The original screenplays of Beauty and the Beast were three preliminary scripts written before the final version of Beauty and the Beast was made.
In early 1988, while he was working on the screenplay for The Rescuers Down Under, Jim Cox was given a list of future animated films that the Disney company wanted to make. One of these was an adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, which Cox immediately stated he wanted to do. After he had written his initial treatment, he submitted it to Michael Eisner and all the other Disney executives for approval. Upon reading the script, Eisner had some of the studio's artists, one of which was Mel Shaw, do some initial sketches, which were then put together to create a presentation reel which was later included on the Platinum and Diamond Edition DVD releases of the final film.
At this point, Jim Cox had left for his home in Mexico to see his wife. So, Michael Eisner phoned him up, congratulated him and asked him to expand his treatment into a full-fledged screenplay. However, when the screenplay reached Jeffrey Katzenberg, while he said that Cox had done well with it, he decided that his direction was not what the studio was looking for.
After Cox's draft was silently rejected, Disney then turned to Gen LeRoy to write a draft for the film. Not much is known about this screenplay. However, the little that was known about it was that the screenplay written by LeRoy was significantly more complex than Cox's screenplay, as it featured multiple wizards, body-swaps, as well as an evil prince as a villain. According to Charles Solomon, there was also going to be a sequence where the main villain, who apparently was also a magician, transforms various vultures and sharks into his human henchmen.
In late 1989, when The Little Mermaid was nearly complete, the Disney company approached Richard Williams, animation director of Who Framed Roger Rabbit and asked him to write a screenplay for Beauty and the Beast. However, Williams wanted to continue working on his lifelong project The Thief and the Cobbler, but suggested his colleague Richard Purdum. A team of animators which included Andreas Deja, Mel Shaw, Glen Keane, Don Hahn, Tom Sito, Jean Gilmore, and Hans Bacher traveled to Purdum's studio in London and spent the next several months putting together a screenplay, the story reels for which were included on the Diamond and Platinum edition DVD releases of the final film. However, Jeffrey Katzenberg ordered it scrapped, partially because he deemed the screenplay "too dark and too dramatic," and thought it did not feel like a Disney movie, partially because it had far too many similarities to Cinderella (in particular, the aunt seemed too similar to Lady Tremaine) and partially because he wanted a "feminist twist" to the story due to the reception to Ariel by critics as being "cloyingly sexist." This prompted Purdum to resign as director.
In this screenplay, Maurice was a poor inventor living in a cottage with his three daughters: Belle and her two older sisters. The latter two were extremely jealous of their sister because she was constantly being hit on by three wealthy suitors who seemed to have no interest in them. Realizing that his family was in desperate need of some money, Maurice left the house with one of his inventions, hoping to find someone that he could sell it to. However, he ended up getting lost in a storm and wound up at the Beast's castle. Back at the cottage, one of Belle's suitors presented her with a gift: a magnificent white horse.
Meanwhile, Maurice ended up being discovered by the Beast who told him that he would have to pay for his intrusion with his life, but upon learning that the man had three daughters, the Beast told him that if one of them agreed to come and stay at the castle, he would be allowed to live. However, Maurice would not allow that to happen and agreed to die, but requested that he be allowed to return home for one night in order to bid his daughters farewell.
The Beast agreed to let him do this and Maurice quickly went home and told his daughters of his fate. While his elder daughters merely accepted the fact that their father was doomed, Belle volunteered to go to the castle in his place. Although Maurice insisted that he would die so that she wouldn't have to go, Belle snuck out of the house later that night, mounted her new horse and rode to castle.
While Belle was initially happy at the castle, as the enchanted objects did everything they could to make her feel welcome, she was still somewhat afraid of the Beast who mostly remained silent whenever she was with him. However, while taking an evening stroll in the forest just beyond the castle one night, Belle got attacked by a pack of wolves, but was saved when the Beast came to her rescue. After that, the two began to warm up to each other and get to know one another a lot better.
Although, Belle still missed her family and asked to be allowed to return home to see them for one night. The Beast complied and Belle returned to the cottage where Maurice greeted her with the utmost joy. Unfortunately, upon learning of the Beast and his riches, her sisters became determined to take possession of the Beast's castle, thinking that Belle's suitors would surely want them if they are wealthy.
So, the two sisters pretended that they had missed Belle dearly in order to get her to stay at the cottage, then proceeded to tell the suitors of the Beast who immediately agreed to kill him off. The five villains traveled to the castle where they immediately got confronted by the Beast who successfully scared them away but not before they fatally wounded him.
Upon realizing she had been tricked, Belle rode back to the castle as fast as she could and was able to turn the Beast back into a human by kissing him. At this, the enchantress turned Belle's sisters, as well as her suitors, into animals, in order to make them pay for their misdeeds.
The screenplay, which was set during 1709 began with Belle's family moving to a small cottage in the country after Maurice inexplicably lost his fortune. Shortly thereafter, Belle celebrated her 17th birthday and was given her mother's music box as a gift. However, after being told that he was to lose the house if he didn't pay his taxes, Maurice proceeded to sell the music box, but it accidentally got broken while he was looking for a potential buyer. While trying to return home, Maurice was chased by wolves and wound up at the Beast's castle. Meanwhile Belle's aunt tried to marry her off to Gaston but she was reluctant because she didn't love him.
