazing goats, and he very much liked strolling around the forest. And that would be all. Years passed and Janeczek grew up to be a comely young lad. One day, as usually, he brought the goats to the forest, though never mind where to, so that he didn’t even come back home for dinner.
And the goats, as goats do, sauntered around and searched for something delicious to nibble at, cause - as you know - these fussy creatures wouldn’t eat just anything random. In the meantime, Janeczek made a little garden out of twigs, planted flowers there, brought water in his cap and lovingly watered the flowers. Then, an idea popped up in his mind, as to search in the forest for the magical flower, which he heard about a little bit. Believe it, that such things do happen! As such, the goats followed the goats, while he wandered deeper into the forest. He looked, and there, some gray birdie flew out of the copse, as if to say something. Flying closer, then again a bit back, as if wanting to lead Janeczek somewhere. How strange! What could the birdie want? Well, well, Janeczek followed him and that’s how he came to a place, which had some kind of opening. Could this be a cave? No idea, as to what it could be! Janeczek looked around, and no way nor path in sight. Not knowing what now, he started to curse: “To hell with this birdie wretched folk! Now, I have absolutely no ide where I am!
In that moment fluttered the birdie, almost directly under his nose, with a twig in its beak. After throwing the twig right before his legs, the birdie then flew into a crack in the rock, where it sat down, and well it sits. All while chirping somewhat quaintly. Our nice Janeczek understood the birdie’s advice, took the twig, hit the rock three times with it, and then the rock immediately cracked open. A moment he looked in stupor at what was going on, but then he plucked up courage and went inside, because boys like him always want to investigate everything. At first he saw nothing due to the sudden darkness, he only felt that he was in an unknown place. A moment later the place lit up and then he found himself surrounded by plentiful of wonderful flowers, such flowers, which in all his life he had never seen before. Amongst these flowers scurried around many little midgets and none of them was bigger than a half-litre jug. Swarming like in an anthill, everyone was busy with some kind of work. Janeczek looked upon this breathlessly, his eyes popping out from his wonder. Way off in the distance there stood a glass castle, so sparkling and shiny, that it hurt his eyes. All this took a long moment, when suddenly a girl appeared in front of him, as if rising from the ground. Her whole head was covered in gold. She asked Janeczek:
“What are you looking for at our place?”
That made him even more surprised and only after a while he answered:
“Oh, well, looking for luck” Because only such a thought came to his mind.
“In that case, follow me and you will get something. We have something for you”, the girl said. Then, she led him by his hand and as they were walking together, Janeczek asked: “What’s your name?”
“They call me Celinka. I have two other sisters and I am the one who restores health.”
“Could it be that you hath sick ones here?” Janeczek asked in surprise.
“How could it be! We don’t even know something like that. We only help those, there, above.”
“How is that possible?”
“Don’t mind it! Here, you have a small grain. If you need anything, let it fall to the ground and I shall appear immediately. I advise you strongly, guard it properly!” Having said that, she gave him a grain the size of an almond.
After a while, walking together like that, they came to the second garden. And here were lots of flowers, but even more beautiful than the ones before. In this garden ruled Celinka’s older sister, whose name was Milenka. She, in turn, could bring back eyesight. She bustled around in her garden, filling up the entire place with her own self: she fluttered on a glass twig and spilled out pearls everywhere. And these shone so much, that they looked like fiery sparks, as if someone had scattered stars. There were so many lying around that one could pick them up in baskets. Janeczek liked these pearls very much. Oh, if only she could give me one as a memento. And so, Milenka threw him one pearl. When he held it in his hand, she spoke:
“Be careful, guard it properly! If you ever need me, drop it to the ground and I shall appear immediately.”
Now, Milenka joined the two and went with them. Shortly after, laughter and singing reached their ears.
“What is it? I hear singing!” Janeczek spoke up.
“We’re going to our oldest sister. Her name is Liliana and is the lady of the treasures.”
When they reached their destination, he started to look around, curious about the treasures. In the meantime, Lilianka plucked out a whithered rose, gave it to him and said:
“Take it and put it into your pocket. I give this rose to you as a memento.”
