Many folks in my age group consider the Disney Renaissance to be the finest era of Disney filmmaking in its long history. Many people in that age group would further say that this next movie in the Disney Odyssey is one of the greatest Disney movies ever made. Though the current young generation of would-be Disney princesses would say that their favorite princess is Anna or Elsa, many of my generation would immediately and without hesitation say Ariel (who doesn’t want to breathe underwater and have voluptuous hair, but perhaps even more will name… Belle.
“Belle. It’s Belle. BELLE IS THE BEST DISNEY PRINCESS,” they will say, fervently and unyieldingly, gesturing to their bookshelves, their blue hair bows, their coordinated porcelain tea sets with pale purple trim and decorative candelabras.
Belle is the Elizabeth Bennett of the Disney canon: she is beautiful, deeply intelligent, and doesn’t have time for judgy small-town villagers. She earns her true love/destiny/happiness through Being Herself To The Max, that is, by loving books, caring deeply for her family member(s), and for not backing down in the face of a brutish, emotionally unstable lonely man. In fact, she doesn’t back down SO MUCH that that brutish, emotionally unstable lonely man totally falls in love with her, and then she’s immediately wealthier than her entire obnoxious town combined.
It’s the ultimate dream. Get rich and find the man of your dreams simply by being yourself and reading a lot.
Please don’t take any of this to mean that I don’t like Belle, or that I’m judging you for liking Belle the best. I’m absolutely not. I freaking love Belle. She’s great. She is the foundation for many strong-willed, deeply loving, action-ready heroines yet to come, and she is wonderful.
To celebrate Belle’s radness, the Fella and I invited some truly amazing people for this edition of the Disney Odyssey, one of whom was only seeing this movie for the second time… ever.
This time we welcomed my personal steampunk fairy godparents Tee and Pip, and their wonderful daughter (codename: Sonic Boom).
Tee and Pip are co-authors of the award-winning series the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences – I’m sure if you’ve read anything else on this blog you’ve heard me mention them before – among other fantasy and science fiction stories of their own. They are fantastic human beings who also run a podcast called The Shared Desk about writing, publishing, pop culture, and social media. CHECK. THEM. OUT.
And now, on to the movie.
The Film: Beauty and the Beast (1991)