Back at the castle, Maurice attempted to steal one of the Beast's roses, intending to give it to his daughter as a replacement birthday gift. Upon seeing this, the Beast became infuriated and threatened to kill him, but upon learning of Belle, he told Maurice that she could agree to stay at the castle in exchange for his life. However, Maurice would not hear of that and agreed to die, but asked if he could return home for one night in order to say goodbye to his family.
The Beast complied and sent him back to the cottage via an enchanted flying sedan chair.Upon learning of what happened, Belle agreed to go and stay with the Beast, but her father insisted that he'd die so that she wouldn't have to. However, later that night, Belle snuck aboard the sedan chair and went to the castle.
Little is known about how the story was to continue from there, but concept art shows that in the climax of the film, Gaston would've stolen the sedan chair in order to get it to take him to the castle where he would have proceeded to fight off several of the enchanted objects, before Gaston personally entered a duel with the Beast. However, the duel was to have ended in the Beast knocking Gaston over a wall.
Differences between the screenplays and the final film
- The screenplay, in particular on Belle's portion of the story, was much closer to the original fairy-tale.
- Belle had two wicked scheming sisters like in the original tale.
- At some point during Belle's stay, Beast would have shown Belle the castle's treasure room, similar to in the book and the 1946 film adaptation.
- Also like in the 1946 film adaptation, Belle's wicked sisters would also have played a role, alongside Belle's suitors, in trying to kill Beast.
- Belle had multiple suitors instead of just one.
- The Enchanted Objects didn't speak but communicated through miming.
- The screenplay, while not as faithful as the former one, was still fairly close to the original fairy-tale.
- Belle's family had two additional members: her younger sister, Clarice and her snobbish Aunt Marguerite, the latter of whom would have shared the role of main antagonist with Gaston.
- Gaston, instead of the town hero and a hunter, was a foppish marquis (French Nobleman).
- Philippe was named Orson, and in addition Belle's family had recently acquired a pet cat named Charley.
- As in Cox's screenplay, the Enchanted Objects were mute.
- Maurice would have encountered the Beast in the castle gardens where he would've spotted his reflection in a fountain, instead of inside the castle when the Beast burst in upon the discovery of an unwelcome guest.
- There was no time limit for the Beast to fall in love. Instead, he would've merely remained in his beastly form until he learned to love, just as in the original fairy tale.
- Instead of a prince, the Beast was labelled a duke in this version.
- The prologue was initially a fully animated sequence that showed why the curse happened as well as why the servants were cursed (specifically, she cursed them because they got in her way requesting that she be merciful to him due to being a child), as well as explicitly confirming that the Beast had been a child at the time of the curse. In the final film, however, it was replaced with a stained glass prologue sequence, with it only being obliquely implied that Beast had been a child at the time of the curse.
- On a related note, the draft featured an actual storybook opening that transitioned into the animated sequence in a similar manner to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The final version replaced this with the aforementioned stained glass prologue sequence.
- After Maurice blows up his current project, the townspeople arrived to mock Maurice for being insane, rather than Gaston and LeFou mocking Maurice.
- When refusing Gaston and throwing him out, Belle says "But thank you for asking," and there was a brief shot where she peeks out and grimaced (the implication being that Gaston falling into the mudpool was completely unintentional on Belle's part). This was cut out from the final release, although both the Broadway adaptation and the official comic adaptation retained the line.
- The Gaston reprise shows Gaston and LeFou stating they knew what they were doing was wrong yet did not care, as well as the villagers giving their support (although this was implied to be out of fear).
- In this version, Gaston travels to the Maison de Lunes (located in northern France) to meet with the asylum warden Monsieur D'Arque. In the film, the warden instead meets with Gaston in the tavern.
- The Music Box played a larger role in the story. It was broken during the rescue of Belle and Maurice, leading to Maurice staying behind to fix it, while in the film he accompanied Belle back to the castle.
- In the draft, Beast immediately proceeded to fight Gaston after the latter kicked the footstool. In the film, he only started to fight Gaston when he saw Belle's presence.
- Similarly, the wardrobe plays a role in aiding Beast when Gaston fought him, while in the final film, the fight was kept strictly between Beast and Gaston.
- In the draft, the entire village proceeded to watch the fight between Beast and Gaston from the bridge. In the final version, however, the fight started after the villagers had left the premises entirely.
- When the Teapot explains that the mob has the mirror to Beast, Beast assumes that Belle had sold them out before the Wardrobe assures him that Belle wouldn't do that.
- In the draft, when Gaston calls Beast a monster, Belle in addition to calling Gaston a monster also stated that while Beast may have not been particularly pleasant to be around, he also never did any of the stuff Gaston did to her or especially her father like blackmailing her into marrying him. Similarly, Gaston in the draft attempts to hit Belle in response to her decrying Gaston as the true monster only to be stopped by the horrified gasps by the villagers before deciding to rally them into a lynch mob instead. In the final film, Gaston immediately opted to rally the mob in response to Belle's claim.
