Disney movies through time have given us some great stories such as Aladdin, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and The Lion King among others, even though I love these timeless classics my favorite of them all is Beauty and the Beast.
Through the numerous times that I have watched this movie, I am truly fascinated by every element that goes into the making of this classic from the characters, the colors, the lighting position, the camera angle and most importantly the impact that it has on the viewers. Disney has over time differentiated their overall theme and character in every movie; each movie is set in a particular era which is why the characters personify the values and behavior of that set time. If we analyze the present Disney movies and compare them to that of 20 years ago, we will notice a significant change in characters of men and women; this is because they portray society during the different periods in which they were written.
The total number of male characters in this particular movie is about 5 and each of those characters is quite distinct from one and another. Even though some of the characters are overly stereotyped, through their appearance and behavioral traits they send out a message to the audience. The Beast is portrayed in a dark lighting, with low camera angles making him look scary and big. He is very hostile, dominating, aggressive, rude and a recluse because of his physical appearance. Later when the spell breaks and turns into a prince he becomes confident, romantic and very polite. The overall role of the men in the lead roles is portrayed as dominating and overpowering. Even their physical build relates to their character, they are muscular, enormously huge, long brown hair, blue eyes and husky voice, all of this signifies their authoritative power as men. When young boys watch such a clearly defined role of what it means to be a man in society, they are deeply influenced.
Through Disney movies the media portrays women as slender, doe-eyed, lustrous long hair, unrealistically curvaceous and vulnerable young women who are dependent on male figures for survival and strength. The women in this movie are portrayed as submissive and a commodity in a patriarchal society. They are like possessions, from being owned by the father to being the possession of another male, in this case the beast/prince. Through this depiction of women, the media is stereotyping women as objects, which in turn creates a very low expectation for the women in society today.
These characters are role models to the viewers that watch Disney Movies especially children, they observe the gender stereotype behavior in such movies wherein males are supposed to use forceful behavior while females are submissive to their orders.
The concept of fictional beauty is related to what women are supposed to look like in society. Anything from being fat, to having pimples or being short is thought of as average or unattractive, on the other hand a woman or a girl straight out of a Disney movie is considered as beautiful. This type of rating and measurement of beauty is very subjective; it is shallow and extremely unrealistic. Media’s portrayal of both men and women affects the self-image of growing children. Numerous studies have shown that Disney’s stereotype of male and female character are rather generalized; the focus on the perfect male body image and passive but beautiful female stereotypes have significantly affected children’s thinking.
Therefore in conclusion, in my overall analysis of Beauty and the Beast I have found that the male characters symbolize power and authority which is clearly visible through their physical appearance. The women on the other hand are portrayed as charming objects that no matter how smart they are (in Belle’s case) would still need a man’s guidance.