Beauty and the Beast Part 2 (With Some Jerk with a Camera!)
Original Air Date:
September 17, 2014
Brows Held High
Narrator: Previously on Brows Held High
Kyle (v/o): (Singing)
Jerk: Well, the Disney version had good directors too!
Kyle: Directors? Plural? So it was film making by committee?
Jerk: Everyone knows that 2 directors makes it twice as good.
Kyle: Fine, what else did they do?
Jerk: Disney’s “Hunchback of Notre Dame!”
Kyle: (makes disgusted noise)
Jerk: And “Atlantis: The Lost Empire!”
Kyle: (More disgusted) Eww!
Jerk: And a short cartoon that (Realizes what he’s about to say isn’t helping, Kyle realizes this too and looks at him try to grasp at straws) used to play at EPCOT right before an animatronic show about a little guy names buzzy who controlled the brain of a 12 year old. It closed down in 2006. (Tries to get the audience interested and sings to the tune of "Gaston" from the Disney version)
No one plots like Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise,
No one…(Stops, he know its not helping) Never mind.
Kyle: (in a tone like he’s won) Quite the oeuvre!
Jerk: Quit speaking French! Look
Jerk (v/o): First of all, multiple directors is the norm in animation. They’re not just pointing a camera at actors, they have to painstakingly create the movie frame-by-frame. That means more material needs to be approved and their aren’t enough hours in the day for one person to approve it all.
Kyle (v/o): What about Brad Bird?
Jerk (v/o): Brad Bird is to us as we are to amoeba! He doesn’t count! Second of all, the term “Disney Movie” may have a lot of negative connotations to high brow types like yourself, but if all their movies were as good as this one (Disney’s Beauty and the Beast”), it wouldn’t. Amid all the tie in products, the god awful direct-to-video midquels, and questionable marketing choices…
(A Pizza Hut tie in commercial is shown)
Female announcer: The fantasy of “Beauty and the Beast,” now at Pizza Hut!
Jerk(v/o): …It’s easy to forget how acclaimed Disney’s “Beauty and The Beast” was. Hell, the New York Film Festival gave a standing ovation to an unfinished rough cut.
(Cut to a 90s episode “Siskel and Ebert,” as they talk about this)
Roger Ebert: (In delight)…And I can’t see the New York Film Festival standing up and applauding anything!
Jerk (v/o): It won the Golden Globe for Best Picture Musical or Comedy and was the first ever animated best picture Oscar nominee!
Jerk: Your precious Frenchman never even won at Cannes!
Kyle: He was made honorary president for life at Cannes! (admits) Posthumously.
- Actually, Jean Cocteau was honored President of Cannes in 1954 and 1955. He was still alive at those times. He eventually died in 1963.
Jerk: So, they named his corpse president for life? How meaningful.
Kyle: I just don’t understand why you’re not giving the Cocteau version enough credit? Without it, the Disney version wouldn’t exist the way it does!
Jerk: (suspicious) I order you to elaborate!
Kyle (v/o): 1st: the Beast’s appearance. Yes, the medium of animation allowed Disney to be wilder with their designs of the Beast. But, in general, he still has a very feline demeanor. That started with Cocteau. Before, the Beast was depicted as a boar or an elephant or a stag. In fact, Cocteau wanted a stag like design for the Beast, which would tie into Cernunnos of Celtic mythology.
(Footage of the 1946 film with Beast and Belle by a stag statue on the grounds of his castle.)
Jerk (v/o): Is that why the Beast uses (Sings to no music) “antlers in all of his decorating?”
Kyle (v/o): Pretty much, yeah. 2nd: the magic of the castle. Cocteau had a reliable stable of go to motifs, including mirrors. The magic mirror appear first in Cocteau’s film, which would later become a key device in the Disney version. Also, in the original fairy tale, the castle has no servants. Food magically appears before its guests, the beds are self-made, the rooms, self-cleaning. It was Cocteau who made those invisible servants visible
(Cut to Belle talking to Avenant and Ludovic near the end of the film.)
Belle: Invisible hands serve me.
Kyle (v/o): (confused) But he still called them invisible? Ok. But, the smoke breathing statues, the hand candelabras… (Tries a new name) “Handelabras?” (Settles on it) Handelabras, all Cocteau’s idea! Disney then took that idea and have them sing and dance, because…well it’s more fun to get your picture taken with a character that has a face.
