In 1805 Henri Maillardet built a spring-activated automaton that draws pictures and writes verses in both French and English. The motions of the hand are produced by a series of cams located on shafts in the base of the automaton, which produces the necessary movement to complete seven sketches and the text.
When we are introduced to Maurice (Kevin Kline) in the live-action adaptation of the classic Disney animation film, he is an artistic inventor or mechanician* that specializes in music boxes, rather than the clumsy old man that invents odd machines (deus ex-machinas) that we see in the original.
According to Disney, “some of these music boxes represent different countries and were tailored as such so that Belle may experience the world without actually leaving their town.”
Maurice is depicted as an over-protective father who uses his skills to build these music boxes or models representing different places to allow Belle to escape, much like she does by reading and as the Enchantress allows the Beast to see the world by using the magic mirror.
* I purposefully use the word mehanician as Maurice’s inventions remind me a lot of the mechanical creations of Henri Maillardet. As the original fairytale was written by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve and published in La jeune américaine, et lescontesmarins in 1740, I like the idea that Maurice and Maillardet would have lived at the same time - being inspired by similar things in their respective fields - let’s call it sharing the same “zeitgeist”. I’m basically writing fan fiction at this point. I’ll stop now.