A stage version of the 1991 film debuted on Broadway on April 18,1994, with the 'live' role of Belle originated by Susan Egan (who would later go on to voice Megara in Hercules) and finalized by Anneliese van der Pol.
In the 2017 live-action remake, Belle is portrayed by Emma Watson (who portrayed as Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter franchise).
Belle is the 5th official Disney Princess.
Development and original concept
When production first started on Beauty and the Beast, Belle's characterization was initially slightly closer to that of the original tale, being slightly timid yet also caring. She also had a sister named Clarice as well as a snobbish aunt named Marguerite (who would have been the movie's equivalent of Belle's wicked sisters from the original tale). However, after the 1989 storyboard reel was presented, then-Disney Chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg ordered for it to be rewritten from scratch, both due to viewing it as too dark and dramatic, and because he envisioned a Broadway-like film with a "feminist twist" to the original tale. To accomplish this, he hired Linda Woolverton, who at the time had just started film screenwriting and her only other experience with Disney was writing some episodes of their various Saturday Morning Cartoons. Woolverton based Belle on Katharine Hepburn's role of Jo March from the film adaptation of the book Little Women, and avoided using the Jean Cocteau film as a template for Belle and the film, even going as far as to avoid seeing the film. She also gave Belle a love of literature to show her open-mindedness. She also made sure to make Belle a feminist in order to have her stand apart from Ariel, as she didn't want "another insipid princess," taking notes from the women's movement to create her character.
Belle has gained a significant amount of intelligence over the years due to her love of books, providing her with an amazing vocabulary, active imagination, and an open mind. She is very confident and outspoken in her opinions, and seldom likes being told what to do. Despite all this, she does not have very many friends due to her smarts and being a free thinker. Unlike most characters in the film, Belle isn't concerned about hers or other's appearances, and is able to look past how people appear and into their hearts. This is how Belle managed to break the Beast's enchantment, and restore love and laughter to the castle.
Belle is somewhat a women's-libber for her time and refuses to be mistreated, undermined, humiliated, demeaned or controlled by any man, especially and specifically Gaston (in fact, he makes it quite clear that his ideal marriage with Belle includes her having "six or seven" good-looking sons with him, massaging his feet, cooking his dinner, scrubbing the floors, doing dirty work and, above all, no reading, as he considers intelligence in women to be ridiculous; this is taken one step further in his song in the musical in which he sings that womankind "occasionally" serves a purpose in marriage, specifically "extending the family tree"). However, Belle willingly listens to, looks up to and admires her father Maurice and considers the opinions and directions of the Beast, because they are both able to treat her as an equal (the Beast eventually learned how throughout the course of the film), while Gaston views Belle and all women of the village as property. She is quite obstinate when it comes to stating her points, upholding her opinions, and maintaining her ideas. Ironically, although she decries Gaston's conceit, she also proved herself to be slightly conceited and condescending in her opening song, where she decried her village as the "provincial life," as well as briefly rolling her eyes when the baker had to interrupt his conversation with Belle to get his coworker Marie to finish up the baguettes. In addition, she briefly referred to the village as being full of "little people" in the same song. Even though Belle had said in the film that she dream in adventure, she has also stated that she also wishes for a friend who accepts her for who she is, because of everyone in town criticize her because of how she does her own thing and they don't understand why. Which makes her feel that she does not fit in but despite this even when people gave her a hard time she never changed, but came to a better understanding of herself; which made the biggest difference by her breaking the spell and charming the Beast just by being herself. In the Disney Comics New Adventures of Beauty and the Beast, set a few years before the events of the first film, Belle was also shown to be slightly misandric in her views, refusing to associate herself with the boys in her village and also implying that she will always consider all men to be no different than pigs (then slightly amending it to exclude her father after the latter jokingly asked their pet pig Pierre if he heard Belle consider him no different than the pig). The same serial also implies that despite her love of fairy tales, she herself did not believe in the supernatural, as when trying to explore a certain part of the Black Forest before encountering an owl, she mentioned in her thoughts she knew there weren't any mythical creatures in there, though despite this Belle did acknowledge a frequent saying by her father about a Dove appearing meant their lives will get better in the Marvel serial.
