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It’s the 25th anniversary of Disney’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. I like the movie, but I wonder about its heroine.

At the movie’s start, Belle’s a snob. In a busy, bustling village, full of activity, where everyone is friendly to her, all she does is complain about how every day is like every other day. Until the vain and shallow Gaston shows up, the worst thing that any villager does is show more interest in opening his shop than in hearing Belle go on and on about a book she’s just read. So much for Belle as a lovable Disney heroine.

(Belle gets the book for free from the bookseller. I wonder if he has fantasies about the most beautiful girl in town: “Maybe if I give her a few things, she’ll give me a little something.”)

At the Beast’s castle, the servants offer Belle a lavish banquet, which must have taken them hours to prepare, but imagine their response after it’s over: “All of the work we did, and she just dipped a finger into a few dishes. All that food — wasted! I understand that a girl has to watch her figure, but couldn’t she take more than a few swallows, just to be polite?” “And why use her finger? I know she lives in a provincial village, but hasn’t she learned to use a fork? The utensils are all sobbing because she wouldn’t hold any of them.”

I also found it a bit convenient and coincidental that Belle, who loves books, just happens to land in a castle that just happens to have a vast, beautiful library in perfect condition — unlike the rest of the castle, which seems to lie in dull, dusty neglect.

Ah, well. It’s still a good movie, funny and exciting and moving, although I wish that it had used the ending that I once heard Paige O’Hara (the voice of Belle) describe: After the Beast becomes the Prince, Belle looks at him and asks: “Do you think you can grow a beard?”

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