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Thursday Treasures

February 9, 2012

How 'Beauty and the Beast' Made Two Little Boys Cry: A Silly/Sad Retrospective by Pedro Hernandez and Kelvin Celdeno

While this would be argued by many Disney purists, Beauty and the Beast is one of the most beautiful films ever produced. It's mix of energetic music, lush animation and enchanting drama made it a delight for many children growing up. This particular tale is about how the presence of the film was so strong it caused a great reaction on two little boys, Pedro and Kelvin.

Kelvin's Story

People often say that your teen years are when you blow things out of proportion and get emotionally high-strung over anything and everything. I disagree. I'd say that's what your elementary school years are for. Take, for example, when I was six. Christmas of 1992 was approaching (whoops, I just revealed my age), and as a huge Disney fan even then, there were plenty of things I wanted. What I wanted most for jolly old Saint Nick to get me, though, was Beauty and the Beast on VHS.

Now, I honestly am not sure if I was even aware of Beauty and the Beast during its theatrical run. I remember The Little Mermaid and Aladdin's almighty marketing campaigns and merchandising, but I'm having trouble remembering Beauty's. I remember having a large, hardcover 90-page storybook adaptation of the film released by Twin Books Publishing, so I guess I knew of it early on. For whatever reason, though, I seemed to only form an opinion over it during its VHS release in time for Christmas.

Now imagine being stripped of the opportunity to witness this scene come to life

As luck would have it, it turned out our Kindergarten class was going to have a movie day, and I think you all know what film was going to be shown. That's right ' Citizen Kane. All right, all right. It was none other than Beauty and the Beast. Needless to say, I was thrilled. I was going to get to watch it with my friends before even getting my copy from Santa. Unfortunately, my big mouth ruined it for me.

You see, I was a very talkative child growing up. That was the only behavior-related issue I ever really had in elementary school. I never knew when to shut up. That movie day was no exception. Apparently my jabbering was frowned upon by my teacher Mrs. Bausti, so she decided that I was banned from school, or at least from the movie. My heart sank as she had me sit in a chair facing a small dark hall that connected our classroom to the one next door, my back to the television.

Then I heard it. Alan Menken's opening instrumental during the prologue. I couldn't resist. I turned my head over my shoulder to see the TV'only to find Mrs. Bausti looking directly at me and scolding me to turn around. I managed to catch a fleeting glimpse of the TV, but it wasn't enough. I tried this a few other times before she was really getting fed up and proceeded to yell at me to turn around.

The emotional turmoil of not getting to see Beauty and the Beast was too overpowering for me. So what did I do? Did I defiantly turn around? Did I march out of that classroom? Did I give Mrs. Bausti a piece of my mind? No, I did what any six year old would do under such stress. I cried.

Oh, boy, did I cry. My sniffling and wailing was enough to distract my classmates from watching the film and watching me instead. One girl in my class, in an effort to rescue me from such despair, approached Mrs. Bausti and told her of my sorrow. It didn't work. She merely answered, 'I don't care.' Not even my trademark sad puppy eyes being shot her way could melt her frozen heart (or at least simulate one in that empty aortic cavity). So I sat there staring off into the shadows as I could hear the film play out but couldn't see it. After an agonizing 90 minutes, I was able to return to my desk'where I broke down and cried some more.

I had missed it. I missed the chance at getting to see Beauty and the Beast. Sure, I heard it, but I didn't want some sort of pseudo radio show. I wanted the movie. Part of my tears emanated from that, and part of them were because I was terrified my mom would find out and go all Beast on me. To my utter relief, Mrs. Bausti didn't say a word of this to her. She probably knew the punishment had tormented me enough.

I pretended like nothing happened that day even though I was still miserable inside over having missed the movie. I still held out hope that Santa would get me the VHS for Christmas, though. I guess I didn't consider excessive talking in class as something that would earn me a spot on the naughty list. So did it? Perhaps that's irrelevant considering how many times I've since watched Beauty and the Beast, but if you must know, the answer is yes. I've also heard from reliable sources that Mrs. Bausti received enough coal for 42 barbecues.