When she meets the servants and the Beast, she becomes best friends with them, especially Chip and the Beast. She sees Chip as her kid brother and loves him very much.
Belle's personality transforms throughout the film. At first, she frequently dreams about a life of adventure and romance, not realizing that sometimes adventures might take a turn for the worst. As Belle begins to spend more time with the Beast, and their relationship blossoms into a strong friendship, she begins to fall in love with him without realizing it. As she matures during the course of her imprisonment, her love for the Beast breaks the enchantment. Belle realizes that having dreams is great, but sometimes you need to look beyond them and find what you're truly looking for.
Belle is known throughout the village for her beauty, with one villager commenting that it has no parallel, but although she knows it, she isn't vain or concerned about her looks. She is greatly aware that her fellow citizens think of her as "odd" and "peculiar". Belle pays very little attention to her appearance, unlike the very much conceited Gaston, who only wishes to wed her because she is attractive. He cares very little for her personality, her intelligence (he hates the very idea of a woman being smart) or the way she wants to live her life. Belle has long, brown hair, most often tied back in a low ponytail, and possesses captivating hazel eyes, full lips, rosy cheeks, and a sculpted figure. One of her more distinct features are the strands of hair that are constantly slipping loose from her ponytail and falling in front of her face, she is often seen brushing them back into place when nervous or trying to be polite.
Throughout the film, Belle wears various outfits depending on the occasion. Her most elaborate, recognized, iconic, and renowned is her golden ball gown, in which she shares her first dance with the Beast in the "Beauty and the Beast" sequence. With this outfit, she wears some of her hair in a neat bun, but the majority of it trails down her neck in a beautiful, flowing motion, resembling a ponytail.
The story writers and producers of Beauty and the Beast wanted to give Belle's movements an air of elegance, so they studied the movements of ballerinas during the course of Belle's development. Like ballerinas, Belle walks diligently and swiftly on her toes no matter what types of shoes she is wearing, or where she is located. The designers and artists wanted Belle to be more noticeable in a crowd, so they payed extra close attention to her wardrobe, making sure that Belle would be the only member of the town to wear blue, whilst the other townsfolk sported more rustic and earthy colors, such as red, green, orange and brown.
Official character bios
Beauty and the Beast
Far-off places, daring sword fights, a prince in disguise, Belle longs for so much more than a "normal life" in this small, provincial town - a town where girls don't aspire to more than marrying well. Still, adventure is the last thing on her mind when she rides her horse, Philippe, into the forest to find her beloved father, who is missing. Thinking only of her father, she makes a bargain with a Beast who holds her father captive in his castle. Though the Beast now holds the key to Belle's prison, he doesn't have the key to her heart, and her yearning spirit won't be kept prisoner. But after he risks his own life to save hers, she begins to see past his appearance. She realizes that deep inside him there might be something more than she - or he - has ever dreamed.
- Belle's name means beauty, but she often stands out in town because she loves to read. She dreams of adventure in the great wide somewhere and believes there is good in everyone, even the Beast.
- Belle has her own storybook adventure when she finds Beast and the enchanted friends who welcome her to the castle.
Most of Belle's abilities are based on knowledge and intelligence, instead of physical strength.
One of Belle's more obvious abilities is her use of vocabulary. Possibly due to her love of books and constant reading, Belle is able to call out many words off the top of her head and use them in the correct context in order to prove a point or state a fact, such as "primeval" and "provincial". She also was apparently a speed-reader, having managed to complete a book in a short amount of time, which apparently shocked the bookkeeper when she came to return the book.
Belle is quite witty, and is able to use this trait to her advantage and outsmart people. When in an argument with the Beast, Belle was able to hold her ground and challenge each of the Beast's points with a cunning comeback, such as "If you hadn't frightened me I wouldn't have run away", or "You should learn to control your temper." Each of these facts left the Beast stunned and at a loss for words. Belle managed to think of these comebacks without much thought or hesitation. When Lumière and Cogsworth were attempting to lead Belle's curiosity away from the West Wing, she challenged them by saying the West Wing wouldn't be forbidden if the Beast wasn't hiding something in it, also briefly stunning them. Belle's logic may also have helped her save Maurice by realizing that something was going on in the castle that she wanted to find out. Soon, in the West Wing, she is almost able to discover the true identity of the Beast, though she briefly forgets it in the end.
