Music Monday: Belle (from Beauty & the Beast)
One of my favorite Disney characters is Belle from the 30th animated feature film Beauty and the Beast (1991). We meet her at the very beginning of the movie with her song, Belle. Written by composer Alan Menken and lyricist Howard Ashman, epic song plays like an operetta-like production that reveals much about Belle's character. Disney Legend Paige O'Hara provided the acting and singing voice for Belle.
A couple years ago, I was able to attend a D23 special presentation where Menken was on stage for about an hour and spoke of some of the stories behind his Disney songs. Watch this video (start at 12:33) and hear how the song Belle came to life. Initially, Ashmen and Menkin thought that this song was a little long and would not get a green light.
Belle was nominated for for the Academy Award for Best Original Song for the 64th Academy Awards (1992). Another song from this movie would go on to win the actual Oscar for Best Original Song, Beauty and the Beast.
Since the movie's debut 25 years ago, there has been a successful Broadway musical adaptation. There is a current Beauty and the Beast Musical that is on tour. The story and music remain timeless. The opening song, Belle, is really one of the most memorable scenes in the Disney animated film library.
One final note: There has been an on-going fan theory that there is a Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin connection in this particular song. The moment when Belle enters the bookshop and chooses a book that she has already read, she claims it is her favorite because of the "far off places, daring swordfights, magic spells, a prince in disguise." What do you think? Is it plausible?