Love it or hate it, Beauty and the Beast is one of the most iconic Disney movies of all time. Based on a French story from the 18th century, the tale is not quite as old as time but it is pretty old. The Disney adaptation of the classic tale came along in 1991.
I, like many, have fond memories of watching the VHS version of the movie over and over again as a kid. When I was younger, I was entertained by the love story and, of course, the catchy music. Re-watching it as an adult, however, I realized that there are a lot of things that I overlooked when first watching Beauty and the Beast decades ago.
Lefou totally has a thing for Gaston
When you watch Beauty and the Beast as a kid, the major love story is between Belle and the Beast. As an adult, however you can appreciate the side eye that Lefou is constantly throwing Gaston’s way. Lefou singing about Gaston’s charms is more than a faithful sidekick trying to boost his friend’s morale. The song is clearly an ode to all of that unresolved tension that has built up over years of friendship.
The 2017 live action remake of Beauty and the Beast, which stylized the character’s name as LeFou addressed the feelings he has for Gaston by including what director Bill Condon called an “exclusively gay moment” in the film. “LeFou is somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston,” Condon told Attitude. “He’s confused about what he wants. It’s somebody who’s just realising that he has these feelings. And Josh [Gad] makes something really subtle and delicious out of it.”
The Beast was cursed as a child
According to the opening of the film, the Beast is being punished for his selfishness. He has until his 21st year to reform his ways or be stuck in his beastly form forever. Later on, Lumiere reveals that no one has visited the castle for a decade. The Beast’s 21st year is fast approaching which leaves us to conclude that he couldn’t have been more than 10 years old when he was cursed.
This seems like a pretty harsh punishment to lay onto a kid, let alone everyone else living in the castle. Wouldn’t grounding him or making him write “I will not be selfish” 50 times have been a better way to teach the young Beast about generosity?
There’s a bald eagle on the wall of the tavern
If you look closely at the wall behind Gaston in the tavern during “Gaston,” there’s a bald eagle head on the wall along with other severed heads from animals, presumably examples of Gaston’s hunting prowess.
There’s just one problem with Gaston’s trophy collection. Bald eagles are indigenous to North America, so unless Gaston sailed for months across the ocean, killed the eagle, and then sailed back to Europe, it seems pretty unlikely that this would have been one of his hunting trophies.
The name Lefou isn’t actually a name, it’s an insult
The name Lefou certainly sounds French to the untrained ear. When I was a kid, I totally thought that it was a real French name, just like Gaston or Maurice. My French still isn’t great, but I do know enough now to recognize that the name Lefou actually translates to “mad” or “crazy” and is not a name that someone would give to their child. Every time someone calls Lefou’s nickname out, they’re making fun of him. The live action adaptation even stylizes his name as “LeFou” to point out this meaning.
Considering just how poorly Gaston treats his sidekick, it’s probable that he’s the one who saddled his loyal friend with this moniker. As if we didn’t need another reason to hate the guy.
The villagers are somehow not afraid of Belle’s magic mirror
Even in the 21st century, people would be a little freaked out by a glowing mirror that basically lets you spy on anyone you want. Back in the 18th century, however, an object like that could get you killed. People back then were more than a little superstitious, especially in small villages like the one Belle lived in. Witch hunts still took place throughout Europe, yet the people in the village don’t react to Belle’s magic mirror at all.
It’s clearly not because they’re a laid-back group of people, either. Look how eager they are to storm the castle and kill the Beast. It seems pretty unlikely that they wouldn’t also turn on Belle and try to kill her, too.
Belle would have needed parental consent to marry
We know that Gaston is delusional, but his cluelessness goes way beyond planning a wedding to a girl he hasn’t even proposed to. Even if Belle were to have agreed to marry Gaston, she would have needed parental consent. Before the French Revolution, the age of majority for women was 25. Women under 25 needed their parents’ permission to tie the knot, and arranged marriage was still common.