- After the wolf attack, Beast killed a wolf, and Belle commented that he didn't need to go that far, with Beast stating his life was his to take with Belle mentioning that there was a concept called "mercy." This would later be referenced after Gaston stabbed him in the back, where Belle states that Beast should have killed Gaston so he wouldn't be dying, with Beast repeating her statement of mercy.
- Only the Beast was aware of Maurice trying to find Belle but hesitated to help due to having conflicting inner demons inside him, with Belle only finding out when the Music Box stumbled upon this and brought Belle over. In the final version, both found out what was happening to Maurice.
- In addition, the servants in the draft actually witnessed Beast letting Belle go first-hand. In the final version, Cogsworth only learns about Beast letting Belle go when Beast told him shortly afterward, and the rest of the servants learned this from Cogsworth.
- Be Our Guest was supplied to Maurice in the draft with Beast interrupting the song with his arrival under the belief that Maurice was a robber.
- Belle and Beast's human form were shown to get married in the draft, and the Beast, upon witnessing the enchantress made sure to show respect to her. In the final version of the film, there's no wedding alluded to or shown between the two, and the enchantress does not make any reappearance.
- The Bimbettes had less of a role in the draft, only appearing in the beginning song as well as the failed wedding.
- In addition, during their scene in the opening song, Gaston as well as LeFou are shown trying to non-verbally flirt with them, with their only reacting to the former. In the final film, Gaston completely ignores the Bimbettes during the opening scene and makes absolutely no attempt to flirt with them, with the closest it got to him having any direct interaction with them is him lifting their bench while they're sitting on it in the Gaston song.
- There was an owner of the tavern who was implied to be somewhat sympathetic to Belle. In the final version, however, it is implied that Gaston was the owner of the tavern in question.
- In the draft, Belle explored the castle while the servants tried to stop her due to fearing she'd discover the West Wing. In the final version of the film, the servants, namely Cogsworth, gave her a tour of the castle (although they still refuse to show the West Wing).
- When Beast leads Belle to her bedroom, Belle doesn't respond due to shock. In the final version, she attempts to inquire about the West Wing but Beast forbids her from doing so.
- In the draft, Belle's first encounter with the enchanted objects was with the wardrobe, while in the final version, it was with Mrs. Potts.
- In the draft, Beast attempted to lure Belle out with a tray, with Belle tricking him into going to the very end of the corridor, and then getting the tray at a fast enough speed to make Beast getting Belle out impossible, with Beast pointing out to the servants that he knew she'd make him look like a fool. This was cut out of the final film.
- The Mob Song was omitted, with Gaston's rallying the mob instead being treated as a non-musical scene.
- Cogsworth was left out of the battle in the draft, leading to a humorous scene where he attempts to rally the troops to fight back the invaders only to learn the mob had already been driven out, and also had a brief run-in with Gaston when he was searching the corridors.
- "Human Again" was a song in the script. However, it was cut out in the final film. In addition, originally, Beast pre-emptively gave Belle his library and shrugged off Belle's thanks. In the final film, Beast gave it to Belle as a suggestion by Lumiere.
- The servants when complaining about Belle's departure shortly before the mob arrives originally had Mrs. Potts calling them out and citing that Belle at least allowed for some pleasantness in the castle before Fifi reminds her that their humanity won't be restored as a result of her departure, leading to a humorous scene where Lumiere tries to flirt with her only to be dejected and Cogsworth implying that was her biggest fear. This was cut from the final film.
- Ironically, considering why the 1989 screenplay was rewritten and Jeffrey Katzenberg's involvement in it, a few years after the rewrite for Beauty and the Beast was made and released, Katzenberg had Pixar give their then-in-production movie Toy Story an "adult, cynical edge" to the plot, which eventually resulted in the infamous Black Friday reel that nearly shut down production of Toy Story.
- The scene where Maurice attempted to steal a rose from the Beast's garden, which led to his imprisonment, appeared in the 2017 live action film adaptation.
- The figurines on the music box that belonged to Belle's mother mirror those in the famous 18th-century painting "The Swing" by Jean-Honoré Fragonard. Interestingly, the painting was one of several famous artworks featured in Arendelle Castle's Portrait Room in Frozen.
Notes and references
- Taylor, Drew (January 3, 2016). "The Beauty and the Beast That Almost Was". Oh My Disney. Disney.
- Willstein, Paul (November 22, 1991). "`Beauty's' Story Was A Beast For Disney". The Morning Call. The Morning Call. Retrieved on September 20, 2013.
- Ames, Katrine (November 17, 1991). "Just The Way Walt Made 'Em". The Daily Beast. Newsweek LLC. Retrieved on March 9, 2013.
- Dickens, Faith (December 7, 2011). ""The Guy with the Problem": Reform Narrative in Disney's Beauty and the Beast". University of Central Florida Undergraduate Research Journal. University of Central Florida. Retrieved on 9 May 2013.