‘Beauty and the Beast’ is one of the most famous Disney Princess movies, and considering that it is basically an adaptation of ancient Greek stories, it’s been adapted by many filmmakers around the world in various settings. However, today, we are interested in the setting of the most famous adaptation, and here’s what we dug up.
‘Beauty and the Beast’ setting explained
Despite all the visual cues presented in the movie, it’s not at all easy to determine the precise timeline of the movie. But considering everything, we can draw a conclusion that it takes place anytime between 1790 and 1800s. Why? Let’s see…
The first clue is the Beast’s royalty status. In order for the Beast to be considered a royal, France needs to be a monarchy, and using common sense, this means that the story needs to take place sometime before the French Revolution. The French Revolution took place between May 5, 1789 – Nov 9, 1799.
This goes hand in hand with the fact that the common folk we see throughout the movie don’t seem to be bothered by the king and his actions.
The second huge clue is the clothing. The Beast and Gaston’s dress suggests they are wearing tailcoats, which were popular in the late 1790s. The girls shown in the movie are dressed in long skirts, the empire waist, and an overall look that fits the period’s fashion. Aside from Belle’s yellow dress, the fact that there are no poofy sleeves or big skirts is typical for women’s fashion of the time.
The third clue is the architecture. The architecture shown in the scenes, especially the castle, has certain elements that point to the fact that the style of the Beast’s castle was either Rococo or Baroque. This is indicated by the over-the-top decorative elements of the architecture.
Considering the fact that the castle was built before the events of the movie take place and both Rococo and Baroque took place in the 17 and 18th centuries, this would make sense with the given time period.
The fourth clue comes in the form of technology, which can be seen in the movie.
The first and the most obvious one comes from the steam-powered machine.
The machine existed since the early years of the 1700s, which would seem to be an issue given the time frame we set for the movie. However, steam-powered machines were extremely rare upon their invention and could be found in factories exclusively.
The fact that Belle’s father has one will only make sense if the story takes place sometime closer to the end of the 1700s, which would make sense with the time frame we set.
This time period also works for the pistol Gaston owns. It is also a blunderbuss, and they were in use from the beginning until the middle of the 1800s.
There is one conflicting piece of evidence, however…
The only conflicting piece of evidence regarding the time frame is actually a big one. During the performance of the song called ‘Be Our Guest,’ we get a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower.
This would not work with the time frame we already determined since it finished the construction in 1889 and that would be a long time after what we predicted for the story’s timeframe.
However, since this is the only piece of the movie that doesn’t fit the narrative, we could chuck it to Disney for not checking all of the facts well enough, as the construction work began in January 1887 and was finished on March 31, 1889.
When does the live-action ‘Beauty and the Beast’ take place?
The timeline of the 2017 live-action “Beauty and the Beast” remains intentionally ambiguous, making it challenging to pinpoint the era. However, actor Luke Evans, who plays Gaston, suggested in an interview that his character fought off Portuguese marauders at the age of 16 in 1740.
Assuming Gaston is in his mid-30s in the film, it could imply a setting around the 1760s. Despite this hint, the overall timeframe of the movie remains unclear, with no additional clues to solidify a specific time period.
‘Beauty and the Beast’ takes place in a small provincial town
Beauty’s quaint provincial town, a central setting in the story, is inspired by the charming French villages of Riquewihr and Ribeauvillé in Disney’s 1992 animated adaptation. In the 2017 film, the town is modeled after the French Medieval village of Conques.
The Beast’s castle, nestled in a wild French forest, plays a significant role. Its exterior exudes darkness, while the interior reflects a warmer and inviting ambiance, mirroring the Beast’s character. The grand Renaissance castle, Château de Chambord in the Loire Valley, serves as the inspiration for Disney’s classic rendition of the Beast’s castle.
What was the ‘Beauty and the Beast’ story based on?
The tale of Beauty and the Beast has a rich literary history, potentially rooted in the ancient legend of Cupid and Psyche from Apuleius’ second-century AD novel, Metamorphoses. Often considered the first-ever fairy tale, this myth serves as a precursor to the well-known story.
The most popular version, notably adapted by Disney, is based on Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont’s abridged tale. Published in 1756 as “La Belle et La Bête,” Beaumont streamlined characters and condensed the narrative into the classic fairy tale we recognize today. Her modifications also touched on the social and political issues of 18th-century France.
Beaumont’s rendition introduces the Beast as a young prince who, after resisting the advances of an evil fairy, is transformed into a beast. Belle, originally the daughter of a king and a good fairy, is substituted for a merchant’s daughter to protect her from the malevolent fairy’s threat.
Interestingly, some historians believe the tale is inspired by the real-life story of Petrus Gonsalvus, who suffered from hypertrichosis, also known as the “werewolf disease.” King Henry II educated Petrus, turning him into a gentleman, and eventually arranged his marriage to Catherine. Despite their unique circumstances, the couple spent almost 40 years together and had seven children, four of whom inherited their father’s condition.
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