Belle en het Beest, that’s how we call Beauty & the Beast in Dutch. It has been my favourite Disney film since the first time I saw it – with the Aristocats as a solid second. There was the beautiful Belle of course, but she wasn’t just a pretty face, she loved reading too – just like I did when I was a kid (still do by the way). And then there was the French setting of the story; this small village full of people speaking with French accents, the baker wobbling around with a basket full of baguettes, and I’ll never forget the film’s opening song ‘Belle’ full of Bonjours. Apparently I had a big soft spot for everything French even when I was a six year old. Or maybe I have to give Beauty & the Beast a lot of credit for me ending up with such a strong affinity for France.
When I was a teenager I got a cd full of Disney songs from my boyfriend at the time; he’d even made sure the Beauty & the Beast ones were in French. That summer we listened to it pretty much non stop while we drove to our French holiday destination – I have to say I admire his patience… A few years later, Beauty & the Beast became the first musical I saw in the Netherlands and when I lived in Paris I saw it there as well. I don’t think I need to tell you what a happy kid I was seeing my Beauty & the Beast in French and in my favourite city!
So first there was the animated film, then the musical and now there is the ‘real’ film with Emma Watson and Dan Stevens. So far, every period of my life has had a touch of Beauty & the Beast to it and I hope it will stay like that. There’s something about Disney and the films they make that is timeless. The stories, the characters in them, and of course the music are not just good, they appeal to people of all ages. To me, that is the ultimate version of storytelling and the true magic of Disney.
Beauty & the Beast the film is in (UK) theaters now.