Before you see the new live-action version, check out ten other Beauty and the Beast adaptations
Over the years, the ‘tale as old as time’ has been seen in some very interesting and surprising incarnations. While we eagerly anticipate the release of Walt Disney Pictures‘ live-action Beauty and the Beast, we’re looking back at some of the most notable adaptations of the original french fairy tale by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve. From film to television, there are so many Beauty and the Beast adaptations, including live-action storybook films, decade appropriate ‘modern’ re-imaginings, the hugely-successful Disney animated feature and it’s spin-offs.
La Belle et la Bete (1946)
The first major cinematic incarnation of the story hails from French filmmaker Jean Cocteau. It was inspired by a later edition of the fairy tale written by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont, which would go on to be the most widely-known version of the tale. In it, Beauty willingly trades her life in for her father’s after he’s imprisoned by a royal Beast and through love helps breaks the curse on the castle by teaching the prince who he really is. The film combined elements of Beaumont’s simplified archetypes and the aesthetic of Gustave Doré, illustrator of the most popular edition of Don Quixote. It’s said that this film discouraged Walt Disney from pursuing his animated adaptation around the same time this instant classic was released.
CBS’ Beauty and the Beast (1987)
Beauty and the Beast (1991)
During Disney’s Renaissance period, the animation studio decided to give Beauty and the Beast another go and released the global hit. This version, however, departed a bit from the original fairy tale by giving Belle a more empowering personality, a love for books, and more courage. It also gave us dream library goals, a need to try ‘the grey stuff’ (which you can order at Disney World) and iconic Disney songs. A few years later, the movie would be adapted into a musical hit on Broadway as well.
Beautician and the Beast (1997)
Fran Drescher starred in one of the more unique takes of the story as a beautician who gets mistaken for a science teacher and sent to work for a Eastern European dictator (Timothy Dalton) to tutor his kids. Originally, Drescher wanted to produce a romantic comedy version of the King and I, but wasn’t able to attain the rights, so she opted for Beautician and the Beast instead.
Beauty and the Beast: Enchanted Christmas (1997)
Not a prequel or a sequel, this direct-to-video release takes place in the middle (a midquel?) of the original animated movie, directly after the wolf fight. In it, we learn about Beast’s dislike for Christmas. It turns out that that’s when the curse was placed on him, but Belle gets him to come around to the spirit of the holidays. She also almost violently drowns when the castle’s pipe organ (Tim Curry) tries to have her killed so the curse won’t be broken.
Enchanted Christmas is one of two direct-to-home video animated followups to the 1991 film. Belle’s Magical World was released the following year and offers three short stories set during the events of the original film.
Based on the Alex Finn novel by the same name, Beastly is a YA movie where the main events that happen in Beauty and the Beast happen to high schoolers. Alex Pettyfer plays the most popular boy in class who gets cursed for being a jerk and Vanessa Hudgens plays his nerdy classmate who finds herself indebted to him after his transformation when he saves her drug-addicted father. Not recognizing him under the crazy tattoos and baldness, she grows closer to him and helps him become a better person in order to break the spell.
ABC’s Once Upon a Time (2012)
On Once Upon a Time, all of the Disney canon fairy tales get different spins and intersect. One of the show’s major villains early on was Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle), who gets mashed up with the Beast. Belle (Emilie de Ravin) still follows her major beats as the woman who helps tame his dark side, but it plays a bigger role in the show’s mythology of ‘the dark one.’