(Cut to a fake postcard of Kyle and Jerk at Disneyland, looking happy with a handelabra as if it were a character at the park. The bottom left of the postcard reads: “Greetings from Disneyland.” The cut to them at the park posing for the photo.)
Jerk: So, basically Cocteau made the Richard Purdum version?
(Cut to footage of Purdum’s “Beauty and the Beast” rough animation)
Jerk (v/o): (In a British accent) “Richard Purdum,” (normal accent) British animator and original director Disney hired. In Purdum’s take on the tale, there were no songs, the enchanted objects didn’t talk, Gaston was an aristocratic fop, and in place of Cocteau’s shrewish sisters, Belle had a shrewish aunt who bore more than a passing resemblance to Cinderella’s shrewish, evil step mother. Disney chairman, Jeffery Katzenberg, didn’t think it worked at all, so entered “Little Mermaid” songwriters, Howard Ashman and Alan Menken and the rest is history.
Kyle (v/o): Again, and let’s all just assume that time is linear and things that happen after other things happen after other things, shouldn’t you be saying that Richard Purdum was trying to be like Cocteau’s film?
Jerk (v/o): (shouts) Things happen in the order I perceive them! And maybe Katzenberg hated that version for a reason. Frankly, I think Disney’s existing version gives the story more depth. In Cocteau’s film, Belle’s antagonist sisters have a lesser impact because everyone knows they’re antagonists.
(Cut to earlier in the ’46 film)
Ludovic (Belle’s brother): (To Adelaide and Felicie, Belle’s sisters) May the Devil himself splatter you with his dung.
Kyle (v/o): That line shouldn’t sound so beautiful in French.
Jerk (v/o): Gaston, on the other hand, is beloved by the entire town and he turns from a mere buffoon to a full-fledged villain so gradually, you hardly even notice.
Kyle (v/o): Which brings me to Cocteau’s 3rd addition:
(Cut to the beginning of the film, Avenant retrieves the arrow that nearly killed the dog near where Belle was cleaning the floor.)
Avenant: Belle, you weren’t made to be a servant. (Points to the clean floor) Even the floor longs to be your mirror!
Kyle (v/o): Cocteau created Gaston! The character’s name here is “Avenant,” but it’s essentially Gaston. He’s a hunter by trade, he’s smarmy, he’s got a big violent streak, and most importantly, he is Belle’s human suitor. There is no character like this in the fairy tale. The villains, as you said, were Belle’s selfish sisters. Cocteau’s innovation was to create a human suitor for Belle, an inversion of The Beast: beautiful on the outside, while beastly on the inside. Hitting that point home, Jean Marais plays Avenant as well as The Beast. Cocteau basically made the story as we know it today; a love triangle power dynamic hinging on perceived beauty versus internal beauty.
The Beast: I am a monster.
Belle: There are men more monstrous than you, though they conceal it well.
(cut to the Disney film)
Disney Belle: He’s no monster Gaston, you are!
Kyle (v/o): (in a bit of a snobby tone) How’s that for elaboration, Mr. “Mickey Mouse Club…”
Jerk (v/o): (interrupts) Does Jean “Cock tease” really want me to prefer the Beast over this Patrick Swayze looking dude (Avenant)?
Kyle (v/o): What do you mean?
Beast: I know I’m horrible to look at, but I would die of grief if I let you go. (cut to a different scene on the film) Besides being hideous, I’m not quick witted.
(Cut to another scene)
Belle: You’re very late.
Beast: Thank you for noticing, Belle.
Jerk (v/o): That’s right, ladies, ignore all that empty flattery. If you want to know if he loves you so, it’s in his (picture and caption saying “Red Flag” us shown) manipulative self-flagellation!
Kyle (v/o) Oh, that’s not fair!
Jerk (v/o): That was the most passive aggressive horseshit I’ve ever heard!
(Cut to footage of the Disney film)
Kyle (v/o): Well, is a passive aggressive Beast any worse than an active aggressive one?
Disney Beast: (Shouts at Belle from outside her room.) Go ahead and STARVE! (To Lumiere, Cogsworth, and Mrs. Potts.) If she doesn’t eat with me, then she doesn’t eat at all!
Jerk (v/o): Yeah, this story is kind of inherently fucked up. Stripping a metaphor and it's a guy keeping a woman prisoner and piling her with stuff until she agrees to sleep with him.
Kyle (v/o): Well, when you’re right, you’re right. It’s not impossible to tell the story without somewhat glorifying abusive relationships, but neither is it easy.
