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09 June 2006 @ 04:52 pm
fairy tales in film  
I was thinking about Ever After, and how very nicely I thought that movie worked as a not-quite-fairy tale. All the elements were in place, and in fact I didn't notice the magic was missing, except on a meta level.

Because Beauty and the Beast is my very favorite fairy tale, I've been trying to figure out how you could make that story work without the magic. Turn it into a 'real' fairy tale, like Ever After. It's *not easy* to do to my satisfaction. The reason the BatB tv show worked was because we knew the Beast would never transform. That was part of their tragedy. But to pull off a traditional telling of BatB with the roses and the transformation *without* the dramatic physical change...very difficult. One makes it an emotional change, generally, which is *part* of the fairy tale, but not all of it, when this story is approached. Or you do the physical transformation of the geeky character into the beauty, but to me that's not enough. That's more like an homage to BatB, not the real story. debela had a quite fine idea on how to do it using social class and personal uncertainty to make it work, avoiding a literal physical transformation but transforming status and emotional growth instead. It might just work.

But then the flip side I'm also wondering is if you could tell the story in film today and *do* the actual fairy tale. Use the magic and the roses and the transformation and still make it ... Ever-After-ish. Would people go for it, do you think? Would it still be...*real* enough, if you used the magic? I think it'd be much easier to pull off now, after LotR and Harry Potter, than it would've been ten years ago, but I wonder.

Whatcha think?
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Patchchamois_shimi on June 9th, 2006 03:57 pm (UTC)
Plastic surgery and laser hair removal. And then the Beast discovers that he's handsome once he's rid of that harelip and the hirsuteness, and he doesn't need the Beauty anymore because women are falling all over him, and besides, if she'd really loved him she would have put out while he was still ugly, and he goes on to write a bestseller and appear on Oprah.
kitmizkit on June 9th, 2006 04:00 pm (UTC)
...I must admit I was thinking of a fairy-tale-like setting, not a modern one. Good lord. o.O :)
dancinghorsedancinghorse on June 9th, 2006 04:12 pm (UTC)
It's a classic psychological scenario: civilized female tames the rough-and-ready male. (Bruno Bettelheim to the rescue.) I'm writing it as an Alexander the Great prequel--Olympias and Philip II; though I am doing it as a fantasy. You can easily medievalize it by making the Beast one of the nastier types of robber baron. Chaucer did a version of it with the Griselda story. Sir Walter Scott shot holes in it in Ivanhoe.

Hey, if Leonardo da Vinci can be a fairy godmother, it's quite easy for the Beast to be a Norman reiver. ("Twenty-five years in this stinking armor...")
Patchchamois_shimi on June 9th, 2006 06:31 pm (UTC)
Now I'll probably dream this tonight only about 10 times more bizarre and disturbing. About even odds on whether I remember it or not. :D

There are some days I don't even want to admit my brain and I are on speaking terms.
Trent the Uncatchableknappenp on June 9th, 2006 04:21 pm (UTC)
I didn't know that Vincent would never transform. I always thought he might, someday.

So write it, already. :)
kitmizkit on June 9th, 2006 07:15 pm (UTC)
He was born that way. It'd take chamois_shimi's cynical plastic surgery to transform him.

Next year. I'll write it next year. In my copious free time. :)
Alix (Tersa): Toast--laaaaazzzy (tersa)tersa on June 9th, 2006 04:38 pm (UTC)
Whatcha think?

I think I haven't had enough coffee this morning to think that much. ;)

(OKay, that wasn't the answer you were looking for, but I will let it perc in the back of my head. :>
jennifer_dunnejennifer_dunne on June 9th, 2006 04:44 pm (UTC)
One version I read that worked very well was in a sf setting. The Beast was actually part of a separate species/sub-species of alien, and the rose was to identify his mate. It would only bloom when the thorns pricked her DNA. In return for large sums of cash and political favors, the daughter so chosen must leave and never return. It wasn't so much a "beast" to human transformation, as it was an "other" to human transformation, as her mate stops thinking like an alien, and starts trying to think like a human. He didn't start off a jerk, and become a good person, so much as he always wanted her to be happy (within the constraints of being his mate), and originally tried behavior that would have made an alien happy, which had the result of making her human self very unhappy.

Can't for the life of me remember the title or who wrote it, though.
kitmizkit on June 9th, 2006 06:11 pm (UTC)
Oh, what a pity you can't remember who wrote it. That sounds like a story I'd like!
Chrysoulachrysoula on June 9th, 2006 04:50 pm (UTC)
Hmm.

