Why is Beauty and the Beast so Timeless?
I mentioned here that Beauty and the Beast is “one of the most beloved Disney stories of all time. Cinderella may be more “classic” but is very much a girls’ movie. Beauty and the Beast appeals far more broadly to both male and female.” Why is that? What makes Beauty and the Beast so beloved and so timeless? When something is timeless and classic, it’s enduring for a reason—there is something in it that rings true in our souls. I believe Beauty and the Beast rings true because it so closely resembles the Christian story. Let me explain.
Because of a curse, Eric wasn’t the man he should have been—he was a beast. He was going to stay a beast unless love set him free. Eric’s story is ours. We, too, have been cursed and because of it, we are less than we were created to be.
Belle’s father ends up captive in the Beast’s castle, but Belle comes along (interestingly, she’s an only child) and willingly gives her life for her father’s. While she’s there with the Beast, she begins to see not only who he is, but also who he was meant to be and could still be. Jesus, too, was an only child. He, too, gave His life and willingly left His Father and came and lived on earth with us. He too knew that He was giving up His life; that He came to die. And, like Belle, Jesus saw in us who we were created to be and who we could be… and He loved us.
The Beast learned to love Belle, too, so much so that he was willing to give up his life for hers. When we learn to love Jesus, we give him our life.
Their love started an epic war. There was someone else who loved Belle (Well, he wanted Belle; he only loved himself) and in his jealousy he incited a war between the villagers and the beast. If he couldn’t have Belle, no one could. Our love with Jesus is at the heart of an epic war, too. Jesus has an enemy and since the enemy can’t destroy Jesus, he comes after us, Christ’s love, instead. He doesn’t love us, but he does want us. He loves himself and wants us to worship him just as Gaston wanted Belle to adore him.
Gaston was defeated, but the beast died, too. He died, but then, because of true love, he was resurrected into new life—the human life he was meant to have. The movie ends with a wedding. Our story also ends with a wedding, but just as with Beauty and the Beast, that wedding happens after the defeat of our enemy as well as our death and resurrection. When we give ourselves to Christ, our old man (our beast, if you will, our sin nature) has to die so that we can live in the resurrected life of full humanity that we were always intended to have. All of which is only possible because of the love of Christ and HIS sacrifice for us.
Do you see the parallels? I could go deeper, but surely you get the idea. No wonder we love this story so. It’s our story. It’s our hope. Don’t we all long for that beautiful ideal that someone might see past our anger, our ugliness, our appearance, even our behavior, and see in us something good and loveable? Don’t we also long to see those we love who are living like beasts transform into the humans they are meant to be? We all know those people, those people who are running from the true love of God, convinced no one could ever love them, convinced they are too hideous to love or to save. Maybe you are one of those people. (If I’m honest, I’d have to say there are still parts of me that are.)
It’s not just a cliché; it’s true. Love changes us. We must let the love of Christ in if we are to be free from the curse of sin and death.
Questions for Discussion:
- How does Belle act like Jesus?
- Do you ever feel like the Beast, that no one could really love you? Why or why not?
- Have you ever known someone who may have acted like a beast, but you knew there was a better person inside?
- How does Gaston parallel Satan?
- Have you ever seen anyone change because of love?
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