(Footage of the film fades to white and then fades to Kyle and Jerk at Disneyland. In the background is an ESPN store.)
Jerk: (Curious) So tell me, how does this little story about a young woman who falls for a caring and emotionally distant mysterious man while fending off the advances of a more dangerous and more macho suitor and at the same time harboring affection for both men’s more monstrous sides…(Realizes) Oh dear god.
(Jerk then covers his mouth as if about to gag and runs off)
Kyle: Oh crap, he figured it out! (Runs after him)
(The colors of the scene get dulled, trying to look like the 1st Twilight film. Jerk runs to runs to a part of the park filled with more trees and then stops.)
Jerk: (Looking worried and scared.) It’s a love triangle, (Kyle up walks behind him, neither making eye contact) the lead protagonist is boring, the magical rules are arbitrary, and the syndrome is like…Swedish or something. (Inhales) How old is this tale?
Kyle: As old as time.
Jerk: How long has it been as old as time?
(The camera then circles the two, cut back to a close up of them.)
Jerk: I know what this is.
Kyle: Then say it, (Pause. Camera circles them again) out loud.
Jerk: Twi…(Stops, turns to Kyle, angry.) No! Every time I say that word without following it with “Zone,” somewhere, a real vampire dies of cardiac arrest!
(Cut back to footage of the French film)
Kyle (v/o): Then don’t say it! Hell, let’s just brush it all aside and go back to…
(We see a scene where Beast is feasting on a deer)
Jerk (v/o): (Scared) He eats live deer too!?! OH GOD, HE IS EDWARD! I CAN’T UNSEE IT!
(Footage goes to black like it’s Jerk’s eyes blinking shut)
Kyle (v/o): But you’ve got to try! Try to unsee it!
Jerk (v/o): (Blinking open) Okay. Okay, just let me look at the again and… (Footage show of the Beast’s jewels sparkle) HE’S SPARKLING! HE’S SPARKLING!
Kyle (v/o): Ok, calm down. CALM DOWN, MAN! (We hear a slap sound in the background, as if Kyle slapped Jerk to calm him down.) We can get through this. We can get through this. He’s just…he’s just a little shiny. He’s just a little shiny! We can get through this! (Sighs, cut to black with another eye blink) Here is why it’s not a big deal: Howard Ashman called it a tale as old as time, because the idea of a beauty falling for a beast is as old as time or at least as old as the written word. Our oldest known story, the epic of Gilgamesh has a love story of sorts between a divine priestess, Shamhat, and a savage wild man, Enkidu, and that idea of a heavenly woman falling for an animalistic man has been repeated and retold for millennia since. Enkidu and Shamhat, Hades and Persephone, Death and the Maiden, Christina and the Phantom of the Opera, and yes, Bella and Edward, are all variants of “Beauty and the Beast.” There are plenty of reasons why the story is retold, either as a tirade against superficiality or as a metaphor for heterosexual, cisgender relationships or as an expression of perverse lust for the forbidden and they’re certainly problematic undertones, which we as a culture have only recently come to terms with. But, in any case, the basic trope is sturdy enough and culturally engrained enough to support a multitude of interpretations and subversions over centuries of story telling tradition, regardless of how our society has reacted to this most recent retelling of the basic story idea (Twilight).
(Cut back to the park, the scene is still filtered)
Kyle: So there‘s no need to worry about any accidental connection between this (Beauty and the Beast ) and the worst thing ever made (Twilight).
Jerk: Did Bella (Swan) get her name from Belle?
Kyle: (realizes) I need to go clear my head. (Walks off)
Jerk: Good idea (Walks away too).
(Cut back to Belle’s father’s encounter with Beast, near the beginning of the film)
Belle: And should your daughter refuse to die in you place, swear to return in 3 days. Swear it!
Jerk (v/o): “You have to pinky swear to come back! Pinky Swear!”
(Cut back to Jerk and Kyle with cotton candy, the shot is back to normal.)
Jerk: Child logic?
Kyle: Child logic.
Jerk (v/o): Hey if I’m supposed to use child logic for the magic rules, should I do the same for relationships?
Kyle (v/o): You’re not buying their (1946 Belle and Beast) relationship?
Jerk (v/o): Well, speaking as a “not-child” who’s totally, definitely had “not-child” relationships before, some parts of their romance gets a bit weird.
(Cut to Belle finding Beast at her door, he’s in pain and smoke is coming from his shoulders)
Belle: What are you doing at my door at this hour?
