Belle and Beast 1991 vs. Belle and Beast 2017
Belle and Beast 1991: By the time we are introduced to Beast, he is already more animal than human. He has given up on the chance of the curse being broke. Rather than just accepting it, he lets it swallow his heart and soul. Every day that passes he gets worse and worse. Belle serves as the catalyst of change. By showing him kindness, love and respect, Beast is slowly able to gain back his humanity. He starts to act more and more like a human, with his decision of letting Belle go to find Maurice being his more human and compassionate decision yet. Even the decision to not kill Gaston is one that comes from everything Belle has taught him; even when facing his biggest enemy he decides to show compassion and mercy. When he passes away, he has embraced death knowing that the time he spent with Belle was worth more than his entire life. This realization allows Belle to confess her true feelings for him, allowing him to be reborn again not just as the human prince but the man Belle help create through her love. They started off as not being equals but gradually grew into something beyond friendship.
Beauty and the Beast 2017: Both Belle and Beast are almost equals. While Beast still retains a monstrous nature, he is more of a tortured, depressed individual that has kept the memories of his past, his interests and his feelings. Both Belle and Beast are tortured souls that need to seek refuge in each other. They are both cursed in a way; Belle’s curse is that she grew up never knowing how her mother passed away, living with a potentially depressed father that overprotects her from having a similar fate, in a small town that pretty much mocks her for who she is, and would go as far as to destroy an invention of hers just because they thought it was too unorthodox. By meeting Beast and learning more about his world, she was able to find someone who also felt lonely in a cruel world and confide in him her true feelings without being judged about it while also sharing similar interests. By meeting Belle, Beast was able to learn that there is a lot to a man than just what he does or how he looks like; that we are complex beings with sometimes tragic memories. He is able to learn compassion, empathy and patience through Belle. Both by the end are transformed once they learned that they had more in common than their realize, and by not being afraid of opening their hearts to each other, they became better people by the end.
Same story, same characters, different development. This is what I gathered after talking to many people about both films, and it just makes me appreciate Disney’s take on the fairy tale even more; it is more than just a prince begging a woman to marry him, it is about the TWO OF THEM finding compassion and love in each other and towards each other, with love become a healing factor in both adaptations.
Just my two cents.