Just as he put the flower into his pocket, something thrummed. At that, the pocket became so heavy that he had to hold it up somehow.
The girls showed him around here and there but then a great longing for his neck of the woods overcame his mind. And he longed for nothing more than to be at home again.
“Surely you don’t like it here,” all three asked at once.
“I wouldn’t say it,” he refuted, “but I would like to be at home now.”
“Well, we’re not going to hold you here any longer. Return! But diligently guard the things we gave you!”
Suddenly darkness filled the surroundings. Janeczek didn’t even know how it came to be and in this moment he found himself at the entrance to the cave in that rock. In the next moment he was outside the cave. The gray birdie, that waited there for him, shot up and flew before him, showing the way back. Janeczek jauntily ran after him and soon was back home. He was sure his father would be overjoyed, when he showed the money. He looked and saw, the door was locked. No coal man in sight. The goats disappeared as well. Maybe the father went to look for the son in the forest?
Janeczek was glad that he was in the ordinary world and at home. The house, however, when he took a closer look, seemed to be very poor and empty.
What awaits me? he wondered To live in poverty till death? Then, he decided: Oh, why not, let’s go out into the world.
Honestly speaking, can’t blame him for that decision.
Janeczek tied his money into a knot and so he went. And as befitting a wanderer - with a stick in his hand.
He wandered and wandered, from one city to another he ventured. He stopped by for a bit to listen to various news and rumours. That way he dropped by the capital, where the king resided in. Everything was covered by a black shroud, a mourning atmosphere everywhere, like before a grand funeral.
He asked a random person passing by, what was going on. To which he was told: “Well, we are in deep mourning. The princess is very sick and there is no doctor who could help her. Poor gal, probably won’t live for long.”
Janeczek, having heard that, thought: Maybe I should go up to the king? Maybe the grain would help? He pondered for a bit, then took courage and went in the direction of the castle stairs. There he introduced himself as a doctor from India. The guards let him through and that’s how he ended up in the castle. He was then led to the king.
“Ah, my dear golden young lad, I myself don’t know anymore what to do. Such people like you came here about fity. I doubt if you could make a difference. But seeing how you came from so far away, try. If you manage to heal her, I won’t be saddened to part with even half of the kingdom.” Janeczek was led to the chamber, where the princess was lying. Oh, you people, what a sad sight it was! It couldn’t be any worse, she looked like suffering incarnate. Janeczek asked everyone to leave the chamber as not to interrupt him. When he was alone with the princess, he dropped the grain onto the ground. The grain barely touched the ground, when the golden girl Celinka appeared, asking quietly; “Why are you summoning me?”
“If you can, heal the princess!” he pleaded.
Celinka came up to the bed, took the princess’ hand, squeezed three times and kissed so lightly as if stroking a flower. Before he knew it, she was long gone. The princess moved and tried to stand up. She felt so light, she tried to leave the bed. Only that she did it in a manner as if she didn’t recognize anything around her, as if she was blind. Janeczek quickly took out the pearl, dropped it to the ground, thump - and immediately Milenka, the second sister, stood before him, asking just as quietly: “Why are you summoning me?”
“The princess is, admittedly, healthy, but due to the sickness she lost her eyesight. Could you help her?” he pleaded.
Milenka went up to the princess, moistened her thumb with her salvia and three times rubbed the temples and eyes of the blind, three times here and then there. Before he knew it, Milenka was long gone and he didn’t make it in time to thank her.
The princess immediately opened her eyes. She looked and saw, before her stood a beautiful youngster, Janeczek. Out of joy the words were stuck in her throat. But what were word needed for! The news of her recovery immediately spread around the castle. Everyone raced back and forth, lots of commotion and joy going on, but the most happy out of all was the king. When he calmed down a bit, he said:
“There is not a thing in this whole world that I would deny you, since what you’ve done is worth more than the whole kingdom”
He took their hands, interwined them and added:
“Dear children, live in good luck till the last of your days.”
And that’s how it ended, as it couldn’t be any better. There was a wedding, so grand that no one has seen so far and wouldn’t see as it lasted a whole month. When it did, however, end, they took back the old coal man and lived happily ever after for very long years.