You Can Ring My Belle.

From Disney’s Dreams Come True: The Art of Disney’s Classic Fairytales:

“Arthur Rackham, the famed British illustrator of children’s fairytale books, said that there is no doubt that ‘we should be behaving ourselves very differently if Beauty had never been united to her Beast.’

“In Belle, Disney had its first independent female character, one who enjoyed reading and learning, and who lived her life according to her standards. Longing for substance in her life, she shunned the vacuous Gaston, over whom all the other ladies in town swooned. Belle’s genuine selflessness also distinguished her from the other women in town, including, most particularly, the ladies who pursued Gaston.

“While anyone else would have been overcome with fear, Belle’s devotion to her father gave her the courage to stay alone with the fearsome Beast in his remote castle.

“Her strong will earned the respect and devotion of the Beast.”

While some would say the Beast is the Disney equivalent to an emotionally abusive boyfriend (watch this space), this description of Belle shows that you have to love yourself before someone else will.

Plus, it proves that Belle is the most bitchin’ of the Disney princesses.

Related: Drug of Choice: The Disney Heroine.

Women in Fiction: My Favourite Fictional Females.

Women in Fiction: Are Our Favourite Fictional Females Actually Strong, or Stereotypes?

The Representation of Trees in the World of Walt Disney.

Drug of Choice: The Disney Heroine.

Last weekend’s The Age supplement, A2, was jammed packed full of goodness , including a feature on the recent spate of fairytale-inspired exhibitions.

One of the exhibitions talked about in the article is the Bendigo Art Gallery’s “Looking for Faeries: The Victorian Tradition”, which I saw yesterday, and ACMI’s “Dreams Come True: The Art of Disney’s Classic Fairy Tales”, about the fairytales adapted for the screen by Walt Disney, with the groundbreaking (for the time) Snow White & the Seven Dwarves being a key component.

As you know, I can’t get enough of my Disney princesses, especially the constant discourse surrounding their affect on young girls, so this passage from the article took my fancy:

“In the past, and particularly in the 1950s, Disney fairytale heroes and, above all, heroines, were insubstantial figures, despite their predicaments, and energy and comedy were provided by the sidekicksthe dwarves in Snow White, for example. You can see a change in 1991’s witty, thoroughly engaging Beauty & the Beast: Belle was a more dynamic heroine than Snow White, and there was a character in the film who thought he was a handsome prince, but definitely wasn’tthe vain and vicious Gaston.

“[Tangled producer Roy] Conli credits John Lasseter, producer, director and chief creative officer at Disney/Pixar, for an insistence that central characters have to be the emotional and the comic core of a film. So, Rapunzel, the girl with 20 metres of blonde hairwho has been shut up in a tower her whole life, or, “like, grounded, like, forever”isn’t simply set free, end of story. In Tangled, she has a male counterpart, a foil, he says, a worldly, dashing thief called Flynn Rider whose adventure of discovery takes place alongside hers.

“… Whatever we make of these new fairytale dynamics, whether we regard them as retrograde or progressive, misguided or inventive… fairytales are often more appealing to adults than children.”

Perhaps that’s why I still can’t get enough of Belle… and it’s nice to see a modern-day Rapunzel adopting, like, a modern-day vernacular.

Related: Women in Fiction: Are Our Favourite Fictional Females Actually Strong, or Stereotypes?

Elsewhere: [Bendigo Art Gallery] Looking for Faeries: The Victorian Tradition.

[Australian Centre for the Moving Image] Dreams Come True: The Art of Disney’s Classic Fairy Tales.