Beauty and the Beast (Cannon Movie Tales, 1987)

“To save her father, a girl who always puts others before herself promises to live her life in a lavish castle with a strange beast.”

– Anonymous, IMDB.

Beauty and the Beast is brought to us by Cannon Movie tales, being one of 6 movies released in the same series. The film stars Rebecca De Mornay (The Hand that Rocks the Cradle) and John Savage (The Deer Hunter) in the titular roles. According to IMDB trivia, Cannon’s Beauty and the Beast and Sleeping Beauty were shot at the same time. This apparently resulted in the two crews competing for the limited equipment, costumes, and sets.

Some thoughts from me (Potential spoilers below)… I got into a bit of a spree with all these Cannon Movie tales. Snow White kinda set the expectation for me that they’d all be pretty enjoyable, cheesy, and charming at the same time. While Beauty and the Beast isn’t terrible, it didn’t quite get up to the same awkward charm that Snow White did. Frankly, the movie can be a bit dull in parts.

I think out of all the regular fairy tales that get covered on this blog, Beauty and the Beast is the one that is the hardest to depict. I think it’s mostly because it relies heavily on the relationship/romance between Beauty and the Beast, while other tales can lean more on their more exciting story beats. It’s a lot easier to make a fun story with poisoned apples and magic pumpkins than it is a burgeoning romance between a Beast and his captive.

This is especially true for Beauty and the Beast adaptations, such as the Cannon Movie tales version, that stay pretty true to the original fairy tale. This leads into what I found was the most amusing part of this film: Beauty’s nightly dreams about a mysterious Prince while she stays with the Beast.

The best way to describe it is by listing Beauty’s daily routine:

  1. Beauty wakes up and wanders the castle, looking for the mysterious Prince from her dreams. She sees something that prompts her to make a wish out loud. The wish instantly comes true, to Beauty’s delight. 
  2. Beauty has an awkward dinner with the Beast. After some small talk, the Beast asks Beauty to marry him. She refuses.
  3. Beauty goes to bed and meets with the mysterious Prince in her dreams. The Prince berates her for not “finding” him, and often questions Beauty’s love for him. 
  4. Repeat

Honestly, the Beast ends up coming off a bit better than the Prince. Even though he’s imprisoned Beauty, he treats her with kindness from the get-go, including giving her free reign to wander the castle and all the privacy and free time she wants. Later we also find out he’s the one magically granting her every wish. Even with his awkward proposals he comes across as well as he could, when Beauty turns him down he doesn’t press the issue and usually leaves her alone (well, until the next night that is).

The Prince on the other hand, guilt trips Beauty every time they meet for not ‘finding’ him fast enough (AKA, for not falling in love with the Beast and accepting his marriage proposals). At one point Beauty tells the Prince she loves him, and the Prince asks her why she loves him. Beauty, legitimately, has no response. It’s pretty hilarious, it’s like Beauty’s admitting she doesn’t have reason to love the Prince other than the plot tells her to. It’s really fascinating to see the Beast competing with himself for the title of “Biggest jerk”.

So all that said, while this isn’t the most entertaining of the Cannon Movie tales, I did laugh enough times that I’ll probably show this to my viewing group at some point. I’m just not going to be rushing to do so.

References

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