Disney Color Palettes

So, when I was working on this, I spent quite a few minutes searching my screen caps for a close-up picture of Aladdin. More time, in fact, than I would care to admit, considering it should have taken just seconds to find a shot of the main character of the movie. But the issue I was having was that so many of the shots were colorized, with the color, aura, mood lighting, whatever you want to call it coloring the characters’ faces in addition to the backgrounds.  Shots like these:

aladdin-disneyscreencaps.com-2427 aladdin-disneyscreencaps.com-2999 aladdin-disneyscreencaps.com-8626 aladdin-disneyscreencaps.com-9186

In fact, the only time you get an accurate color shot of the characters are in just a few scenes (the marketplace and in the palace during the day). This got me to wondering if this was just my imagination, a coincidence, or something very much intended. So I took a sample of the screenshots that I had downloaded from disneyscreencaps.com (an awesome site, by the way), about 10% of them, and put them together to get an idea of the colorization. This is the result:

Aladdin color palette final copy

You can click to enlarge to prove to yourself that I’m not manipulating the image. These are unaltered screenshots (though a bit low-res to keep the size down).

Remind you of anything? This is the thought that popped into my head after I had assembled the finished product:


Yup, it looks like Carpet. It wasn’t intentional, but the width I had used for my collage (which I kept thin so that the stripes of color would be thicker for emphasis) makes the finished product resemble Carpet, but not just in shape, but in color. The main colors are there: Dark and light purple, gold, and maroon. This was almost certainly intentional by the artists: they chose a palette of colors and stuck with it, weaving threads of it into both the characters and the backgrounds themselves. Aladdin’s got a maroon fez and a purple vest, Jafar’s main color accent to his black is maroon, and he’s got a gold staff. But the rest of the colors don’t follow this pattern: Jasmine wears a kind of light turquoise, the Sultan wears off-white, Genie is bright blue, etc. So the colors we’re seeing in the overall scheme mostly come from the backgrounds themselves, and the reflected light onto the characters’ skin and clothes that gives this illusion. It’s done for mood. Darker scenes have darker colors, big scenic shots are often pink or purple, often at sunset/sunrise to give it a emphasized beauty. The oasis and Jasmine’s gardens are mostly shot in broad daylight, so most of the green color comes from the foliage in the background. Jafar’s takeover is in a cloudy purple to show the darkness overtaking Agrabah and is later red to reflect Jafar’s signature color and his eventual red genie form. (Even Jasmine and the Sultan’s outfits are colored red to reflect Jafar’s total takeover. By the end of the movie, everything is back to normal, with totally unaltered color and bright blue skies.

So this got me to wondering again… This color scheme was so intricately woven into the movie that it could be not be anything but intentional, so what about the other movies of the time? I turned to the rest of what I (and many others) call The Fab Four: The Little Mermaid (1989), Beauty & the Beast (1991), and the Lion King (1994). (Aladdin was 1992, BTW). Here’s what their color palettes look like:

The Little Mermaid Color palette final copy Beauty and the beast color palette final copy The Lion king color palette final

The Little Mermaid (Left), Beauty & the Beast (Center), The Lion King (Left)

Disappointed? I was, at least a bit. There’s not the same coherence of color in these movies as there was in Aladdin. Let’s do a detailed analysis for each (because, if you haven’t noticed this about me yet, that’s sort of my thing).

The Little Mermaid:
Out of all of them, Little Mermaid seems to lack a coherent color palette, and seems much more subdued than the others. This is actually rather understandable, considering where Disney was coming from at the time. Many people signal TLM as the game-changer for Disney, bringing them back out of a slump into the glorious age that brought us the Fab Four, plus other awesome movies like Mulan and Hercules which are definitely on par quality-wise. Before, the movies were a lot darker, with things like The Brave Little Toaster, Oliver & Company, the Black Cauldron, and the Great Mouse Detective. Plus, you have to realize that Little Mermaid takes place under water half the time, and if you remember from that one oceanography class you might have taken in college (and that I definitely did), there’s only a thin layer of the entire ocean where light can penetrate, so I imagine it was a challenge to make it look realistic and yet look like they’re underwater. I also have to give Disney credit because, if you look closely at the underwater shots, they do a fantastic job of varying the light and making it act correctly underwater in a way unequaled until the glory that is Finding Nemo.

But there’s the difference, and this applies to the other two as well: they went for a more realistic approach. Sure, it’s an animated movie about mermaids and magic and whatnot, but there’s nothing too imaginative about their take. It’s not stylized like Hercules to make the characters (and clouds) more closely resemble Greek pottery or Mulan with the backgrounds that resemble Chinese watercolors. It’s just a Disney movie underwater.


Disney should know ears don’t look like sticky buns.


Check out the trees. That’s definitely an art style choice. They even allude to the art style of Chinese watercolors in the opening credits.

Back to Little Mermaid. There’s a ton of detail in the scenes, which kind of muddies the zoomed-out view of the movie. Some of the water scenes have so many details in the rock formations that the brilliant blues and turquoises are darkened, making them not pop quite as much as they could.  Even on those scenes where the background art is gorgeous (like the sunset right before Eric’s wedding to Ursula-in-disguise, the misty greys of the opening sequence of the ship at sea, and the purples of most of Ursula’s scenes, the colors are not as obvious in the grand scheme because the character coloration generally remain constant, so you’ve got a red-haired, purple-shelled, green-tailed, pale-skinned girl against a teal sky with grey clouds and a tan shore. It’s hard to see what the dominant color is supposed to be. Even when there is a dominant color, it’s not as stark a color choice. Check out the rowboat scene with Ariel & Eric. It’s got a kind of teal hue to it, but the characters themselves only look as if the darkness got cranked down a bit, but their color balance stayed the same as usual. You can tell it best by looking at Ariel and Eric’s sleeves, which we know to be white. They’re just a bit of gray, not teal like the background.

