Beauty and The Beast: 15 Facts to Know

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If Walt Disney were alive, he would have done exactly this Beauty and The Beast live action movie. Not one more scene, not one less shot. This is, so, so Disney! By far this is the most Disney movie Disney Studios ever made. I watched it and ended absolutely in love, happy, reconciled with life, convinced that love can conquer everything and it’s more powerful than any curse.

Beauty and The Beast
Photo courtesy Disney Studios

Here are 15 facts about this Beauty and The Beast you should know before watching it:

1. The new Disney film conveys with force and clarity a message of hope, very appropriate for these times. This message is based on four principles: love conquers everything; what is important is what is inside, not the superficial or the exterior beauty; human beings come to this world in all colors and shapes and we all have the same right to dream and be happy; and tolerance and acceptance must begin with ourselves: to accept and love us as we are.

2. This is not a re-make of the Disney animated film. Bill Condon’s film is a tribute to that classic of animation, but it is above all and in all senses, an original creation, a timeless story and a masterpiece of digital and 3D technologies.

3. It is a tribute to the golden era of Hollywood, and especially to the great musicals of that era, which reaches its climax with Be Our Guest visual extravagance. The scene in the dining room of the Beast’s castle took one month to shoot, six months to prep and over a year to complete. Of its own, only by Be Our Guest, Beauty and The Beast is worth it.

4. The outdoor scenes were filmed in the UK and the bulk of the film was filmed at Shepperton Studios, outside London, where they also filmed movies of the caliber of Lawrence of Arabia, Oliver!, Gandhi, Passage to India and A Clockwork Orange.

5. In the design, construction and decoration of the monumental sets where Beauty and The Beast was filmed, worked clockwise a team of more than 1,000 people.

6. In line with the female empowerment message underlying the film, all department heads of the design team were women: Sarah Greenwood (production design); Virginia Katz (editing), Jacqueline Durran (costumes); Kae Spencer (decoration); Jenny Shircore (makeup); and Lucy Bevan (cast).

7. Enma Watson (Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter saga) and who masterfully interprets Belle, was the first one of the group of actors that accepted the invitation to be part of the project.

8. Belle is not a princess, no matter how much the princesses, especially Disney ones, have modernized themselves. Nor do I think she has an interest in becoming a princess, or dreams of getting married. She is more interested in discovering the world and discovering her place in the world she dreams of, far beyond the village where she lives. Although her story takes place in the eighteenth century in a village in France (Villeneuve), Belle is actually a heroine of the twenty-first century.

9. Not only is Belle an avid reader, who shares her love of reading (Shakespeare included) with the Beast. She is also teaches how to read to other girls in her village (so they can be independent, like her).

10. Although bravery and courage are Belle’s signs (she rides horses, saves her father and the Beast, and is not cajoled by the cocky Gaston) she is at the same time loving, compassionate and especially feminine.

11. The epitome of that femininity is the yellow dress Belle wears with unparalleled grace in the dance scene with the Beast in the castle’s ballroom. Approximately 180 feet of feather light satin organza were used to create it. The dress, which required 3,000 feet of thread and took over 12,000 hours to create, was accentuated with 2,160 Swarovski crystals.

12. In total, 1,500 red roses and 8,700 candles were used in the film.

13. The ballroom floor in the Beast’s castle is made from 12,000 square feet of faux marble and its design is based on a pattern found on the ceiling of the Benedictine Abbey in Braunau, Germany.

14. The 10 glass chandeliers in the ballroom —each measuring 14 feet by 7 feet— are based on actual chandeliers from Versailles which were then frosted, covered in fabric and candlelit.

15. The enchanted forest which surrounds the Beast’s castle and features real trees, hedges, a frozen lake and 20,000 icicles, took 15 weeks to complete.

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