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Belle (Beauty and the Beast) facts for kids

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Beauty and the Beast character
Belle disney.png
Belle as she appears in Disney's Beauty and the Beast.
First appearance Beauty and the Beast (1991)
Created by Linda Woolverton
Portrayed by
Voiced by
Based on Beauty from the Gabrielle-Suzanne de Villeneuve's fairy tale
Affiliation Disney Princesses
Family Maurice (father)
Spouse(s) Beast
Children Ben (Descendants)
Nationality French

Belle is a fictional character in Walt Disney Pictures' 30th animated feature film Beauty and the Beast (1991). Originally voiced by American actress and singer Paige O'Hara, Belle is the non-conforming daughter of an inventor, who yearns to abandon her predictable village life in return for adventure. When her father Maurice is imprisoned by a cold-hearted beast, Belle offers him her own freedom in exchange for her father's, and eventually learns to love the Beast despite his unsightly outward appearance.

Walt Disney Studios chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg commissioned Beauty and the Beast as an animated musical with a strong heroine and hired first-time screenwriter Linda Woolverton to write it. Basing her on the heroine of Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont's 1756 fairy tale "Beauty and the Beast", Woolverton adapted Belle into a stronger and less passive character for the film. Inspired by the women's rights movement, Woolverton wanted Belle to be a unique Disney heroine different from The Little Mermaid's popular Ariel, and thus deliberately conceived the character as a feminist in an effort to avoid the criticism Disney had long been receiving due to the studio's reputation of depicting its female characters as victims.

Belle's strength and love of reading was inspired by American actress Katharine Hepburn's performance as Jo March in the film Little Women (1933), while the writers instilled the adventure-seeking heroine with goals and aspirations beyond romance. However, the story artists and animators often contested Woolverton's liberated vision for the character. Animated by James Baxter and Mark Henn, the former of whom based the character's graceful gait on those of impressionist Edgar Degas' ballerinas, Belle's European facial features were inspired by those of British actresses Vivien Leigh and Audrey Hepburn. Several additional Hollywood actresses inspired Belle's appearance, including Natalie Wood, Elizabeth Taylor, and Grace Kelly.

Belle has garnered widespread acclaim from film critics who appreciated the character's bravery, intelligence and independence. Reception towards her feminism, however, has been more mixed, with commentators accusing the character's actions of being romance-oriented. The fifth Disney Princess, Belle is often ranked among the franchise's best. Highly regarded as one of Disney's strongest examples of a feminist character, critics agree that Belle helped spearhead a generation of independent film heroines while changing the reputation of a Disney princess. Also one of Disney's most iconic characters, Belle was the only animated heroine nominated for the American Film Institute's greatest heroes in film ranking. The character also appears in the film's several sequels and spin-offs, as well as her own live-action television series. American actress Susan Egan originated the role of Belle in the Broadway musical adaptation of the film, for which she was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical. Emma Watson played a live-action version of the character in the 2017 live-action adaptation of the original 1991 film.


Film and television

Belle debuted in Beauty and the Beast (1991) as a beautiful bibliophile who, although praised by her fellow villagers for her unrivaled beauty, is at the same time ridiculed for her intelligence and non-conformity. Having grown weary of her uneventful provincial life, in which she is relentlessly romantically pursued by an arrogant hunter named Gaston, Belle longs for adventure. After her father's horse returns without its rider, she willingly ventures into the woods in search of her father. She persuades the Beast that she will trade her own freedom in return for her father's, since her father is ill in the dungeon, promising to remain with the Beast in his castle among his staff of enchanted objects forever. Belle's curiosity leads her to the forbidden west wing where she discovers an enchanted rose without realizing that it is tied to the Beast's fate; and the Beast's rage at her trespassing causes her to flee the castle on horseback. Belle is pursued by wolves in the woods but they are driven off by the Beast, afterwards Belle helps the injured Beast back to the castle and nurses him back to health. Although she initially dislikes her captor, Belle gradually learns to accept the Beast in spite of his appearance and eventually befriends him. Belle and the Beast's strong bond greatly envies Gaston to the point of which he storms the castle and mortally wounds the Beast, though Gaston falls to his own death in the process. However, Belle breaks down and confesses her love for the Beast just in time to break the spell under which he had been placed by an enchantress as punishment for his selfish ways, and the Beast ultimately transforms back into a handsome prince.

In Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas (1997), Belle attempts to reignite the castle's waning spirit by reintroducing and celebrating Christmas, in spite of the Beast's strong resentment towards the holiday. Meanwhile, a solemn pipe organ named Forte grows determined to sabotage Belle and the Beast's burgeoning friendship because he longs to maintain his co-dependent relationship with his master. Tricked by Forte into retrieving a large Christmas tree from a frozen pond, Belle nearly drowns, only to be rescued by the Beast. The Beast, however, having been misinformed by Forte, wrongly accuses Belle of trying to escape again, and locks her in the dungeon as punishment. When the Beast finally discovers the truth, they forgive each other, and Belle helps him thwart Forte's plan to destroy the castle. Beauty and the Beast: Belle's Magical World (1998), depicts Belle as she interacts with both the Beast and his enchanted servants in various segments, exploring themes such as forgiveness, friendship, cooperation and respect.

In Belle's Tales of Friendship (1999), a spin-off of the film series, Belle owns a bookstore in which she teaches valuable lessons to children by reading and retelling well-known stories and fairy tales, narrating four Disney animated shorts: The Three Little Pigs (1933), Peter and the Wolf (1946), The Wise Little Hen (1934) and Morris the Midget Moose (1950). For the first time, Belle appears as both animated and live-action versions of herself, voiced and portrayed by actresses Paige O'Hara and Lyndsey McLeod, respectively. In the television series Sing Me a Story with Belle (1995–1996), Belle, in a role reprised by McLeod, owns her own music and bookshop, where she is visited by children to whom she tells and sings stories.

Belle appeared in the animated television series Disney's House of Mouse and its direct-to-video films Mickey's Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mouse and Mickey's House of Villains. In the television series, Belle is voiced by American actress and singer Jodi Benson, while O'Hara reprises her role in the film.

A live-action version of Belle appears as a main character in the ABC television series Once Upon a Time, where she serves as the love interest of Rumplestiltskin (who is the show's version of the Beast). She is portrayed by Australian actress Emilie de Ravin. Another live-action version of the character appeared in the 2015 television film Descendants, where she was played by Keegan Connor Tracy and serves as the Queen of the United States of Auradon. The series Sofia the First included a cameo by Belle in a 2013 episode. British actress Amy Jackson who portrayed as Belle opposite Indian actor Vikram, who being portrayed as Beast for sequences in a dreamy song "Ennodu Nee Irundhal" in the 2015 Tamil language romantic thriller "I". The original prosthetic make-up for the characters were provided by Sean Foot (Shaun) and Davina Lamont and additional works were done by National Film Award winners—Christien Tinsley and Dominie Till.

Beauty and the Beast (2017 film)

Emma Watson 2013
English actress Emma Watson portrays Belle in the 2017 live-action version of the film.

In January 2015, Emma Watson announced that she would be portraying Belle in a live-action version of the film, which was released in 2017. Beauty and the Beast was the first of the Disney remakes in which an A-list actress portrays a Disney princess. As a feminist and model, Watson suggested several changes to the character in the live-action film. For the costume design, Watson rejected the traditional "big princess dress" and corset for the golden gown as that would have reduced her mobility, with the gown seen as crucial for marketing the film, while for the village scenes she requested boots instead of ballet slippers to give the character more ruggedness. Nonetheless Belle's attire in the live-action remake largely stays true to its animated predecessor.

Thanks to Watson's influence, Belle is not only a bookworm but also an inventor like her father – she uses her inventions for everyday chores such as laundry, which in turn provides her with time to pursue her passion for reading. It is also revealed that Belle's mother died of a disease plague during Belle's infancy, consequently Maurice is somewhat overprotective of Belle and does not allow her to leave the village. For instance, Maurice creates "music boxes playing tunes from faraway places, in a bid to sate her thirst for exploration", as he is unwilling to let Belle be adventurous due to her mother's death, although Belle harbors no hard feelings about this. Watson's portrayal of Belle won her the MTV Movie Award for Best Performance at the 2017 MTV Movie & TV Awards and the Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie Actress – Sci-Fi/Fantasy at the 2017 Teen Choice Awards. She also received nominations for the Empire Award for Best Actress, the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Award for "Favorite Movie Actress" and the Saturn Award for Best Actress.