Beauty & the Beast:
This color scheme bears a resemblance to Aladdin’s (lots of reds, purples, golds and blues), but it’s far more subdued. There are pops of color here and there (mostly around “Be Our Guest”, with all the colored spotlights they use), and some tonal color changes: Murky blue for the Beast’s castle interior, ominous green for the fight scene, which fades to a more melancholy blue when the Beast’s death/transformation occur. Everything else is mostly just realistic interiors like wallpapers, blue skies, etc. Note that the screenshots were taken from the extended version of the movie, which includes the song “Human Again”. This song’s coloring does a lot more to set the tone than a lot of other scenes. It’s mostly in pinks and purples, which are very bright and hopeful about (you guessed it) being human again. Beast & Belle’s dance sequence and subsequent balcony chat I think is interesting color-wise because the ballroom is gold (matching Belle’s dress) and the nighttime sky is a royal blue (matching Beast’s coat). Similarly, the hunting lodge/tavern scene for the “Gaston” number is very similar in color to Gaston himself, a sort of reddish brown to match his bright red shirt. All of his cronies, too, (except the Bimbettes) blend into the background, giving you this hint that Gaston’s got a kind of control over the town. (Also, what is it with villains and red?)

I’m not saying the comparison between Aladdin’s clear design decision about color and that of B&tB is fair, or that one style is intrinsically better than the other. In fact, I think the absolute single greatest frame of any animated Disney picture is this one:


The colors are amazing, the shot is wonderful, it’s just…gorgeous. I had a Beauty and the Beast trading card collection as a kid and this was my all-time favorite one. But when you zoom out of it, you can’t really get the bright blue sky, the fiery oranges, the fluffy pinks…you just get a tan mess. That’s the point I’m trying to make. The details are great, but it’s colorization is more down-to-earth and realistic.

The Lion King:
The colors definitely pop in this one. They do a great job of setting a color scheme, if not as pronounced as Aladdin’s. You definitely get a feeling in the zoomed-out version that this is an outdoor movie. There’s the greens of the grasslands and jungle, the browns of the desert, and the bright blue African sky. They even set the mood for the villain, though all of the movies do a pretty good job of that. Scar’s early scenes are darker, bland in comparison to the bright colors of the Pridelands. The elephant graveyard background is practically the same as the hyenas’ coats. Scar’s “Be Prepared” scene is ominous, to say the least, with eerie greens and dark silhouettes (and goose-stepping hyenas for that Nazi vibe). Mufasa’s death is a smoky tan from the dust of the wildebeest, with all of the colors so subdued to echo the somber tone. They could have done the standard dark, rainy scene, but they’ve got to save that for the end, of course (although it works better there, with the rain being life-giving instead of mournful as Simba becomes king). And, of course, Simba and Scar’s confrontation is a dark, subdued pink that blazes into fiery red once, obviously, the fire starts. It all works really, really well. This is done, as with the other films, mostly in backgrounds and not in an overall color mask like in Aladdin, with the few exceptions of the fire and nighttime scenes, for obvious reasons.

Anyway, so I hope you like my take on the colors of the Fab Four (most notably, Aladdin), and hopefully you’ll give more thought to this easily overlooked subject when rewatching your favorite Disney movies.


Related Posts:
Little Mermaid Comics
The Disney Animal Paradox
Disney Heroine Body Swap – Part One
Disney Heroine Body Swap – Part Two


Disney What-ifs: Belle’s Mother

Sorry, it’s been a long time since I’ve had any original content (or content at all, for that matter). My posts take a ton of work and video games require a lot less effort, so… Yeah.

Anyway, here’s another post about the most elusive of all creatures: Disney mothers. This time, Belle’s mother, absent from Beauty & the Beast.

Belle's Mom copy

Rosalie loved books, though it was hardly surprising. Born the oldest of three daughters to a renowned literary scholar at the university in Paris, she had access to one of the finest libraries in all of France from a very young age. Though, as a woman, she was unable to officially attend the university, her father strongly believed in educating all of his children with a strict curriculum of mathematics, literature, philosophy and natural science, and allowed Rosalie to sit in on all of his classes.

And so it was that Rosalie met a bright young man at the university, Maurice, who was studying the sciences and who fancied himself an amateur inventor. She could not help but be fascinated with his creations, some of them impractical but all of them imaginative. There was also such an earnest enthusiasm in him that she found infectious, and soon she found herself falling for him. She helped root his inventions in reality with pragmatic thinking and lots of library research, and he kept the sometimes too-serious Rosalie young at heart.

After knowing each other for two years, Maurice proposed to Rosalie. He had created a contraption for the task: a box designed to open with a crank that revealed an expanding sign bearing his proposal. Unfortunately, the mechanism had jammed and failed to open. After several minutes, a lot of elbow grease, quite a bit of hammering and a bit of help from Rosalie herself, she could at last give her emphatic yes.

Rosalie and Maurice were joined a few years later by their daughter, Belle, who had inherited her father’s imagination and her mother’s beauty. Soon, Belle became as voracious a reader as her mother, and the young girl spent countless hours in the university library alongside her mother. Belle also regularly assisted her father with his inventions, fetching tools and reaching into small spaces that his own hands could not fit inside. Rosalie regularly had to be the grounding force when Belle and Maurice were swept up in idealistic fancies–Belle was constantly fantasizing about all of the places she had read about and wanted to visit, and Maurice encouraged her dreams by designing a mechanized hot air balloon to take the journey. Fortunately, Rosalie managed to stop them before Maurice could construct the device that would have undoubtedly blown up half of Paris.

Rosalie loved Paris, loved the university in which she had grown up, but the city streets were dirty, the winters harsh, and Rosalie was often sick. Belle would read at her mother’s bedside whenever a particularly violent cough would keep her bedridden. Soon enough, when struck by a severe bout, her doctor recommended fresh, country air as the only likely cure for her persistent illness. Sad to leave Paris, the family moved to a small, provincial town far from Paris. They chose a lovely house on a private lane with plenty of room in the basement for Maurice’s inventions and a lovely den in which Belle could read the few books they could bring with them.