I think the best way to make it feel real and avoid a fantastic magic feel by delving into actual folklore. I mean, let's be honest, how unreal did Ladyhawke feel? To me, it felt pretty darn real, just as Ever After did. There was a bit of magic but what mattered was the love and the jealousy.

Anyhow, the relevant folklore here is, of course, a werewolf. And/or something Tam Linnish. You don't want magical music and floating spinning ala Disney's B&B (which I do love, but is quite magical). You can have the roses and all, but I think there'd need to be (just as in Ever After) a lot of determined action on the part of the heroine. In the Disney one, it's a miracle, a gift of grace. The simple act of stating the words triggers the change. That, of course, is magic.

But, oh, say the Beast is far less human, a wolf with human eyes and fingered paws. Say he's not even able to /talk/. Offhand, I'd give him a little sister or other relative who CAN talk and was caught in the curse with him. Or some other means of formal communication. Or perhaps he can turn into a man for the hour of midnight but if anybody TOUCHES him (or sees him clearly), he'll turn back into an animal. (That way they could talk). And I'd make him come howling down to the Beauty's father's door, and Beauty volunteers to go instead. I suppose there'd probably need to be a subplot of some sort to keep it feeling real... anyhow, I imagine Beauty going on a solo quest to find some item: a relic, maybe, or a rare plant, or some kind of sacred quicksilver. And she feeds it to him during some significant stellar event. And whee, Beauty gets her prince. No /magic/, just faith, or alchemy or something.

Alternately, do the same thing in a post-apocalyptic story and make him a horribly mutated zombie plague survivor and she's the person who finds a cure. ;-)

On the old TV show... I never got to watch it as much as I wanted but I always ended up feeling like the only thing standing between them was social barriers rather than any physical barrier. But I guess that's true with most beasts, sort of. "I love you /even though you're ugly/ (but basically humanoid) and I'm rewarded by you turning pretty! Yay!"

(But B&B is my favorite fairy tale, too. Go figure.)

There's other, funnier, more Shakespearean ways about it, too. Gender-flip it, and disguise the girl as a boy...
Mary Annepers1stence on June 9th, 2006 05:00 pm (UTC)
You can also take the approach where Beast isn't really all that beastly, just unkempt (think Tarzan straight out of the woods) and unmannered in social customs and thinks of himself as uncouth and beastly and unlovable and is terribly insecure. When she comes back to him with some terribly romantic gesture at a moment that he's at his lowest (suicidal?) point, that's the proof he is lovable. The transformation is that he starts showering, cuts his hair, and starts wearing clothes more suitable to a grown man than a slouchy wild man.

Beauty and the Beast is really a sort of Cinderella with gender reversal on some levels.
Ellen Millionellenmillion on June 9th, 2006 05:12 pm (UTC)
This is exactly what came to my mind, too. :)
kitmizkit on June 9th, 2006 10:17 pm (UTC)
But that's not a significant enough transformation to really work for me as a BatB story. I mean, I've read bunches of those kinds of stories, and I understand that yes, these are BatB riffs, and sure, it works, but it's not what *I* personally would be trying to achieve through a retelling of the story on film. Not to dismiss that as a legitimate BatB version; it's just not what I'm reaching for in trying to think of ways to tell that story on film. (It's all hypothetical anyway, but it's fun!)
madmiss on June 9th, 2006 05:11 pm (UTC)
I think one way to do the 'transformation' would be scars. Scar tissue can be red an inflamed hence the beast, but over time they diminish and some scars go away completely.
The transformation its self is slow, healing bit by bit, but when Beauty sees the beast hit by a ray of light in the rose garden she finally 'sees' the transformation.

I for one would love an Ever-After version of BatB. Will you be writing it soon?
kitmizkit on June 9th, 2006 07:08 pm (UTC)
I for one would love an Ever-After version of BatB. Will you be writing it soon?

Not very. :)
Janne: Leaf on the Wind (LJ Tamaduh)janne on June 9th, 2006 05:12 pm (UTC)
Wasn't that story supposed to end with the beast dying? Maybe I've been reading too many Grimm tales... King Kong and Phantom of the Opera come to mind as non-magic retellings of the same tale, but I guess that wasn't what you were looking for, either...
Ysarn Drax: Dakotaysarndrax on June 9th, 2006 05:51 pm (UTC)
This reminded me of one of my FAVORITE versions of BatB called "East of the Sun, West of the Moon" where the Prince is forced to transform each day into a great white bear. But that doesn't really answer your question.

