It's a tale as old as time: if you grew up in the '90's or had children/grandchildren during that time (basically, if you were alive during the 90's), you know all about the hay days of Disney movies. One of these is Beauty and the Beast, the first animated film in history to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. The most recent hype around the classic tale has been the release of the Beauty and the Beast live-action trailer starring Emma Watson, following the recent trend that what is old is new again.
In honour of the classic tale's rebirth, we're taking a look at the original Disney movie for some facts you might not have known...
1. Walt Disney wanted to develop the tale back in the '30s and 50's, but the writers found the story too difficult to adapt. Plus, while Disney contemplated the idea, a live-action version of the movie was released by French playwright Jean Cocteau in 1946. Probably not wanting to clash with the new film, Disney put off the idea.
2. In the late '80s, Disney hired British animator Roger Purdum to direct a non-musical version of Beauty and the Beast. After 10 weeks of storyboarding, no one was particularly thrilled with the result: the story was too dark and depressing. B&TB script writer Linda Woolverton told the Los Angeles times: "In the middle of our process, Little Mermaid premiered, and that changed everything." The film's catchy, upbeat music numbers resonated with audiences and added to the emotional undertones of the story. Woolverton then flew to Disney in Florida to meet with the film's animation and musical team Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, where they instantly clicked and conjured up the musical version of Beauty and the Beast we know today.
3. Jackie Chan was the voice of the Beast in the Chinese adaptation of the film, even the singing!
4. Katharine Hepburn's portrayal of Jo March in Little Women inspired the characterisation of Belle. Woolverton used Hepburn as inspiration because she wanted to make a Belle a stronger, more independent character.
An early version of the movie contained no music, and also gave Belle a little sister named Clarice and a cat named Charley.
5. Belle is the only person in her town to wear blue, which is meant to symbolise how different she is from everyone else.
6. The Beast is a combinatoin various animals: the mane of a lion, the beard and head of a buffalo, the brow of a gorilla, the eyes of a human, the tusks of a wild boar, the body of a bear, and the legs and tail of a wolf. Animator Glen Keane also said that “Beast actually has a rainbow bum, but nobody knows that but Belle."
7. Belle was the second Disney princess, after Cinderella, to not be royal by birth. Tiana is the third.
8. Julie Andrews was allegedly the first choice to play Mrs. Potts.
9. Before the character Chip was expanded, the "cute" character was supposed to be a music box that only communicated through musical notes, like Dopey from Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs.
10. Angela Lansbury, the actual voice of Mrs. Potts, said the original version of "Beauty and the Beast" was too "rock n' roll" for her and she felt ill-suited to sing it. She recorded one take at the director’s request, to have for a back up if nothing else worked, and that one recording ended up in the film.
11. The song "Be Our Guest" was at first supposed to be sung to Maurice (Belle's father), but everyone felt it was too good to waste on a secondary character and decided to include Belle in it.
12. The beloved clock Cogsworth was written with John Cleese in mind, but he turned down the role.
13. The Beast's real name is Prince Adam, although never mentioned in the film.
14. John Alvin was the artist who created the movie's iconic poster. He also designed the posters for E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial,Gremlins, The Lion King, The Color Purple, and Blazing Saddles, and others.