However, it was at her mother’s bedside that Belle spent most of her time, reading to her as she always did during her convalescence. They no longer had the entire library contents of the university at their disposal, but Belle was happy to travel into town to the bookkeeper’s and was his most loyal customer. Belle would return home and tell her mother of the happenings in town–which were always the same–and of the people–who always seemed to treat the book-loving inventor’s daughter as something of an anomaly. At least the townfolk were kind, and always asked after Rosalie’s health, even though few had actually met the bedridden woman.

Rosalie was most entertained by Belle’s stories of Gaston, a local hunter who had been enamored with her since their very first day in their new town and had been pursuing her with gusto. “Perhaps you should consider accepting him,” Rosalie suggested one day. “It sounds like he is a handsome young man, and as a hunter your family would never want for food…”

“Mother,” Belle replied with a smirk, “Gaston does not even like to read.”

“How positively primeval,” said her mother, and nothing further was said on the matter. In fact, Gaston was so out of the question as a suitor to Rosalie that, from then on, she always referred to him as “that hunter.”

As Rosalie’s illness grew worse, she did her best as the realist in the family to inure her daughter to the possibility of her health not improving. She instructed Belle on the keeping of their finances, which had always fallen under Roslie’s purview– considering Maurice’s often scatterbrained behavior–and gave her advice on the managing of their household, most of which duties Belle had long since assumed.

“And make sure your father eats,” Rosalie had instructed. “When he gets caught up in a project, sometimes he forgets. And you will have to make certain that there is food on the table. I know the last thing you want to do is discourage your father’s ambitions, but no matter how revolutionary an invention of his could be, it will not bring any bread if it does not work. You need to keep him grounded when I am not here anymore.”

Despite the doctor’s hope for her improved health in the fresh air, Rosalie passed away just a few months after moving to the country. Belle had wanted to return to Paris, but in the end they decided to remain in their new home, if only for the sake of their finances. The city was expensive, far more so than the expense to travel to fairs in neighboring towns where Maurice could exhibit and possibly sell his more successful inventions.

Rosalie’s family coped each in their own way. Maurice thrust himself even more deeply into his work, trying to keep himself occupied to keep the grief at bay. Belle disappeared into her books, the more fantastical the better, to take her away from the banality of life without her mother. One day, she decided, she would travel the world, to find the adventure she was always reading about in the books that she and her mother had once shared.


Artist’s Notes:
So, I like to reveal trade secrets about the design of these characters because I spend so much time trying to get it right that I want someone to know how hard I worked. It’s difficult with animated characters to make the parents similar enough to their children that they’re recognizable, but not look like carbon copies of each other. (Frozen, anyone? They didn’t even try.) Unlike with most of my Disney mothers, she is not a composite of other people, at least not in the face. She is all Belle. It’s interesting because I spent a lot of time staring at screen shots trying to find the right angle that I started to notice the differences in art style between animators, or for different shots. Far shots they don’t have a lot of detail, but for super close-ups, there’s just so much of it. This is the shot I used in the end (left) and compare it to a more “typical” Belle look (right):

Closeup Far shot

The second one is a lot more cartoony and she looks a lot younger, too. It’s not just the hair, either. Granted, Belle is squinting in the first picture, but her eyes aren’t typical the Disney-fied ginormous things, and her lips are way more pouty, the nose is more elegant… So, yeah, I definitely picked the first photo for the base, altered the face shape a bit, picked some different lips from another shot and shifted the eyes so they were actually looking in the correct direction.

The gray hair was a challenge. At first, I didn’t have any, but then I realized Maurice’s hair is all white. My reasoning is that they probably waited a long time before having kids, or they just couldn’t until Belle decided to make her appearance. So, since they were maybe a bit of an older couple, even if Rosalie was younger, they could both be going gray. Here’s the original without the gray, which I like better, but that’s just because I really wasn’t happy with the stripey-ness:

Belle's Mom copy

I tried to look at some other older Disney characters for reference but, like Maurice, they just go for the all-white or all-gray look, probably because it’s easier to animate. One exception is Mulan’s mom, who has two big swaths of gray on the sides, which really does work for her hair style, but Rosalie’s was so wavy that doing some stripes at the temples wasn’t going to look right. Even Ursula’s got two gray stripes on the sides, but her hair’s white to begin with, so big deal.

Her body and blanket are actually Cinderella’s. I tried to make my own bumps under the sheets, but it wasn’t going well, so I cheated.

Also, yay for me continuing my streak of not having mothers die in childbirth!

Related Posts:
Disney What-Ifs: Jasmine’s Mother
Beauty and the Beast Gender Swap
Disney Without Magic: Beauty and the Beast
Disney What-Ifs: Aladdin’s Mother
Disney What-Ifs: Ariel’s Mother

Obligatory Copyright Notice: Beauty and the Beast, all of the character names and original images  belong to Disney. Rosalie is a creation by me and is a work of fan art. No copyright infringement is intended.

Beauty and the Beast Gender Swap

It’s time for another Disney gender swap! This time: Beauty and the Beast.  So, I’ve been planning this for a long time, but originally I had wanted to do a Beast/Belle swap, since I thought it would be interesting to see how the story changes with the Beast being a girl.  However, Photoshopping Belle into a beast? Way too much work.  So instead, here’s Belle and Gaston instead.

Belle and Gaston Gender Swap

In this version of the story, Belle is a huntress, beloved by all the town and thus has a really bloated ego.  She has her sights set on the most handsome man in town, the inventor’s son: Gaston, who looks a little something like this:

Gaston gender swap

I honestly can’t look at this picture without cracking up.  Note that his expression is in no way photoshopped.  That’s from an actual screengrab.

