Monday, September 19, 2011

Learning From Disney's Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast Movie Poster
I walked in from soccer practice with two of my children. When we walked in, the youngest was in the living room watching Beauty and the Beast. Over the next several minutes as I figured out what I was going to eat for dinner (leftovers), this is what happened in the movie:

  • Beast is yelling because Belle doesn't want to eat with him. She has locked herself in the room. He storms off.
  • Moments later, she comes out. There's singing, then she goes on a tour and wanders into the forbidden West Wing.
  • Beast kicks her out when she finds the magical red rose. Belle flees saying she can't stay there.
  • While on horseback, she is attacked by wolves. All looks bleak until Beast comes to the rescue, fighting the wolves away. But, he is injured.
  • Belle takes him back to the castle. She tries to patch him up and they have a little war of words. The tone has changed, however, there is chemistry brewing.
  • The scene cuts to Gaston making a deal to throw Belle's father into the asylum unless she marries Gaston.
  • Then another scene with Belle's father rushing out of the house to look for her. As he leaves Gaston arrives looking for Belle and her father.
  • Back to Belle who is on the castle grounds as Beast has the idea to do something special for Belle.
  • The next scene has him showing her a surprise, his library.
  • We have music showing the development of their feelings for one another.
  • And last, a scene with the castle servants mobilizing since there's little more than 12 hours left for the spell to be broken. Remember this is the spell that turned their master into the Beast and them into furniture, etc.

All this happened quickly. One scene after another. As I was watching, I took note: this is how energetic my writing should be - especially if I'm writing genre fiction like fantasy or sci fi. If you have the DVD, check it out yourself. You will also see how fast each scene moves to the next. Each scene moves the plot forward efficiently.

The scenes also focus on the characters feeling and acting on something we can relate to whether anger, sadness, greed or gratitude. And as all this is happening, we are reminded that the clock is ticking. There's something big at stake for everyone and only 12 hours to get it done or else all is lost forever. 

Analyzing just the scenes I pointed out above, you can see each of the characters needs: Beast and the servants need the spell broken; Gaston wants Belle; Belle's father wants to find his daughter; Belle wants to keep her promise. We see their needs, and the obstacles to meeting them. 

I know it's an animated movie musical. But you can learn something from it to apply to your writing. Do your scenes pack the same kind of punch? If not, what's missing?

Have you seen Beauty and the Beast? What else do you think a writer can learn from the movie? Share your comments below.

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