Like most typical American kids, I grew up with Disney movies in my DVD collection. Some films are great, some were great, and some are just trash.
Beauty and the Beast (B&B) is great. I’m sure you already know that if you’ve seen it. But here are some details you may not have noticed:
——1) The prologue is narrated in stained-windows… stained-windows… reminds you of what? What kind of buildings have stained-windows? For what building was stained-glass invented for? If you said castles or palaces, then you’re partially correct. The answer: Christian Castles/Palaces — aka: churches.
——2) The Rose is the main motif in the movie, especially a rose that seems to countdown. If that doesn’t hint at the ROSARY (which is a bouquet of prayers we offer to Our Lord’s Blessed Mother), then I don’t know what does!
——3) Speaking of the Blessed Mother, what colors do Belle wear? Did you know that light blue and white are Marian colors? Notice that the majority of traditionally colored Mary statues and icons show her to be wearing blue and white.
——4) Shortly after we meet Belle, she stops where and sings to what? She stops at a fountain, and she tells a story in song to a little lamb. A fountain is like a well, and in Sacred Scripture, it’s typically the place a man and woman have a significant meeting (recall Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Rachel, Moses and Zipporah, Jesus and the Samaritan Woman). Well, in B&B, we see Belle singing to the lamb: “She doesn’t discover that it’s HIM till chaper 3…”
This is significant because Jesus had to be revealed to the Samaritan Woman, had to be discovered. And three is a convenient number that not only rhymes, but symbolizes the third day after Jesus’ death — when His Resurrection is discovered by Mary Magdalene. Also, Jesus is the prince in disguise!
And what does a lamb symbolize in Christianity? “Agnus Dei…” which means “Lamb of God…” which means Jesus.
And Belle is Mary, and Mary is the God-bearer, and God is love… so Belle carries love.
Betcha never connected that “Mary had a little lamb… little lamb… little lamb. Mary had a little lamb whose wool was white as snow” is talking about the Blessed Mother who has a Son who is innocent and pure.
And in B&B, everyone thinks Belle is such a strange, funny girl, such an odd girl unaware of her own beauty. Well, Mary is odd too! She was immaculately conceived, and no one else was. She would obviously have been singled out as exceptional and strange and completely oblivious to how beautiful she is (because of her humility). Oh, oh, oh! You don’t know you’re beautiful! Oh, oh, oh! That’s what makes you beautiful!
——5) What about what causes the prince in B&B to be cursed? Wouldn’t that be the sin of pride? Being spoiled, selfish, unkind… and pride causes us to be isolated to the point that we curse ourselves. Pride was the Original Sin, and it caused us to be disfigured, naked, ashamed, lonely and doomed to die. And so after the prince commits this sin, he becomes a beast: ugly, naked, ashamed, lonely, and doomed to die.
——6) Our sin never affects us in isolation. Sin is like contagion: it spreads. And so Adam and Eve’s sin caused all of us and the rest of Creation to crash and burn. In B&B, the curse spreads throughout the castle, infects the servants, the forest, the world around the property. Sin is never personal; it affects everyone eventually.
——7) And only what can redeem Beast and his servants? Only if he truly loves and is truly loved in return, right? And doesn’t Belle bear that love? She’s the one to break the spell… she must give her love to him, must give her word to him. Notice later in the film that it’s only when Belle says she loves him is the curse busted. This is so symbolic of Mary’s fiat to the Archangel Gabriel, when she said “let it be…”
——8) At the ball, notice the colors of Belle’s gown: yellow and white. Those are the colors of Mother Church, the Bride of Christ, the redeemed. The colors of the Vatican flag hint at this.
——9) When Gaston (whatta jerk…) attacks Beast, where does he stab him? In the side! The right side! Take a look at any crucifix and you’ll see that’s exactly where Jesus was pierced (John 19:34).
——10) Then, when Beast dies in Belle’s arms… it looks a lot like the Pieta.
——11) And earlier when Beast released Belle after the ball, he in effect accepted sin (the curse) and death. Recall Beast’s response when his servants warn him of the mob’s approach: “It doesn’t matter, just let them come.” This is a bit similar to when Jesus accepted our sin (though he was sinless) and accepted His impending death, even death on a cross.
——12) But true love breaks the spell (remember that God is love). After Mary gives her fiat, God is allowed to intervene (allowed to love) at the ground level of our humanity to redeem us through the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus. And in B&B, after Belle’s fiat, we see Beast rise from the dead in glorious light. His body shines forth as a glorified body. This is totally an allegory in the movie for the Resurrection of Christ!
——13) And Beast’s salvation also saves the whole castle (transforms all the gargoyle’s too!), all his servants and the world around him.
——Bonus) Beast can be seen as a Christ figure, in that Jesus is also known as the Lion of Judah, an idea that C.S. Lewis used when writing the character Aslan in his Chronicles of Narnia.
So there you have it, 13 or so details I noticed one day while re-watching this classic.
——BONUS) Found out recently via a comment below that the Prince’s name is actually Adam (thanks Anh-Thu!)! This further adds to Biblical symbolism, since the New Adam (Jesus) and the New Eve (Mary) in a perfect way undo the sin of the first Adam and Eve. We see this played out in Beauty and the Beast because Adam (the Prince) becomes a new man at the end (a new Adam), undoing the past sin (most importantly with the love and help of Belle [who can be seen as a type of Mary, a new Eve.]).
——BONUS 2) Here, we see an even deeper connection with points 5 and 6 above. Now that we know the Beast symbolizes Adam, we also can see how similar their reaction to sin is. After the Original Adam sinned, he felt great shame, thought himself ugly and hid himself. So too does the Beast do this!
——BONUS 3) That’s right, it gets better! According to the film’s plot summary, the beggar visits the Prince on CHRISTMAS EVE. Now, this definitely makes me recall that on the First Christmas Eve, Mary and Joseph [and the unborn Jesus] were beggars trying to find a place to stay. The people they asked turned them away, not knowing the beauty of the Holy Family and that someone very powerful, special and beautiful was hidden within the Holy Couple: Jesus.
——See here for the review over the 2017 remake