Anyway, Gaston dreams of leaving this poor, provincial town and finding adventure in the great, wide somewhere.  In addition to being seen by the town as an oddball with his nose constantly stuck in his books and his head up in the clouds, he is constantly being harassed by the boorish, brainless Belle.  In a very stalker-y move, she plans a wedding outside Gaston’s house and then proposes to her, winding up in the muddy pond for her troubles.  After Gaston’s father goes raving about a beast in the tavern while Belle is brooding there, Belle comes up with a plan to send his father to the asylum in order force him to marry her.

When Belle finds out that Gaston has fallen in love with a beastwoman in a forest castle, she gathers a mob and goes after her, setting her sights on killing the beast and mounting her head on her wall.  Gaston, who has been imprisoned in his own house, manages to escape and run to save the Beast just as Belle is attempting to kill her.  Belle ends up falling to her death from the castle’s turret and Gaston weeps, confessing his love to the dying beast, who changes back into a beautiful princess.

So, it’s always interesting to notice how our perceptions of a traditional Disney tale change with just the swapping of genders.  Belle as the huntress character is much more proactive, almost to a fault.  She stops at nothing to get her way.  For a man like Gaston, this is not an unusual portrayal in films, especially for villains, but showing the darker side of obsession from the female side is something that is far less common.  I do like the fact that she is badass with weapons, though, but I much less like the fact that she thinks books are dumb.  That is something that I think they really did well with Beauty & the Beast–Belle is one of the most intelligent, rational Disney heroines.  Sure, she ends up getting the guy in the end, but really she was just in it to save her father, a truly noble act.

If this were a Disney movie, I think a lot of people would think up some very unkind things to say about this version of Gaston–maybe that he’s weak, a nerd, a pansy, passive, whatever.  Maybe some people might even think he’s an idiot for not wanting to marry the most beautiful girl in town, who’s a master hunting and beloved by all to the point where they sing songs about her.  I am conflicted a bit about the message the Beast’s storyline sends.  At first, it’s a story about loving someone for who they are, no matter what they look like, but then in the end the Beast becomes beautiful so really it is all about looks after all.  Granted, that’s the same message in the original setup, but for some reason I feel like it’s a worse crime to give that message to young girls when the character it’s referring to actually is a girl.

Anyway, so there you have it! Whenever you’re having a bad day, just look at that dopey expression on Gaston’s face and you’ll feel instantly better.

Bonus: Before and after pictures!

(Click for full size)

Belle and Gaston Gender Swap - Before and After

Gaston gender swap - Before and After

Artist’s note: I kept a few muscles on Belle, just to follow with the “huntress” theme, but I slimmed her down to the size she actually is in the movie.  Her waistline isn’t half as egregiously tiny as most other Disney heroines (Sleeping Beauty and the 3D ones like Frozen and Tangled being the most criminal of these misrepresentations).  For Gaston, I did leave some of the muscles, but he’s about half the size he normally is.  I didn’t want him looking like the Hulk about to burst out of Bruce Banner’s clothes, but I wanted him to look distinct from Belle so that he wasn’t just Gaston’s head on top of her body.  Also note that Gaston is not wearing a dress; I turned the dress w/apron combo into a white shirt atop blue pants with a blue vest.  He is wearing a bow in his hair, though, but if you look at the film, he wears a bow in his wedding outfit, and a ponytail at all times.  (The bow actually is his wedding bow turned blue instead of the original yellow.)

Related Links:
Cinderella Gender Swap
Little Mermaid Gender Swap
Rapunzel Gender Swap
Sleeping Beauty Gender Swap
Disney Heroine Body Swap – Part One
Disney Heroine Body Swap – Part Two

Obligatory copyright notice: All characters, plots and original images are copyright Disney.  Original screencaps provided by disneyscreencaps.com.  The photoshopped images are mine and are works of fan art.  No copyright infringement is intended.

Happy Birthday to Me!!!

It’s my birthday!!! That’s why I didn’t do anything on the blog this weekend.  Here’s a quick photoshop job to make up for it!


(If you’re trying to figure out what clever swap I did, forget it.  It’s just the cake from Alice & Wonderland. 90% of the time I spent on this was trying to match the amount of blur in the two pictures, then gave up and just posted it.  Cuz it’s mah berfday!)

Disney Heroine Body Swap – Part One

Here’s a variation on a common post of mine.  Instead of gender-swapping characters from the same movie, I’m going to clothes swap characters from different movies.  But instead of swapping them by body type or any other physical characteristics, I decided to group them by personalities.  This method has the added benefit of adding another layer to this experiment.  You can imagine that the pairs are friends because they share similar histories, talents, personalities, whatever.  So that would mean that the two characters doing the clothes swapping can be thought of as friends, that they one day while hanging out together decided to try on each others’ clothes.  Here are the results.


The Sleepers:
Snow White & Aurora

Sleeping Beauty Body copy Snow White Body copy

Not only are Snow White and Aurora the two princesses who are famously cursed asleep, they both command the attentions and obedience of woodland animals and are in hiding from evil witches.


The Bookworms:
Belle & Jane

Belle in Jungle copy Jane in town copy

Both Jane from Tarzan and Belle from Beauty and the Beast share a love of books and learning, and have brown hair and equally iconic yellow dresses.  Besides, they both love a man who acts like a wild animal.


The Hard Workers:
Cinderella & Tiana

Cinderella with broom copy Tiana with broom copy

They’re daydreamers, but they work hard for what they want (and do an awful lot of dancing with brooms).  FYI, Tiana’s rocking Cinderella’s outfit but goldenrod is definitely not Cinderella’s color…


The Girl Explorers:
Alice & Wendy

Alice on ship copy Wendy in Wonderland copy

Alice and Wendy both travel to strange, new worlds with similar names (Wonderland and Neverland, respectively), but that’s n0t the only thing that’s similar about them.  In addition to being voiced by the same actress, they even look alike!

Look forward to more Disney heroine clothes swaps in the future!  For now, check out some of my other swaps:

Little Mermaid Gender Swap
Tangled Gender Swap
Sleeping Beauty Gender Swap

Obligatory copyright notice: The characters and images above are copyright of Disney.  The altered images are mine.