Belle has a strong sense of character, and is able to use this trait in a variety of ways, even to her own advantage. On Belle's first night in the castle, following the "Be Our Guest" sequence, she develops an urge to explore the castle, and asks for a guide. Observing Cogsworth's "authoritative" personality, she immediately knows that Cogsworth would be the best candidate. At first, Cogsworth is quite reluctant of the idea, but when Belle says she's sure he knows everything about the castle, he agrees. Similarly, she also has a strong sense of deductive reasoning, as she deduced from the animate objects' interactions that the castle she was imprisoned at was enchanted, and without anyone telling her beforehand, as well as her being implied to have deduced Gaston's true role in locking Maurice up. This, however, was contradicted in the final moments of the film, where she exposed the Beast's existence to a congregated mob despite the high likelihood that they would turn and kill the Beast due to their current emotional state, as well as Gaston being very likely to try to kill the Beast under even the slightest hint that she might love the Beast more than him.
Although Belle is quite ignorant of her own beauty, she does somewhat manage to use her feminine charm to her advantage. When Gaston proposed to Belle, she pretended to be clueless and at a loss for words, however, she was secretly leading Gaston toward the door, and when cornered against it, opened it and sent him flying into a mud pond, taking some amusement upon doing so before throwing his boots out after him.
Although Belle displays few athletic abilities, she is able to ride a horse at quite stunning speeds with ease and skill, and subconsciously navigate her way through a crowded street while reading, without colliding with any other people or objects (although having several near-misses), at one point even deflecting water that was about to pour on top of her while she was reading without once looking up. She also has enough strength to not only break free of Xaldin's hold, but also stun him with an elbow to the gut. She also may have had enough strength to lift the Beast, as evidenced by the Beast being placed onto Philippe (although how she was able to put him on Philippe's back was never shown on-screen). Later on, she was able to pull the Beast up on to a balcony. In addition, she also was revealed to have rescued her dad from the elements and presumably place him onto Maurice while the latter was still out cold despite his being far larger than her in terms of weight.
It is made quite obvious in the early chapters of the film that Belle has a beautiful singing voice, courtesy of Broadway actress and singer Paige O'Hara.
Belle is a young woman living in a small unnamed village in France. She first appears at the beginning of the film (after the prologue) as she emerges out of the cottage she lives in and heads to a bookstore in the village, aware that the villagers are noting her peculiarity and how she doesn't fit in with the rest of them due to her love of books and withdrawn nature. At the bookstore, Belle returns a book she has borrowed and takes the one she perceives as her favorite. While heading back home to the cottage, she is pursued by a conceited, arrogant, muscle-headed hunter named Gaston, who eventually stands in her way. Gaston takes the book from Belle, drops it into a mud puddle, and tells Belle to get herself out of reading and pay more attention to "more important things" like him. Just then, an explosion comes out from the basement of her cottage, prompting Belle to run back home.
Descending into the basement and coughing her way in, Belle finds her father, Maurice, who is about to give up on his latest contraption that he has built. Belle faithfully tells her father how she has believed he will get the machine working, win first prize at the fair, and become a world-famous inventor. Inspired by his daughter's beliefs, Maurice reworks on the machine, and once he thinks he has done fixing it, he gives it a test run. To both Belle and her father's surprise, the test run goes successfully. Belle waves goodbye to her father and wishes him luck as Maurice, riding on their horse Philippe, goes off to the fair with the invention.
The following day, Belle hears a knock on a door. She uses the periscope, only to find that Gaston was at the porch, much to her dismay, but nevertheless lets him in. Gaston reveals to Belle that he wants to make her his little wife and the mother of seven handsome little boys; Belle is disgusted by this idea and slips away from Gaston, who continues to approach her. As Gaston has Belle cornered at the door and is about to plant a kiss on her, Belle opens the door, causing Gaston to fall into a large mud pond outside. After a furious and humiliated Gaston leaves the cottage, Belle goes outside to feed the chickens, shocked in disbelief at how Gaston has asked her to marry him. Not wanting to be the wife of that boorish, brainless man, she runs off into an open field, where Philippe finds her. Seeing the horse without her father, Belle pleads the horse to take her to where her father is.
