As payback for judging by appearances, a handsome prince is transformed into a hideous beast, and will stay that way forever unless someone falls in love with him. Fortunately, the kind-hearted Belle (who he imprisoned) fits the bill.
Fine, fine, it’s a fairytale, but with the live action remake released in UK cinemas this week, you do kind of have to wonder why these stories still have so much appeal?
Most Disney films have a moral message of some sort or another, but from our obsession with the way we look to the dangers of 'mob mentality', there’s a lot that's recognizable about our world and our economies in Beauty and The Beast.
Appearance isn’t everything
Beauty and The Beast is all about recognizing the beauty inside, and not making judgements based on appearances. If the Beast had never judged the enchantress, we wouldn’t be in this mess in the first place. Then, Belle has to realize she loves the Beast (sorry, spoiler) – a process that would probably have been much quicker if he was still a handsome prince.
Belle is brave, intelligent and independent. Oh, and she loves to read. Reading's been linked to increased intelligence, higher levels of self-esteem, and apparently it probably makes you nicer: it's been argued that fiction improves the way you interact with other people – known as your emotional intelligence – because it focuses your mind on characters and their relationships.
But most of all, reading makes Belle happy and maybe that’s the most important thing of all – there's a whole group of economists who think that our
should be thought of as more important than our money and wealth.
No one life is worth more
When Belle chooses to take her father’s place as the Beast’s prisoner, ‘crazy old Maurice’ isn’t happy - he argues that he’s lived his life, but she has years ahead of her, so he should stay instead. Belle doesn’t listen.
Again, saving your father by volunteering to be imprisoned by a mythical beast is an unlikely scenario, but the dilemma of whose life is ‘worth more’, is seen in healthcare systems everywhere.
Basically, there’s a group of people (like Belle’s dad) who think that younger people should be favoured over older people so everyone gets a chance for a decent length of life – it's called the ‘fair innings’ argument. On the other side are people who think everyone should be treated equally, regardless of age – this is the rule used by the National Health Service in the UK for example.
Letting skills go to waste gets you down
All the staff at the castle have been turned into appliances. Sure, they know how to put on a show but there’s not that much for them to do anymore.
Lumière, the hospitable candelabra, misses
and dreams of the good old days when his skills were being ‘put to to test’.
The movie's token villain, Gaston, decides it’s time to kill the Beast because the creature won the heart of Belle, who Gaston wanted to marry. He can’t attack the castle alone, but fortunately he’s surrounded by an angry mob (why are there so many angry mobs in Disney?)
The act of going along with the crowd is known as 'herd behavior' and it’s seen pretty much everywhere, but has been a big problem in the
– when people decide which business they want to buy a share of (or invest in) they often go by what other investors are doing with stocks. This makes the share of that company more valuable, which drives up prices, which brings in more investors, and before you know it, there’s a hugely inflated price that nobody really understands. Unfortunately, much like Gaston does, these prices usually come crashing down dramatically at some point.