Jerk as Belle: Also, why are you covered blood and on fire?
Kyle (v/o): Well…
Jerk (v/o): There’s no convincing reason for Belle to actually fall for the Beast, at least Disney’s Beast had to save Belle from wolves and improve his personality before she started liking him. Here (The ’46 movie), he’s an awkward loner, who imprisons Belle, he remains an awkward loner and…I guess because awkward loners are “the most beautiful people,” ask any writer (picture of Cocteau is shown), Belle just starts liking him anyway!
Kyle (v/o): Exactly! It’s her story, it’s her journey to accept the Beast as he is! I really love Josette Day’s performance as Belle here. She’s poised, yet gentle with a soft integrity. Sure, she’s written quite passively, but that’s only because the character’s journey is passive. Hollywood loves arcs, but her only arc is learning how to love a kind but ugly man. (Music from the song, “Belle Reprise” from the Disney film plays) And Belle has an arc in the Disney version, which is apparently forgotten after this song. (Sings)
I want adventure in a vaguely big way!
But, really I’ll settle for whatever comes along, it’s not that big a deal (sings quicker to fit in the rest of the sentence), maybe I just want somebody to let me stay inside and read all day!
- To be fair, she wants a life like the books she reads and she gets that living in Beast’s castle. Sure she still reads, but at least she’s found someone who likes that about her as opposed to the villagers who find it weird.
Kyle (v/o): (Music stops) Disney’s Beast has an arc; he’s a prick, then he’s not. But, I don’t think the Beast needs an arc. The entire point of the fairy tale is that he is good; he simply needs to be loved before he can be loveable. Cocteau’s Beast doesn’t have an arc, but he still has conflict, but internal conflict.
Jerk (v/o): For what it’s worth, Cocteau’s Beast is one of the best depictions of isolation and self-loathing I’ve ever seen. I’d say he’s even better written than Belle is.
Kyle (v/o): Well, maybe Cocteau could sympathize. Remember how I mentioned Orpheus? That underworld, that dream world where artists live, is represented here by The Beast’s castle. And, Cocteau’s Beast is sensitive, brooding, steeped in the tradition of the Byronic hero; the Beast is a tortured artist.
(Cut back to Disneyland; at the French Market)
Jerk: (annoyed) Of course he’s a tortured artist! No, wonder French artsy types liked this so much! (Kyle looks around guilty, Jerk notices) French artsy types did like this, didn't they?
Kyle: (Now looks nervous) Cocteau’s relationship with the avant-garde was…complicated.
Kyle (v/o): Lots of people, including me have called Cocteau a surrealist. Hell, the word surrealist first appeared in a review of one of Cocteau’s ballets. But, the surrealists in Paris were a distinct artistic movement run as a collective and they hated Cocteau or at least their leader, Andre Breton, did! When Cocteau’s film, “Blood of a Poet,” was called Surrealist, Cocteau responded: “Surrealism did not exist when I first thought it.” So, you can only imagine how Breton felt having wrote “The Surrealist Manifesto,” 6 year earlier. (We get captions showing the years of release for both. “Blood of a Poet” in 1930 and “The First Surrealist Manifesto.”) Actually, you don’t have to imagine, in a letter to Dada co founder, Tristan Tzara, he (Breton) called Cocteau “The Most Hateful Being Of Our Time.” Like, wow! Hitler was alive when he wrote that! Breton had plenty of reasons for hating Cocteau, one of those being that Breton was a despicable, homophobic bigot and Cocteau… (Cut to a scene in 1946 “Beauty and the Beast” of Avenant chopping wood with his shirt off) well, let’s just say that there’s a reason why this shot is in the movie. Breton also accused Cocteau of taking what he learned from the Dadaists and the surrealists and distilling them into a more traditional form and he was kind of right. Sure, “Blood of a Poet” is pretty strange and directly influenced the likes of underground mavericks like Kenneth Anger, but look at it in context. (Caption at the bottom appears “Thing that you can’t unsee:” and a counts down from 10 to 1) It was made in an art scene that included Man Ray, Luis Bunuel, and Salvador Dali. Sure a man with a mouth on his hand is weird, but people a few theaters down could see (the countdown is finished as we see…) a man SLICING A WOMAN’S EYE BALL IN HALF! Cocteau drew from old myths, old fairy tales, even old styles of filmmaking. Sure, he got a lot of mileage out of playing the film backwards, but that kind of thing was as old as (George) Melies. Still, it was beautiful and it made Cocteau a darling of the French Bourgeoisie for being artsy but not too artsy for them. While anonymous avant-garde Bohemians broke boundaries toiling in obscurity, Cocteau was one of one of the most photographed celebrities in France. In fact some have interpreted that opening text crawl in the movie to be aimed directly at his avant-garde critics, “stop thinking for a bit and lighten up for once!” All because his peers were looking at it and going “*cough*sellout*cough.*”
(Cut back to Disneyland; At Main Street Plaza)
Jerk: Wait, wait, wait! You’re telling me that this movie (1946 “Beauty and the Beast”) was a mainstream hit critics and audiences alike, made by a filmmaker hated by the French artists of his country?