Belle is later taken on a tour by the head butler, Cogsworth and his assistant Lumiere. They decide to show Belle their library but Belle's curiosity of the West Wing makes her go into the forbidden room. There she sees a torn picture of a young man and a glowing rose. She takes the glass off the rose and tries to touch it. However, the Beast arrives and ruthlessly scolds Belle out of fury. Terrified, Belle escapes the castle and runs away. There, she and her horse encounter a pack of frightening and savage wolves, but the Beast arrives and rescues her. Belle then returns the favor by bringing him back to the castle after he collapsed due to exhaustion and his wounds from saving her, although they then got into an argument while she was tending to his wounds in the den about who was at fault, with Belle winning the argument. She then briefly thanks the Beast for saving her afterwards.Belle rides to a mysterious castle on Philippe in possibility of finding her father. She finds her father locked away in a dungeon, and begs the dungeon master to free him, offering her own freedom in exchange for her father's. On the condition that she stay with him forever, the dungeon master, a hideous beast, frees Maurice from the dungeon, however he is deeply moved by her beauty and affection towards her father, and can't help but feel touched by her boldness and bravery.
As a token of his appreciation, the Beast, at Lumiere's suggestion gives Belle his enormous library (although beforehand when he told her to close her eyes as it was a surprise, she briefly glared at him with suspicion, implying that even after being saved from the wolves, she didn't entirely trust him). In return, Belle helps him act more like a gentleman. The Beast falls deeply in love with her, but fears that she will never love him in return. When he is to reveal his feelings for her, Belle is soon granted right to leave on behalf of her sickly father, who tries to rescue her. But after denying Gaston her hand in marriage again and exposing the Beast's existence to save her father from being taken to the insane asylum by a mob of villagers orchestrated by Gaston (even though the villagers were in a mob-type position), the mob attacks the Beast out of fear of the village's safety (and Gaston out of jealousy for the implication that Belle loves the Beast more than himself).
- Belle met Pooh and his friends in Pooh's Adventures of Beauty and the Beast.
- Belle met Simba and his friends in Simba, Timon, and Pumbaa's Adventures of Beauty and the Beast.
- Belle met the Fantasy Adventure team in Benny, Leo and Johnny's Adventures of Beauty and the Beast.
- Belle met Danny and his friends in Danny's Adventures of Beauty and the Beast.
- Belle met Yogi Bear and his gang in Yogi Bear's Adventures of Beauty and the Beast.
- Belle met Thomas, Twilight Sparkle and their friends and Luke in Thomas' Adventures of Beauty and the Beast.
- Belle met the FT Squad in The FT Squad's Adventures in Beauty and the Beast.
- Belle will meet Ash, Littlefoot, and their friends in Ash's Adventures of Beauty and the Beast.
- Belle will meet Alex and his friends in Alex's Adventures of Beauty and the Beast.
- Belle will meet TIno and his friends in Tino's Adventures of Beauty and the Beast.
- Belle will meet Bloom and her friends in Bloom's Adventures of Beauty and the Beast.
- Belle will meet the members of Team Lightyear in Team Lightyear's Adventures of Beauty and the Beast.
- Belle was seen briefly in both versions of Winnie The Pooh In Fantasmic! and Winnie the Pooh's World of Color.
- Belle made her first guest appearance in a Winnie the Pooh crossover in Pooh's Adventures of The Princess Diaries.
- In Danny meets Cinderella, a letter was given to Danny and his friends at the beginning of the film, soon it was revealed that Cinderella is Belle's cousin.
- Belle will guest star again in Pooh's Adventures of The Future is Wild, the Winnie the Pooh/Black Stallion films, Pooh's Adventures of The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement, Pooh's Adventures of Memoirs of a Geisha, Winnie the Pooh Goes to Prom, and Pooh's Adventures of Ice Princess.
- Belle will meet Barney and friends in Barney's Adventures of Beauty and the Beast (Full Movie).
- In Barney and The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea, she's revealed to be Princess Melody's godmother.
- Belle will meet Nighlock and Red Smoke in Nighlock and Red Smoke in Kingdom Hearts.
- Belle will make her first guest appearance in a Pokemon crossover film in Ash Ketchum Meets Thumbelina.