Considering that Maurice wasn’t even around on the day the wedding was to take place and the fact that he doesn’t seem like the kind of guy to marry off his beloved daughter to someone she hates, there’s no way this marriage could have happened even if Belle had said yes.
It’s impossible to tell what time of year it is
What is going on with the seasons in this movie? In the beginning of the film we see someone pushing around a cart of pumpkins which seems to indicate that it’s fall. A few minutes later, Belle appears in a field of dandelions which makes it look more like spring or summer, although the fall setting is still plausible. Everyone is wearing light clothing and no coats, so it’s safe to assume the weather is fairly warm. Yet just a couple scenes later, we see that it is snowing. No one comments on the sudden snowstorm and everyone acts like such abrupt dips in temperature are normal.
Chip doesn’t age
We’ve already established that the curse has been going on for at least a decade, yet Chip seems much, much younger than this. He still follows Mrs. Potts around and still needs to be tucked into bed (well, cupboard).When everyone is transformed back into their human shapes, Chip is carried by Mrs. Potts and looks to be around five or six years old. Mrs. Potts, on the other hand, has white hair and looks old enough to be his grandmother.
Was Chip somehow the product of a liaison between dishes and born while the castle was under the curse? Or was he cursed as an infant and aged normally but is short for his age? This still doesn’t explain how Mrs. Potts has a child who is so much younger than her. We could argue that maybe no one aged under the curse, but the whole point of the Beast needing to fall in love is that his 21st birthday is fast approaching.
Disney, you have some explaining to do.
The accents of the characters are wildly inconsistent
Considering that the film takes place in France, it would be logical to assume that everyone would sound like Lumiere, but this isn’t the case. Most of the characters speak with American accents, including Belle and the Beast. Mrs. Potts, however, is voiced by Angela Lansbury who retained her British accent for the role. It seems pretty unlikely that a bunch of American expats would be living in 18th century France, and completely impossible that one of them would be a prince.
The literacy rate in 18th century France wasn’t great
It’s well established that Belle’s village is a boring one that she dreams of escaping. This is not a big city where people are well-educated and worldly. Everyone thinks Belle is odd because of her love of books. Considering all of these things, it seems like a pretty poor idea to set up a bookstore in this town.
The bookstore clearly isn’t doing too well. When Belle visits, there are no other patrons in the shop. Combine this with the fact that most people in such a small village in 18th century would have been illiterate, and you have to wonder what the book seller was thinking when he opened his shop. Even the Beast who, as a member of the privileged class, would have had better access to education than most, is shown to have trouble reading and has to sound out words.
The Beast seems to have no governmental responsibility
As a prince, you’d think that the Beast would have some responsibilities. Even if he were a lesser prince and not in line for the throne you’d think he’d be needed at some state functions. Have the other royals noticed he was missing for the last decade? Did they learn of the curse and disown him? Who is running things in this country?
There is also the question of who has been paying for the upkeep of this castle. The servants are also still waiting on the Beast so someone has to be paying them, right? Or is involuntary slavery part of their curse? It’s true that 18th century France was noted for its corrupt government and the wasteful spending of the ruling class, so it’s possible that the Beast was given unlimited funds in exchange for remaining secluded. It’s no wonder that by the end of the century, the people would revolt and overthrow the monarchy.
The Bridal Chorus wasn’t written until the next century
At the ill-fated surprise wedding Gaston plans for Belle, a small group of musicians plays Richard Wagner’s “Bridal Chorus” from the opera Longherin. While the song is a staple at weddings today, it hadn’t yet been composed at the time Beauty and the Beast takes place. Longherin was not written until 1848, roughly a century after the wedding between Gaston and Belle never happened.
A tale as old as time
Plot holes and historical anachronisms aside, Beauty and the Beast is still one of my favorite movies. It’s easy to forget all the discrepancies in the film and just get caught up in the movie magic. There’s a reason that it’s still so popular, even decades after the release. The 2017 live action adaptation of the film has also won over fans, proving that this is one of the most magical tales of all time.