I think that it could be done with a minimal amount of magic involved...but I think that it could be done well and be rather popular with all of the magic intact.
kitmizkit on June 9th, 2006 07:00 pm (UTC)
That's a great story, EotS, WotM. Somebody, maybe aelfsciene gave me a copy. :) Of course, I don't think I've met a BatB story I didn't like, but still! (No, that's not true, I didn't like Tepper's BEAUTY very much.)
Janne: iQ (LJ chem_nerd)janne on June 9th, 2006 09:21 pm (UTC)
Tepper's Beauty is the reason I stopped reading her entirely. More's the pity, the previous books were all wonderful.
kitmizkit on June 9th, 2006 10:25 pm (UTC)
I actually read a couple of Tepper books after BEAUTY (which was the first of her books I read), despite it. It took me a very long time, though, to be willing to believe they might be worth reading. I was astonished. :)
Mercy: Buckey Computermercy on June 9th, 2006 06:40 pm (UTC)
Of course my first reaction was do it with Logan and Rogue but that's fan fic and not what you're talking about.

I would look at what time period you would want. I was thinking that doing it after the French Revolution would be cool. So you would keep the class separation but have the horrific over-shadowing of the deaths. Maybe Beast is secretive over bearing (former) Aristocrat or Landowner. Maybe Beauty is a maid...

See now my mind just jumped to doing it as a Quills fan fic. I don't think I'm going to be much help.

I would love to see what you come up with. :)
kitmizkit on June 9th, 2006 07:08 pm (UTC)
*laugh* Do you, by chance, write a fair amount of fic? :)

Someday I'll do something with it and then you'll get to see what, perhaps. :)
Mercymercy on June 9th, 2006 09:38 pm (UTC)
*laugh* Do you, by chance, write a fair amount of fic? :)

I guess, I made it rather painfully obvious, didn't I? *blushes*

It is a great idea and you really should write it. I would love to see your spin on the fairy tale (magic or no magic).
kitmizkit on June 9th, 2006 10:27 pm (UTC)
*laugh* Nothing wrong with writing fic. And Wolverine's a classic Beast, so who can blame you for the temptation? :)

I wrote a story-length version for a college class many years ago. It's such a homage to Robin McKinley's BEAUTY that I was embarrassed even at the time. It got an A, though. :)
jupitertulips on June 9th, 2006 11:14 pm (UTC)
Jane Eyre comes to mind.
(Anonymous) on June 11th, 2006 02:25 pm (UTC)
BatB
I don't know if this helps, but in my life I have noticed that people suffering from chronic unhappiness are discernible from a distance. Their shoulders slouch, they have frown lines on their face, they generally don't look at others and when they do it's with a look of disdain or misery.

Also, if one is told (preferably from an early age) the he is worthless and evil, he will believe it and sink into chronic unhappiness.

Perhaps you could do BatB with the Beast as an unhappy man, and when Belle arrives and finally makes him see that he does have worth and can be happy, the transformation begins.

This could even work for the servants, if you have them like in the Disney movie, b/c when one is forced to keep company with a miserable person, one becomes miserable over time.
shimmerydaze on June 11th, 2006 09:19 pm (UTC)
Being "rescued" from yourself by your true love is pretty classic, but I'd rather have most of the work being done by the hero. Because in real life, you can love someone as much as you want, but if they can't accept it, it's not real to them. The real transformation is learning to love yourself, as corny as that sounds.

I can't see not having a magical version of Beauty and the Beast--I mean, there was Fran Drescher's movie 'Beautician and the Beast', which covered all the stuff we're talking about but wasn't handled in a way that could leave any viewer satisfied.

And there was a decent BatB book called 'The Fire Rose' by Mercedes Lackey that took place in San Francisco. It was more about alchemy than magic, and it avoided a fairytale feel--which was it's downfall for me. I was impressed with the storytelling and the setting, but it was ultimately emotionally unfulfilling.

My own version would have to be magical. In fact, it's been plotting in my mind as a bedtime storytelling device to help me get to sleep--for a while. But I'd love to see a non-magical version that holds up to the fairytale feel, like Ever After did. Although, I think most love stories have the same elements to some degree or another.