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Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast is a traditional folktale (type 425C -- search for a lost husband -- in the Aarne-Thompson[?] classification). The first published version of the fairy tale was a meandering rendition by Madame Gabrielle de Villeneuve[?], published in La jeune ameriquaine, et les contes marins in 1740. The best known written version was published in 1756 by Mme Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont[?], in Magasin des enfans, ou dialogues entre une sage gouvernante et plusieure de ses čleves; an English translation appeared in 1757.

Similar tales include the story of Cupid and Psyche[?], and Madame D'Aulnoy's Le Mouton (The Ram).

Table of contents

Plot summary Beauty's father, caught in a storm, finds shelter in the Beast's palace. As he leaves, he plucks a rose to bring back to Beauty, offending his unseen host, who tells him he must now die. The father begs to be allowed to see his daughters again: the Beast says that if one of the man's daughters will return to suffer in his place, he may live. Beauty journeys to the Beast's castle, convinced she will be killed: instead, she is made mistress of the enchanted palace, and the Beast asks her to be his wife. She says she can be his friend, and will stay with him forever, but not as his wife, asking only to return to her home for a week to say farewell to her father. Her sisters entice her to stay beyond the allotted week, and she returns belatedly to the castle, finding the Beast lying near death from distress at her failure to return. She begs him to live, so that he may be her husband, and by this act the Beast is transformed into a handsome prince.

Movie versions A sumptuous French version of Beauty and the Beast[?] (La Belle et la Bęte) was made in 1946, directed by Jean Cocteau, starring his lover Jean Marais[?] as the Beast and Josette Day[?] as Beauty. The score was by Georges Auric. The film is notable for its surreal quality and its ability to use existing movie technology to effectively evoke a feeling of magic and enchantment.

In 1995 composer Philip Glass composed an opera meant as an alternative "soundtrack" to the movie, and some DVDs offer the ability to view the movie while listening to either version.

In 1991 Disney produced an an animated film of Beauty and the Beast with screenplay by Linda Woolverton[?], music by Alan Menken[?], and lyrics by Howard Ashman[?]. It won Academy Awards for Best Song and Best Original Score and was the first animated feature ever nominated for a Best Picture Oscar.

Stage Versions

The Disney film was adapted for the stage by Linda Woolverton and Alan Menken, who had worked on the film. Howard Ashman, the original lyricist, had died, and additional lyrics were written by Tim Rice. Five new songs, "No Matter What", "Home", "Me", and "If I Can't Love Her", and "Human Again" were added to those appearing in the original film score in the stage version. There is a great deal of emphasis on pyrotechnics, costuming and special effects to produce the imagery of the enchanted castle.

Television Versions Beauty and the Beast[?], which owed as much to bodice-ripping Romance novels as to the fairy tale, originally broadcast in 1987, was centered around the relationship between Catherine, an attorney who lived in New York City, played by Linda Hamilton, and Vincent, a gentle, but lion-faced "beast", played by Ron Perlman[?], who dwells in the tunnels beneath the city.

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