Disney Without Magic – Beauty and the Beast

Here’s the first of my hopefully continuing series of “Disney without Magic,” a take on the classic Disney stories that shows what happens when you take out one crucial element: Magic.  First off, Beauty and the Beast.

Untitled-5 copy

Everything starts out the same from Belle’s perspective.  Belle still lives in that small, provincial town where she is seen as a bit of an oddball with her head in the clouds. Let the singing commence.


Gaston is still infatuated with Belle, and (wisely) she still won’t marry him because he’s positively primeval.


On the way to take his invention to the fair, Maurice still gets lost in the woods (of course), and is still found by the castle residents and taken in from the rain and the cold for some nice tea by the fire.


Only this time, Maurice is not greeted by a candlestick and a clock, but by a portly head of household and his skinny compatriot. (There’s no magic, remember? So there’s no curse.  Everyone’s still human.) They argue about what to do about the visitor–Lumiere wants to be hospitable but Cogsworth is afraid of how the Master will react.


Now here comes the tricky part.  How does the Prince, as he will heretofore be known, react to Maurice’s presence?  He’s still an angry, selfish person.  But he’s not a beast.  The Beast throws Maurice into the dungeon, but only after the Beast catches Maurice staring at him, and he totally overreacts.  That’s not going to happen here.  So, we’ll go back to the original and see how an angry, selfish prince responds to intruders and panhandlers:


Yup.  That’s right.  The Prince turns Maurice away, shouting, “You’re not welcome here!” then throwing him out into the cold rain.  Let’s cut back to Belle. She gets a (*ahem*) generous proposal from Gaston, which she wisely refuses.


After which she has a soulful reprise of her earlier song, proclaiming to the world that she wants adventure in the great, wide somewhere (so much more than she can tell in just one short song).  That’s when Phillipe returns, riderless.


She goes out to find him, but since Maurice has already been kicked out of the castle by this point, she finds him somewhere in the woods.  No wolf attacks (we’ll get one, I promise), and she takes him home.  On the way, Maurice tells her about the castle and its reclusive occupant, to which Belle nods and smiles comfortingly, but makes nothing of.  They return to their ordinary lives.  Gaston still gets to sing about how great he is, followed by Maurice reporting to the townsfolk in the tavern about a mysterious castle in the woods, which no one seems to believe.  “Crazy old Maurice,” they say.  “He’s always good for a laugh.”

Untitled-20b copy

He starts thinking (a dangerous pastime, I know) that he needs to compel Belle to marry him somehow, and he can do it with Maurice as leverage.  He’ll lock Maurice up in the asylum until Belle agrees to marry him.  Cut to creepy asylum guy.


Gaston explains, “I’ve got my heart set on marrying Belle, but she needs a little persuasion.” With a little money added to the mix, the asylum head takes on the job.  They come for Maurice at night.  It’s easy to rile up the crowd against Maurice.  Sure, it’s not like he was raving about any snarling, monstrous beast (this time), but he does an awful lot of inventing, which involves a lot of explosions and (I’m sure) fires.  He’s a menace to public safety at the very least.


Belle watches in horror as they take her father away.  He tries to struggle, but he is old and fails at it, and his words fall upon deaf ears. Belle pleads with Gaston, who explains the situation.  He might be able to do something about it if she marries him.  “Never!” she cries.


[[[Can I just take a sidebar for a minute to say how devilishly brilliant Gaston was about this entire situation? Rewatch the movie, and you’ll notice that LeFou does all of the talking during Maurice’s capture and incarceration.  Gaston is distancing himself from the situation.  It’s not him who’s coming for Maurice; he’s just here to help his future wife out of a jam.  Because he loves her.  He doesn’t really do any talking until Belle fully gets involved, and he doesn’t really talk to the crowd at all until the mirror comes into play.  Instead, Gaston hangs back on the sidelines, just loving this whole thing. Look at this face and try and tell me he’s still the brainless boob everyone takes him for:


Sidebar over.]]]

Belle refuses Gaston’s help and decides to do things through proper channels.  She talks to the head of the asylum, but of course he’s in Gaston’s pocket.  She isn’t even allowed to see her father under Gaston’s orders.  In the meantime, she needs to get a job to support herself, since being the daughter of a failed inventor meant they didn’t have a lot of money or savings to begin with.  She gets a job helping out at the bookshop. It doesn’t pay much, since Belle was his best (and maybe only) customer, but it’s enough for her to get by for now.


Gaston can’t handle this.  His girl, working for a living.  Not only is she financially stable enough to avoid his advances, she is doing so much of that foolish thinking.  A new plan had to be made. The bookshop owner doesn’t cave in at first.  Not everyone is as fond of that boorish, brainless Gaston as the rest of the town. But even the staunchest of his opponents can’t hold firm with a hunting musket pointed in his face.


The bookman has no choice but to let Belle go, with a few parting books as a farewell gift.  Finding another job is a lot harder the next time.  Most of the townsfolk don’t want to work with Belle because she is so odd, her head in the clouds.  The few who might have hired her have made it clear that Gaston has made the same threat all over town, that hiring Belle is a sure way to bring a swift and unexpected end to their business.  The rest spend their time trying to convince her of what a good provider Gaston would be–an endless supply of meats for dinner and pelts for the winter–and that a beauty like her should never have to stoop to working a job. Belle finds that she has no choice but to marry Gaston.

However, Belle is smart, and she makes a condition upon their engagement: she wants her father released.  Gaston is likewise not to be fooled by her ploy, and refuses until after the wedding.  But they strike a deal: she can visit him (“And write to him,” she adds, wisely) until that time.  No more shutting her out.  Gaston agrees.  Belle goes to see her father to tell him her situation and to tell him the good news that he will be released soon.