Broadway musical

Belle appeared in the Broadway musical adaptation of Beauty and the Beast. The role was originated by actress Susan Egan, who was initially reluctant to audition for Beauty and the Beast because she "thought it was a terrible idea for Disney to put a cartoon on Broadway." However, her agent managed to convince her otherwise, and Egan ultimately turned down callbacks for roles in the musicals My Fair Lady, Carousel and Grease in favor of starring as Belle in Beauty and the Beast because she had always wanted to originate a Broadway role. Egan had never watched Beauty and the Beast prior to her audition, relying solely on "her own creative instincts" instead. Egan's performance earned her a Tony Award nomination for Best Actress in a Musical at the 48th Tony Awards. A total of seventeen actresses have portrayed Belle in the Broadway musical, among them recording artists Debbie Gibson and Toni Braxton, The Sopranos' Jamie-Lynn Sigler, and Disney Channel alumnae Christy Carlson Romano and Anneliese van der Pol, the latter of whom became Broadway's final Belle when the show ended its thirteen-year-long run in 2007. Actress Sarah Litzsinger remains Broadway's longest-running Belle.

A best-selling R&B singer, Braxton made her Broadway debut when she was cast as Belle in 1998, turning down actress Halle Berry's role in the film Why Do Fools Fall In Love (1998). Braxton's desire to pursue an acting career stemmed from a series of conflicts with the singer's record label at the time, in turn making her the only African American to portray Belle in the show's history. Belle's ballad "A Change in Me" was written by songwriters Alan Menken and Tim Rice specifically for Braxton. However, the song was ultimately so well-received that it has been included in the musical ever since. During her tenure as Belle, Braxton was stalked by an "obsessed fan." The stalker had reportedly "bombarded" Braxton with threatening e-mails and letters. Several measures were taken to ensure the singer's safety, including forcing Braxton to dress in full disguise when traveling to and from the theatre in addition to reducing her total number of weekly performances from eight to seven. The stalker was eventually arrested and charged with "aggravated harassment."


Belle along with Beast and Chip appeared at the 64th Academy Awards as presenters for Best Animated Short Feature. She also makes a brief cameo appearance in Disney's 34th animated feature film The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) during the "Out There" musical sequence.

She was featured as one of the seven Princesses of Heart in the Kingdom Hearts video game series.

Belle was also the main character in various comic books based on the film, including one set during Belle's stay at the castle published by Marvel Comics, and a prequel set several years before the film distributed by Disney Comics. In the former, the storylines generally have the servants trying to coax Belle into doing something with the Beast, only for it to backfire and nearly ruin their friendship before they make up. In the latter serial, Belle ends up locked up in a cellar by village children after reluctantly playing pirates with them, and later nearly goes down the path leading to Beast's castle. The latter serial also implies that she holds misandric views and refuses to associate herself with the village children, especially the males, due to their not being as well-versed in literature as she.

Belle and the other characters from the first movie appear in the stage show, Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage at Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World. Belle along with the Beast appears in a meet-and-greet attraction at Magic Kingdom's Fantasyland called Enchanted Tales with Belle, along with meet-and-greets in all of the other parks worldwide. In season 18 of Dancing With the Stars, Danica McKellar played Belle while performing a Quickstep on a Disney themed episode. Ginger Zee and Edyta Śliwińska also both portrayed Belle while performing a Foxtrot and Waltz respectively during the Disney night episode of the 22nd season of Dancing with the Stars. Emma Slater then played Belle while dancing a Foxtrot during the Disney theme night of the show's 24th season.

Belle, alongside other Disney Princesses, appeared in the film Ralph Breaks the Internet, as was announced at the 2017 D23 Expo, with Paige O'Hara returning to the role after seven years.

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See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Bella (Disney) para niños

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