“A tale as old as time…”. Well, not really. But it is almost as old as Moses! The origins of “The Beauty and the Beast” folktale date back an estimated 4,000 years. Certainly, it has gone through many incarnations during that time. The one that dominates our time is the Disney version, of course. And now that there has been a magnificent live version created as well, the familiar look of Belle and her monstrous yet kind-hearted love could stick with us for many generations to come.
My daughter finally got me out to see the new “Beauty and the Beast”, starring Emma Watson, just a couple of nights ago. I remember seeing a black and white live action version of the story when I was a kid. It was all in French, with subtitles of course. But I was so taken by the story and the visuals. It is easy to see how it has survived for so many hundreds of thousands of years across so many cultures. It’s a killer story! And can be so accessible for so many people.
It also lends itself to a multitude of visual depictions. I decided to check out the Interwebs for renderings of Beauty and the Beast that were NOT the Disney version. Mostly because I wanted to see the various ways artists have displayed the story via their own imagination. The story creates a great incongruity for the artist to play around with: a beautiful young woman and a large and freaky beast-man (sounds like my wedding photos).
I have included a number of images taken off of my Google search. Some are profound and beautiful, some are silly, some look more like the story’s main spin-off (i.e., “King Kong”) and at least one is not for children (!) but they all are instantly recognizable as the timeless tale of Beauty and the Beast.