Kyle: (Looking guilty, can’t admit Jerk is right, He turns around to spot the Walt Disney statue behind him.) Maybe.
Jerk: (Glad) Ah ha! I knew this movie wasn’t as haughty as you wanted it to be!
Jerk: But if the two films are so similar, why do you automatically prefer the French…(Realizes, smiles) Wait a minute, don’t answer that, I know exactly why!
(Music from the song “Be Our Guest” from the Disney film plays.)
Kyle: (Still trying to feel haughty) Alright Jerk, educate me. Why!?!
Jerk: Monsieur Kallgren, it is with deepest pride and greatest pleasure that I explain EXACTLY why! (Kyle looks nervous) And now, I invite you to chillax, (Kyle then sits on a nearby bench) let me pull up a care, as America proudly presents...your p0wnage. (Sings)
(Jerk is now at Universal Studios Hollywood at Parisian Courtyard as he emerges from a poll)
‘Cause it’s French
You just like it ‘cause it’s French
Where the cheeses cause diseases with their pestilential stench
Take your stupid Bastille Day
And your rancid ratatouille
(The 2 now walk through out the park) Mon ami
Can’t you see
All their films have such ennui
Oh, monsieur, it makes ze human spirit wrench
It’s just a buncha cryin'
I like my French FRYIN'
It’s not dense,
It’s just French!
That’s just three surrender-monkeys in zat European zoo!
Claude Monet! Rene Descartes!
All the finest wine and cheeses!
Jerk: (Singing while reading a book on “EuroDisney”)
Jerry Lewis is their Jesus.
And the Louvre
Really, what more must I prove?
Oh, my thirst for highest culture they doth quench!
Your points are all unfair
So get your derriere
Up off that bench
Fists are clenched
Cocteau's soul I shall avenge!
Why does art
Freeze your heart
When it's French?
(Cut to Jerk in a dark room with a spotlight lighting him)
You call him artistic
I just call him narcissistic
He cared not for what you thought or what I think
Ah, the line is fine between the artist
And just an artsy-fartsy Barton Fink (some of the movie of the same name to Jerk’s left)
This film is dull and heinous
It's too slow to entertain us!
He cares less about the audience than himself!
Jean Cocteau's a self-indulgent asshole
Now, with that assessment
I could use a nice refreshment!
(Ven Gethenian pops up on his own green screen with Mrs. Potts Behind him. We also inter cut with Kyle and Jerk back at Disneyland.)
Part for me!
Part for me!
I could play the pot of tea!
I can do a British accent and I nearly sing on-key!
At the start
You were smart
When you promised me a part!
Now you’ve left the kettle boiling
And my fury’s hot and broiling
It’s my turn
You will learn
Line producers shan’t be spurned!
I will not let you exclude me from this bit!
Don’t leave me suffering!
Give me a part to sing!
But we just did!
We just did!
That was it.
Ven: (Singing, angry)
That was IT?!
Jerk: ‘Cause it’s French!
‘Cause it’s French!
They surrendered in a trench
They devour filthy molluscs
And their kids, in wine, they drench!
They’re so chic
All those damn “c’est magni-freaks”
But to you pretentious hipsters
French words may as well be scripture!
(Jerk puts on a baret)
To American pig-dogs
Or a teapot with the voice of Judi Dench!
Kyle: That’s Angela Lansbury
Jerk: But that don’t rhyme very
Well with French
Oh so French
Kyle: (Responds in French, no subtitles)
Jerk: (Takes Kyle off screen) Oh, like they care!
(End of Part 2)
Jerk [v/o]: [as Beast] "Do you like my new smoking jacket? Thank you, I'll be here all your life."