My top 5 scenes are in chronological order but before I start, can we just take a moment to appreciate the INCREDIBLE design of the new book where the images in this post are from? Wow! Illustrated by design duo MinaLima, in the same series they've also published Peter Pan (see my blog post here) and The Jungle Book (which is I have browsed in store but I don't own yet – it's on my wish list though, hint, hint). However, The Beauty and the Beast is my favourite one yet and the detail of the design is incredible.
And now onto my favourite moments from the story (Disney film and original book)...
1. Belle sacrificing her own freedom for her father's
Belle isn't some helpless damsel in distress who needs other people to rescue her. No, she is the one rescuing other people. Not only is she a kind human being but she shows incredible courage in the face of peril, stands up for what is right, and help those she loves in any way she can. If that isn't a prime example of a kick-ass female character taking control of her own destiny then I don't know what is. Go, Belle!
2. The first time we lay eyes upon the library of dreams
While the Disney film ramped up the romance of Beast's castle considerably, the original fairy tale also has a library featured within it – and it's equally impressive. As a bookish child seeing Belle reading everywhere and then discovering the wondrous library in the castle that seems to go on for miles was pure magic. Now I'm a 30+ year-old adult and it's still one of my life goals to own a library like that one day (and a castle too, because why not).
3. Belle and Beast's first dinner together
Disney made this scene far cuter than it was originally, but this is still one of my absolute favourite moments in the story. It's the first time the two main characters connect outside of a captive-capturer dynamic and their chemistry is palpable. They may have met under less-than-romantic circumstances, but these kids are meant for each other – and this is the moment we all start to realise this. Also, all of the food sounds absolutely delish.
4. When the Beast lets Belle go
This is the scene in which Belle and we, as a reader or film viewer, see what was inevitable all along: the Beast loves Belle. He's willing to set her free and risk never being able to break the curse because Belle is distressed about her family and he just wants her to be happy. It's heartbreaking to see her leave the castle as the departure could be a permanent one and the consequences for the Beast are considerable. As a child the first time I saw this scene I definitely feared that that was the end for the two of them (though, of course, it was only the beginning).
5. The swoon moment where they live happily every after
I mean, what is a fairy tale without that one moment that makes your heart flutter and birds sing? In the Disney adaptation it's the scene that last rose petal falls down and Belle weeps over Beast's body until he – magically – comes back to life and transforms into the handsome prince he was beneath the furry exterior all along. In the book, it's when Beast proposes and Belle accepts, still not aware of the fact that this means her hairy hubby-to-be will quite literally shed the curse.
And those are my favourite moments from Beauty and the Beast, let me know yours in the comments below!
Disney's live-action Beauty and the Beast, starring Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellen, and more, is released in cinemas this Friday, 17 March.
The Beauty and the Beast novel featured in this post is written by Gabrielle-Suzanna Barbot de Villeneuve and illustrated by MinaLima. It's published by HarperDesign and retails for £20. You can get your copy from Foyles (where it's currently on sale for £15) or your own preferred retailer.