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

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A poster for Jean Cocteau’s 1946 romantic fantasy ‘Belle et la Bete’ (Beauty and the Beast). (Photo by Movie Poster Image Art/Getty Images)

18. The 1991 film took its cues from a 1946 predecessor

Given that Beauty and the Beast has been around since the 18th century, it’s been subject to quite a few adaptations. The animated movie wasn’t even the first film version of the tale. That honor belongs to La Belle et la Bete, a 1946 version directed by French poet and filmmaker Jean Cocteau. Some speculate that this version dissuaded Disney animators from undertaking an earlier attempt at the story. They would have hardly wanted to seem like copycats at the time.

Some of the elements in the 1946 film were included in the later animated version, however. In this movie, Belle is first subject to an unwanted suitor. His name is Avenant, and he is friends with Belle’s roguish brother Ludovic. She also has two sisters, Adelaide and Felicie, who spend most of the movie complaining about everything. Their father is a merchant who has lost the family’s fortune after his ships were lost at sea.

Though the 1991 version scrapped the siblings and the father’s merchant woes, it kept the suitor, now named Gaston.

Cocteau’s film also introduced many of the visual cues surrounding the enchanted objects. Early variants of the Beauty and the Beast story included a magical castle and household goods in the tale. However, the 1946 film introduced a magical candelabra, which would later be used as inspiration for the character of Lumiere. None of the objects in La Belle et la Bete talk, however.