She is horrified to find that he has become ill during the intervening days and weeks, and pleads with Belle not to marry Gaston (“Belle, I’m old.  I’ve lived my life”).  He wants her to be happy, not to be forced into this marriage because of him.  He reminds her about the castle he found, with such kind servants (and so many of them!).  Someone as rich as that could afford to hire her on, and what’s more, they couldn’t be intimidated by Gaston.   Belle is kind, intelligent and (probably more important with first impressions with a disagreeable prince) beautiful; they will probably have pity on her and give her a job.  Belle decides to give it a shot, venturing with Phillipe into the forest to the mysterious castle.


She is greeted by Lumiere and Cogsworth, who are surprised by yet another visitor (a new record!).  She tries to explain her situation to them, telling them how her father is being wrongfully held in an asylum by a man who is trying to force her to marry him, keeping her from being able to support herself with a job by threatening the entire town.  They are moved by her plight, but exchange wary glances.  The Master doesn’t like strangers (or anyone).  However, as they’re talking, the Prince hears them and comes downstairs to investigate the disturbance.

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He turns her away at once, just as he did her father.  She begs him, trying to explain as she did to Lumiere and Cogsworth, but he won’t listen, even after Cogsworth and Lumiere step in to help.  He refuses once more, then skulks away to the West Wing.  Belle is crushed.  It was her one hope and now it is dashed.  Lumiere, however, has pity on Belle, and decides to let her work there anyway.  “Won’t he be mad?” asks Belle.  “Ze Master rarely comes out of eez room,” Lumiere explains.  “Ee will not even notice you are eere.” Cogsworth, of course, has a fit. (“What if the Master finds out?”) Lumiere talks him down in the end.


This is probably the point in the movie where “Be Our Guest” would come in, some sort of big ensemble number to welcome Belle to the team.  There wouldn’t be dancing plates, but there would still be a giant chandelier, can-can dancing maids and fountains of champagne.

[[Sidebar: We know that Mrs. Potts and Chip both turned into porcelain things, and there are obviously dancing plates and cups, but they don’t have any facial features.  Are they just enchanted, or were they once servants, too? If they were once human, that’s an awful lot of servants for just one person (even more so than the servants we do meet).  Also, if they were human like the rest, what happened to the real plates? I mean, there must have been a normal teapot at some point, so why are they using Mrs. Potts for tea service? “No, let’s totally use the former human beings instead of the cabinet of china.  No one will notice the tea coming out of Mrs. Potts’ nose.”]]

Cut back to the village.  Gaston is furious that Belle’s disappeared, and he realizes that he was fooled by her.  She had asked to visit her father not simply to ensure his safety for the wedding, but to give a final farewell before she skipped town.  He assigns LeFou to watch the asylum, waiting for any sign of Belle’s return for her father or her trying to contact him in any way.

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Meanwhile, Belle works hard, making friends with the staff, drinking tea with Mrs. Potts, playing with Chip, and quite a bit of comic relief from the side characters Madame de la Grande Bouche. [[That’s the name given to the wardrobe in the stage version of Beauty and the Beast.  It aptly translates to Missus of the Big Mouth.  I’m using that name here because I can’t very well call her the Wardrobe since she’s still human.)  Belle discovers the library and spends all her free time there.  The staff warn her to stay out of the West Wing, because that’s where the Master stays and they don’t want her to be discovered.  Belle obeys at first, but she is curious about the mysterious master.  What made him like this? Why does no one come to visit? Why does he have such a grand castle and so many servants when he lives alone?

One night, when the Master is supposed to be at dinner, she sneaks into the West Wing to see this forbidden place.  She finds a bedroom, unkempt and dark.  None of the staff have apparently been allowed to clean it.  It is a reflection of the beast within; he cares for nothing, not even his own things.  Belle spies a portrait on the wall, one she recognizes at once.

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True, he looks a bit younger, a bit better groomed, but it is indeed the master of this castle.  On the bottom of the frame is an engraved brass sign that reads “Prince Adam.”  (Note: according to Disney historical records, this was actually his name). Not only is this man rich, he is a prince! But why is he alone? Shouldn’t a prince be with the rest of the royal family? Where are all the guards, the royal suitors and courtiers?

That’s when the Prince finds her.


The Prince has a royal (pardon the pun) hissy fit. “Get out!” he bellows. “You’re a prince,” she states, still more shocked by this revelation than by his rage.  “And you’re an intruder.  I threw you out days ago.  Why are you still here?”  She tries to explain her situation but he keeps cutting her off, yelling at her. “You don’t think I’ve had beggars at my door before?”

“I wasn’t looking for a handout,” Belle snaps back.  “I needed a job, and you threw me out without a second thought! What kind of prince is so selfish that–” At this, the prince nearly screams, “I’m not a prince!”  before he tries to rip the painting from its frame in a towering rage with his bare fingers.


[[Sidebar: Notice the change in the frame.  Yes, I did photoshop a bit in the first picture, but the frame in the untorn painting from the prologue is square and the torn one is rounded.  So, maybe he felt bad about tearing it and reframed it? Yeah, I got nothing.]]

Belle is so terrified that she goes running.  She blows by some of the servants on the stairs, who call after her.  “Job or no job, I can’t stay here another minute!” Lumiere and Cogsworth try to mollify the situation and talk some sense into the Prince, but Belle leaves.  (Enter the wolves.  I promised you they were still coming).


This part progresses pretty much like the movie.  The wolves attack Belle, the Prince tries and saves her.  As a beast, he used his claws to fight them off; the Prince was only running after her to stop her (no doubt guilted into it by Lumiere), so he is almost certainly unarmed.  This does not bode well for him.  He gets injured, just as he should, and when he passes out, Belle saves him and takes him back to the castle.

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“That hurts!”
“If you hold still, it wouldn’t hurt as much!”
“Well, if you hadn’t run away, then this wouldn’t have happened.”
“If you hadn’t frightened me, I wouldn’t have run away!”
He thinks about it for a moment.  “Well, you shouldn’t have been in the West Wing.”
“Well, you should learn to control your temper.”

