Disney’s Most Succesful Villain
by Bryan Scheidler
This year saw the release of Disney’s latest live action recreation, Beauty and the Beast. While staying true to the original animated feature this film added to the legacy of the film by introducing new songs and more importantly new story elements. Many of the story elements that were added were done so to fix plot holes in the animated film. However a few changes to this film seem to have the effect of turning one Disney character into the greatest villain Disney has ever created. The character in question is none other than the Enchantress.
The nature of the Enchantress and her curse on the Beast is something that people on the Internet have debated for some time. Did she really curse a child for not trusting a sketchy looking stranger at her door? How did no one seem to remember there was a giant castle near the town? Why was the Prince, and not his butler, answering the door of his castle? The live action movie tried to address these issues in a few ways. First by giving the prince a different back-story. By making him older it removes the issue of an adult punishing a child for answering the door and not trusting the stranger who appeared. Secondly the curse placed on the beast and his castle also affected the town. It was this curse that causes them all to forget that there is a giant castle nearby. More then that though, it also prevented anyone originally from the town from finding it, as was made clear when Maurice tried to take Gaston there. It seemed that only people not originally from the town would be able to find the castle and be eligible to break the curse.
The reason for this was so that the person who would break the curse could not have any existing relationship with the Beast or anyone else from the castle. This all makes sense and you could understand why the Enchantress would do that, but there was one small problem. How was the Enchantress supposed to get new people to the village? If only someone who had no history with the Prince or the village could break the spell, then the Enchantress needed to find a way to force people to come to the village. Insert Belle’s back-story and the truth about her mom’s death. The movie tells us that Belle and her parents lived in Paris, but just after she was born there was an outbreak, to be specific the bubonic plague. To Quote Mark Damen, History Professor at Utah State University
“The results of this contagion were, however, felt not in mortalities alone but in demographics and psychology, too. Grim experience quickly taught people in the day that Plague decimated cities more heavily than rural communities. The reason for this was that the bacillus depends on fleas carried by rats as its principal vector and the crush and filth of urban life aided greatly in the spread of bubonic plague, but that was not yet known. The result was that people fled the cities of Europe in large numbers.”
What this tells us is that people went from the cities to small villages in order to escape the plague. For the Enchantress this had the desired effect of getting people unfamiliar with the Prince into the village. Let that sink in for a minute, in order to teach this Prince some manners (something nobody asked her to do) she caused a plague that would end up killing over 25million people in Europe, well done Disney you finally created a truly terrifying villain.
Author: Bryan Scheidler
Editor: Trisha Quezada