Overanalysing film: Part 1

January 11, 2012 § Leave a comment

Written in October of 2010, this post should be fairly self explanatory, I really like the movie Beauty and the Beast, and so I though I should be stupid about it.  Enjoy the first part of my ridiculous over-analysis.

While recently thinking about an inconsistency (really just a logical fail) in a movie recently, I began to wonder about the time period it is set in.  The movie is an animation, and does not explicitly say at what period it is supposed to be set, leaving it up to the viewers to gather that for themselves.  The problem?  A bookshop.  The movie?  Beauty and the Beast (manly, I know).  With this in mind, I decided to work out when the movie is set the hard way, by relying on things shown, and to not extend beyond the movie itself (as in, to the story it is based on).

First things first, the use of a prince.  By stating that the Beast is a prince, we can gather a very rough idea of when the movie is supposed to be set.  Since it is obvious that he is not in direct line for the French throne, we can assume that he is prince over a smaller area.  This means that the movie is set either prior to the French revolution (so 1789 or earlier, ignoring the fact that the monarchy was not officially over until 1792), or at some point  between the formation of the first empire (1802) and the fall of the second empire (1870, again, ignoring a little bit in the middle where there was the second French republic).

Secondly, the character Gaston reveals a lot about the setting.  Ignoring the fact that he is really a sexist time traveller*, the weapons he uses reveal quite a lot.  His gun features a flintlock firing system, a mechanism that was invented around the beginning of the 17th century.  Given that he still has a bow and arrow with him, and that they seem to be the standard in the town, we can assume that this puts it near the beginning of their lifespan, so probably somewhere between 1600-1650 (flintlock muskets were the standard for European armies between about 1660 and 1840, if they were used as a common soldiers weapon then there would most likely be more found in the village than just the one)

As such, the movie is most likely set somewhere between about 1600 and 1650, and you have learned absolutely nothing from reading this.

*In the interests of padding out, I will explain.  In the song “Me” from the stage version of Beauty and the Beast, Gaston sings “Each one stuffed with every Gaston Gene”.  Those with access to wikipedia and a strong desire to procrastinate among us will know that the term “Gene” was not coined until 1909 by Wilhelm Johannsen, the Danish Botanist.  This has given rise to the theory (by me, god, I hope no-one else has overthought this much before) that Gaston is in fact from a much more modern time, and that he went back in time so that he could be in a place where his sexism and small minded nature would be accepted by the untaught people.

Tune in at some possible point in the future if I can ever be bothered for part two, where I will pose some questions about the legitimacy of the bookshop, and then answer my questions in a way that makes it seem as if I hadn’t already worked this out weeks ago.


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