In the end, the Prince gives Belle a job, but most of the time he just stews in his room.  He starts getting curious about her, venturing out of his room to see her, watching her in the library, etc.  The prince realizes his new feelings and confesses it to Lumiere and Cogsworth, “I’ve never felt this way about anyone before.” He gives her the library as a present.  (Because that’s what princes do, right?)


Cue “Something There.”


Belle starts to realize that something new (and a bit alarming) is happening.  Then she remembers why she is here–it’s for her father.


She misses him, and wants to know if he’s safe.  There’s no magic mirror this time, and she is employed, not a prisoner in this version, so she doesn’t have to hide her presence here anymore.  She decides to write to her father.  After all, her deal with Gaston is still valid, right?

Meanwhile, the Prince invites her to a formal dinner, followed by dancing.  (Neither of which he is any good at, owing to his years of solitude).  [[Here’s where “Beauty and the Beast” would go.  It’s still an appropriate song, considering that we’re using the “beast” as a metaphor for the Prince’s selfishness and temper, but maybe it gets tweaked a little from the original.]]

That night on the balcony, he confesses to Belle the truth about his past, explaining why he acts the way he does.

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As a child, he thought that being a prince meant that he could do whatever he wanted and that he never had to do anything he didn’t want to.  He skipped out on lessons, was rude to people (even allies and foreign diplomats), avoided all formal responsibilities, etc.  When he was told he would have to marry a princess, an arranged marriage, he also refused (rather bluntly) and nearly caused a war over it.  His parents, as punishment, banished him to this castle with the strict orders that he have no further contact with the life he knew until he decided to grow up and be less selfish.  “You are no longer our son,” they said.  At first, he was happy.  He had everything he wanted or needed, and no one to tell him what to do.  Over the years, the prince realized what he had truly lost, but he grew more and more angry knowing that to return to his old life, he would lose his freedom once more, and he began to believe there was no hope for him at all.

The Prince then asks Belle if she thinks he should go back to his parents, apologize and marry the princess, if only to appease his family.  Maybe he could learn to be happy with her.  (Really, he is asking this to see if Belle has any feelings for him in return.  If she says yes, then he knows there is no hope for them.  If no, then maybe…)

Instead, Belle tears up, thinking of her father.  Maybe she was being selfish, too, that she should just marry Gaston.  He obviously loves her, or at least is so enamored with her that he’s put this much effort into marrying her, so maybe he really would make her happy.  Maybe she should marry him, if only to save her father.  It’s what she was planning on doing in the first place.  Now, she’s basically just hiding from her problems here, rather than facing them.

As she is about to tell the prince about her similar situation, there comes a knock at the door.  It is Gaston (and a bunch of his goons on standby in case of trouble).  He tracked her down by following the messenger that had been delivering Belle’s letters to Maurice.  He sees Belle in her ballgown and the prince in his fine clothes and is furious.  The prince demands to know who this stranger is and why he has come here.  “I’ve come for Belle,” explains Gaston.  “Belle is in my employ and under my protection,” the Prince counters.  “She is not going anywhere unless I say so.” Gaston scoffs.  “We’ll see…” He turns to Belle, turning on the charm.

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“Belle…darling… You should come home.  Your father’s been asking for you.” This gets Belle’s attention.  “He’s gravely ill, and the doctor says he doesn’t have much time left.” At this, Belle realizes that this is a veiled threat.  Her father may indeed be sick (he was when she left), but Gaston is really sending a message.  Gaston is no doubt withholding Maurice’s medicine, possibly even food, to convince her to come home. Then Belle realizes: she didn’t have a way to help her father before, but now she does.  With this new change that’s come over the Prince, he is sure to be willing to help release her father from the asylum, get him food, medicine, a warm place to stay, and she wouldn’t have to marry Gaston.   All of that goes up in a cloud of smoke with just a few choice words.  “Before I set out to find you, Belle, your father told me his final wish was to see his only daughter married.” With this, Gaston turns to the Prince with a triumphant smile.

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“Or didn’t Belle tell you that she was already engaged…to me?” The Prince is crushed and he feels betrayed.  “You’re engaged?” he asks Belle.  “Adam, please… You need to understand–” He won’t have any excuses, his impatience and temper rising.  “Tell me: Are–you–engaged?”  Belle is frantic.  She did promise Gaston, even though she had broken that promise to come work here.  She is nothing if not truthful, and tries to say, “Yes, but–” The Prince turns his back to her.  “Then go.  Your employment is ended.” He leaves without looking back.  As he goes, Belle pleads with him as Gaston takes her (forcefully) away.

Chip is the only one brave enough (or foolish enough) to try to stop him, but Gaston just knocks the boy to the ground.  Meanwhile, the servants try to talk some sense into the prince.  Of course, it is Lumiere who is the expert on matters of love and who sheds some light (get it?) on the subject. “Can’t you see she didn’t want to go?” The Prince is still heartbroken, but covers his feelings beneath his rage. “She is engaged.” Lumiere: “And zo were you.” This stings, but the Prince gets the point.

It is Mrs. Potts who finally explains Belle’s situation, the one she tried to tell him from the very beginning but he was so self-absorbed that he never listened or cared.  She tells him that everything Belle did was for her father, to avoid marrying Gaston, that she had to run away and leave her father behind just to survive.  All she needed was for him (the prince) to think of someone besides himself for once and all of this could have been avoided.  The prince resolves to help Belle, to go after her and stop Gaston.

Cogsworth dons his military hat, announcing, “We need a plan.”

The Prince does not arrive in town until the next morning.  The wedding is already in progress.


The Prince interrupts the wedding, demanding that Belle be released.  Gaston just laughs and refuses.  Instead, the Prince approaches the altar, making his proclamation to Belle alone, telling her that he paid off the head of the asylum the night before (he’ll do anything if you throw enough gold at him) to free Maurice.  Even now, her father is now safe in the castle, being tended to by a doctor.  “You don’t have to marry Gaston anymore, Belle,” the Prince continues.  However, Belle doesn’t respond. She hasn’t even turned around to face him.  He closes the distance between them, lifts the veil and finds LeFou in a wedding dress (standing on top of a stool, of course).  He jumps out at the Prince, tackling him with a net.  At this signal, a bunch of Gaston’s goons rise from their seats (on the groom’s side, naturally) and restrain the Prince, binding his arms and hands with ropes until he is utterly at their mercy.

