We can’t quite believe it, but it’s officially 25 years since ‘Beauty And The Beast’ was first released.
A crucial part of any 90s kid’s childhood, it was a significant film for Disney, as it helped continue their so-called “Renaissance”, following the mammoth success of ‘The Little Mermaid’ two years prior, and even became the first animated film to be nominated for Best Film at the Oscars.
By now, you’ve probably seen the classic fairytale film a million times, but watching it back, there are still details we’d never spotted before, and here are just 25 of them...
1. The characters’ names have more meaning than you might realise
Yes, we all know that Belle’s name translates to “beauty” or “beautiful”, but did you realise that Phillippe, the name of the family’s horse, comes from the Greek word for “lover of horses”? Or that LeFou, the name of Gaston’s hapless sidekick, literally translates to “the fool”?
In the Broadway musical, the unnamed Wardrobe is given the fabulous - though rather unflattering - moniker Madame La Grande Bouche, which is ‘Mrs Big Mouth’ in French.
2. A Disney character from years earlier makes an appearance
In the grand tradition of sneaking Disney characters into other films, Bambi’s mother is seen in one of the earliest shots of ‘Beauty And The Beast’, outside the castle. We’re just pleased to see she’s alive and well.
3. The Prince might have needed to learn a lesson, but he was awfully young when that curse was put on him
In the song ‘Be Our Guest’, Lumière reveals he’s been waiting for the curse to be lifted for a decade. Given that it ends on his 21st birthday, you can work out that he was only 11 when the Enchantress turned him into a Beast for not allowing her to come inside for the evening. He’d probably just been told not to speak to strangers, to be honest.
4. Belle’s outfit has gone down in Disney history, but it’s also significant for another reason
In the opening number, ‘Belle’, the townspeople mutter to themselves that Belle is totally different to everyone else in the village. Driving this point home is the fact she’s the only character who wears blue - until she meets the Beast, that is.
5. But her wardrobe isn’t the only thing that sets her apart
A loose strand of hair on Belle’s face holds more importance than you might think, particularly if you speak to screenwriter Linda Woolverton, who said: “The only thing I wrote [about Belle’s appearance] was ‘she has a little wisp of hair that keeps falling in her face’. Because I wanted her not to be perfect. It was important that not every hair be in place.”
6. Maurice’s wardrobe also reflects his personality
Eagle-eyed fans might notice that his socks never match.
7. There’s some foreshadowing to another Disney film
Although Bambi’s mother is the only other Disney character seen in the film, Belle’s dreamy recollection of “far-off palaces, daring swordfights, magic spells [and] a prince in disguise” have led some fans to wonder whether she’s referencing ‘Aladdin’, the next Disney film to be released after ‘Beauty And The Beast’.
8. The film’s directors decided to include themselves in the film
In the opening number, ‘Belle’, two men are seen singing who bear a striking resemblance to the film’s directors, Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise, prompting some fans to believe they deliberately inserted themselves into the film.
9. The gargoyles in the Beast’s castle are pretty unique
The majority of them are actually based on old concept ideas animators designed for the Beast’s appearance, before deciding on the look we all know today.
10. And about that look…
Animator Glen Keane came up with the design for the Beast after a trip to Regent’s Park Zoo in London. His features include a lion’s mane, the head of a buffalo, a bear’s body, wolf’s legs and, crucially, a human’s eyes.
11. Maurice gets very lost on the way to the Beast’s castle
Street signs Maurice discovers point to Anaheim, Valencia and Glendale - all of which are in California, pretty far from rural France, where the film is set.
12. Cogsworth suggests wooing Belle with “flowers”, “chocolates” and “secrets he doesn’t intend to keep”
This was actually an ad lib from voice actor David Ogden Stiers.
13. Chip is the only character in the castle who refers to Belle by her actual name
In fact, the rest of the workers refer to her only as “the girl” when talking about the film’s lead character.
14. We want more Wardrobe
The unnamed Wardrobe is a definite scene-stealer, but what you mightn’t know is that in a deleted number, she actually got a chance to really shine.
In ‘Human Again’, which was eventually scrapped due to time restraints and fears about the film’s pacing, she looks forward to becoming, well, human again, singing: “I’ll wear lipstick and rouge, and I won’t be so huge, why - I’ll easily fit through that door. I’ll exude savoir-faire, I’ll wear gowns! I’ll have hair!”
The number ends with the Wardrobe leaping off the balcony into the fountain below, much to the dismay of the rest of the characters.
15. Seriously, what’s going on with the weather?
In the opening number, Belle casually lounges in a sunny field and blows on a dandelion. By the time Gaston does his musical number in the pub, though, it’s snowing outside.
16. Nobody says the Beast’s name all the way through the film
At several points, Belle refers to her captor-turned-beloved as ‘The Beast’ and even just ‘Beast’, towards the end of the film when she’s afraid he’ll die.
On an accompanying CD-ROM released years later, it’s confirmed his name is Prince Adam… but Beast is so much more distinctive, don’t you think?
17. An often-missed detail in the Beast’s chamber relates to a deleted scene
You might have spotted an animal skeleton in the Beast’s private room, though it’s only seen for a second, so you’d be forgiven for missing it. This alludes to a seriously dark scene which was eventually scrapped, which saw the Beast dragging an animal carcass through the castle, to show the audience he was losing grasp of his human side.
18. Gaston steals one of his lines from Shakespeare himself
During ‘Kill The Beast’, Gaston urges the townspeople to “screw [their] courage to the sticking point”, a line taken from ‘MacBeth’. A deleted sequence also shows Belle reading ‘Romeo And Juliet’ to the Beast, though this didn’t make the final cut.
19. The death of Gaston includes one particularly chilling detail
Viewers’ final glimpse of Gaston shows a skull in each of his eyes, as he falls to his demise.
20. There’s a reason Belle’s reaction to The Beast’s “death” is so moving
Voice actress Paige O’Hara was actually sobbing in the booth when recording the scene, to the point that those behind the scenes had to enquire whether she was alright. She offered a one-word reply: “Acting!”
21. The smoke during that sequence wasn’t actually animated
The Beast’s transformation into a human included footage of actual smoke, re-used from the oft-overlooked Disney offering, ‘The Black Cauldron’.
22. And that wasn’t the only times producers cut corners
In the very last scene, the newly-human Prince Adam and Belle dance together as they do earlier in the film. But this time, their movements were recycled from ‘Sleeping Beauty’, as animators were running short on time.
23. The film’s credits include a heart-wrenching dedication
‘Beauty And The Beast’ is dedicated to Howard Ashman, who provided lyrics to songs in both ‘Beauty And The Beast’ and ‘The Little Mermaid’.
The dedication reads: “To our friend Howard, who gave a mermaid her voice and a beast his soul, we will be forever grateful.”
Howard died from AIDS-related complications at the age of 40 shortly before the film hit cinemas. He never got to see ‘Beauty And The Beast’ in its completed form, including the fact its title song - which he co-wrote - won the Oscar for Best Original Song.
24. Belle would go on to appear in another Disney classic
When ‘The Hunchback Of Notre Dame’ was released five years after ‘Beauty And The Beast’, Belle is seen walking through the streets of Paris in her famous blue outfit, in a nod to the opening number of her film.
25. The Beast was a fool not to go to the ballroom with Belle looking like this
What a transformation.