Pedro's Story

My story is a tad more sadder than Kelvin's (though not being allowed to watch Beauty and the Beast would be devastating for anyone that young), but one that pretty much shaped the way I look at Disney animation and love stories forever. It all began one day in the hectic holiday season when I went shopping with my family. I was ten years old at the time. My mom had told my older sister to babysit me while they went out shopping for presents. While walking around the mall, we ran into a small Disney kiosk filled with all sorts of goodies, toys, and collectibles. They also had a small television with Beauty and the Beast playing on it. Since I had not seen the movie prior to this mall visit I asked my sister if we could go see it. She agreed, and we spent the rest of the day watching the movie.

To say that I was enthralled by it all would be the understatement of the century. Even though my English was not as developed as it is now (meaning that 'Be Our Guest' sounded more like BLAH BLAH BLU BLIIIH BLAAA BLAAAAAAAA), I was still enjoying everything that was happening on-screen and really getting into the narrative. Then came the final act of the story. Gaston was rapidly approaching the Beast, and Belle was trying her hardest to prevent a tragedy from happening. Even though Gaston was eventually defeated, things turned really dark. Beast was stabbed to death, leading to his final moments with Belle.

At that point I perfectly understood everything that was going on. The conversation they had was very clear to me, and the more death approached the Beast, the more upset I was. Then Beast proclaims that he was glad to had seen Belle one last time, he closes his eyes, and Belle says with tears running down her eyes - 'I love you.' My little heart dropped in that spot right there. You couldn't see it in my face because in my mind, big boys don't cry, especially in public where they could be mocked and ridiculed by others, or worse, scolded by your parents. So with all my might, I tried my best to hold back tears. But in my mind and heart I was crying a river. This became even harder to bear when Beast became human again, leading to one of the happiest endings ever conceived.

The movie was over and my sister and I ended the day. On the car ride home I couldn't stop thinking about the movie, especially the ending. I once again resisted the urge to cry as Belle's 'I love you' echoed in my mind. The scene was just so effective in terms of emotional resonance that even my ten year old mind could interpret the deeper meanings behind it. Beast had accepted death, not because he was finally free from the curse that drove him to anger and sadness for ten years, but because he got to see the woman that made a grand difference in his life. Belle was holding onto the hope that Beast would survive, which lead her to express her deepest feelings, feelings that came to full bloom in that scene. Add to this the stunning music and quality of the animation and you have a scene that struck me harder than the death of Mufasa in The Lion King and Bambi's mom in Bambi COMBINED.

Even if the final scene would always bring me to tears (much to my malign as my family would tease me for it, saying that I was crying over a stupid movie) I still watched the movie religiously. My cousin used to own a VHS copy of the movie, so whenever I visited my grandma's house I would play the tape, even when I wasn't allowed to. I even 'borrowed' the movie one time. One thing to note was that I would always watch the movie by myself, doors and windows closed, so I could openly cry whenever the final scene happened. That's how strong the overall movie was in my childhood.

In the past I've talked about how The Lion King was the movie I cherished the most throughout my childhood, up until the movie was released on DVD in 2003. In 2002, Beauty and the Beast came back with a vengeance with its DVD release, a release I was eagerly looking forward to and later bought. It was then that the movie would be heavily watched once more, and the final scene still brought on the tears. While The Lion King stepped back from being my all time favorite Disney movie, Beauty and the Beast took its place. It is a movie that really did change the way I appreciated love stories and inspired me to write some of my own.

And those are our stories. The Lion King may be the most popular movie, and The Little Mermaid did kick start the animation renaissance of the 90s, but Beauty and the Beast also played a role in that, giving us a story that offered the best Disney could offer, a beautiful story about redemption and the belief that love is the strongest force we will ever encounter in life.


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