20 Things You Didn’t Know About Beauty and the Beast

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Belle, from Beauty and the Beast (Image via Disney)

5. Belle gained a foothold as a “quirky” character

It’s already fairly well known that Belle is an “unusual” Disney character. Original concepts of her were deemed to be almost too perfect. Animators thought that she looked a little too much like previous heroines, such as Aurora (Sleeping Beauty) or Ariel (The Little Mermaid). Designers rethought their work and came up with a somewhat conventional brown-haired, brown-eyed girl.

Art director Brian McEntee actually color-keyed Belle to make her stand out from the crowd of her little village. Look closely, and you’ll see that she’s the only character in the entire town to wear blue. She later encounters the Beast – another ill-regarded misfit – who wears blue and has blue eyes. This parallel doesn’t hold up entirely, however. Gaston also has blue eyes, making him the rare Disney villain to have eyes the same color as the protagonists.

Screenwriter Linda Woolverton had a lot to do with Belle’s characterization, too. She specifically wrote the character as part of “her self-directed mandate to move women and girls forward”. Woolverton also wanted Belle to have motivations beyond getting herself into a romantic relationship. Belle is initially far more interested in knowledge and learning than romance, and certainly isn’t going for the seemingly desirable Gaston.