“Belle will marry me,” Gaston announces.  “You see, I had LeFou stationed at the asylum last night and he told me all about your little escape plan.  I knew your next step would be something as foolhardy as interrupting my wedding, so I made a few additions to the guest list.” The Prince hangs his head in shame; he should have been less overconfident and been more prepared.  Now, he has failed Belle.  Gaston laughs coldly, seeing the despair on his rival’s face.  “Were you in love with her? Did you honestly think she’d want you when she had someone like me?”

Gaston strides over to where the Prince is being held down to lord his victory over him.  “I want to thank you in advance for the wedding gift.  Belle will simply love the new castle.  But, then again, you won’t be needing it anymore in your new home.”   He kneels down beside him, whispering, “There’s a free cell in the asylum that just opened up last night.” With that, Gaston kicks a boot into the prince’s side, causing him to double over in pain.  Gaston laughs maniacally.

The wedding begins.  Belle is brought out, having been kept under lock and key in her own home until this point.  She sees the Prince bound and restrained and she rushes toward him.  “Adam!” Gaston stops her, restraining her.  She is furious.  First her father–now this? “Gaston, let him go!”

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“I’ll let him go after we’re married,” Gaston promises, but the Prince knows this to be a lie.  “Belle, don’t listen to him!” he shouts.  The goons silence him at once, gagging him.

“Please, Gaston,” she begs, becoming tearful.  “Please.”

“You actually have feelings for this pathetic excuse for a prince? The man who let you be taken away without even a fight? That’s no man; that’s a monster!”  Belle is furious now.  “He’s not the monster, Gaston.  You are!” She breaks free of his grip.  Gaston doesn’t try to get her back, but goes straight for the Prince, taking an axe from one of his goons and lifting it high over his head as if to swing it down upon the Prince’s neck.

Belle rushes forward.  “No, please!” Gaston stops, a self-satisfied smirk forming as he realizes he has won at last.  “I’ll marry you, Gaston, if you promise you’ll spare his life.”  Gaston: “I knew you could be reasonable…”

Ping! The axe flies from Gaston’s hand.  A horde of castle servants, led by Lumiere, Cogsworth and Mrs. Potts, has entered the wedding area, armed with a variety of slapdash weapons.  A zany fight ensues like in the original movie, with butts getting scissored, people chased with cleavers, others getting hit in the head by teacups, etc. Remember this guy?

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This time, he ends up wearing the wedding cake like a dress.

The gang manages to free the Prince, but during the fracas, Gaston gets a hold of Belle.  “It’s over!” shouts Gaston, victorious.  “Belle is mine!”

“How about an exchange?” the prince offers, holding up a struggling LeFou by the collar.  “Belle for…this guy.” LeFou glares at him.

Gaston howls in laughter at this.  “LeFou? He’s just a short, weaseling little brown-noser anyway.  Any one of these oafs could easily take his place.”  At this, LeFou is offended that Gaston would so easily discard him, as are Gaston’s few remaining goons.

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The goons, infuriated by Gaston’s attitude toward them, begin to turn on him with LeFou leading the charge with an angry kick to Gaston’s shin.  In the meantime, Belle escapes into the Prince’s waiting arms as the villagers come with pitchforks and clubs to join the fray.  They come not to Gaston’s aid, however, but fight against him.  These are the people he blackmailed and threatened all in the efforts to win Belle’s hand.  The times are changing.  Gaston’s no longer everyone’s favorite guy, and they’re no longer awed and inspired by him, but ready for payback.

Belle, the Prince and the castle folk all make a hasty exit.  “Wait,” Belle says, suddenly.  “What about my father?”  “He’s safe,” assures the Prince, and he explains everything.  Back at the castle, Belle is reunited with her father.  The prince offers to finance all of his inventions and give them anything they need, even a new place to live.  For the first time, he is actually more concerned with someone else’s happiness than his own.  “And what if I want to live here?” asks Belle.  The prince smiles.  “Then you can stay here for as long as you’d like.”

“How about forever?” They kiss.

Cue ballroom scene and “Beauty and the Beast” reprise.


Roll credits.

I’m a fan of ‘what-ifs’, so to this what-if story, I had to ask myself, “What now?” What happens to Belle and Prince Adam? I wrote a backstory for him to explain why this prince was all alone even before he would be cursed into a beast (something I’ve always wondered).  There had to be a reason, and that would have to be that he was selfish.  For a prince, that’s just not going to be tolerated.  But, now that Belle and her prince are living happily ever after and the prince is no longer spoiled and selfish, would he ever see his family again? Would it be Belle who prodded her husband into making amends with his family? Would his change in attitude excuse his choice of his new wife? Would they welcome Belle into their family, or shun her for being so provincial? Would they be happy to see their son married and content, or still be fuming about his botched arranged marriage? Or would Belle and Adam start a new life together, content to live in their castle in the woods, or would they start a new adventure in the great, wide somewhere?  I leave those questions to you. 

Stay tuned for future installments of Disney without Magic!

After the credits (and the obligatory Disney logo), there’s a rousing chorus of “My What A Guy, LeFou” in honor of the man who freed the town from the now-hated Gaston.


I’m not sure what the villagers did to Gaston; no falling off a tower for him this time.  Maybe they forced him out of town.  Maybe LeFou punches Gaston for saying stupid things now, or made Gaston into his errand boy, or throws chairs on top of him for a change.  One thing’s for sure, a Disney movie’s probably not going to show any fate that is too gruesome, though there is a lot more space for mounting heads on the wall of the hunting lodge… I’ll leave that up to your imaginations.


Update: Photoshopped pictures are a little more consistent between elements.  It’s been bugging me for a while, but starting with low-res pics means crap results.  Whatever.