Original ‘Beauty And The Beast’ Is A Metaphor For AIDS Battle

The revelation that Beauty And The Beast will include Disney’s first ever openly gay character has only helped to increase excitement towards the live-action remake. Which is rather impressive since it was already being touted as one of the most anticipated films of 2017.

Director Bill Condon confirmed to Attitude that Josh Gad’s Le Fou is Disney’s first homosexual character, while during the same interview he alluded to one of the reasons why the decision was made to make this step. That’s because the filmmaker also opened up about the history of Disney and Beauty And The Beast, explaining how the 1991 incarnation owes a huge debt to lyricist Howard Ashman.

Howard Ashman, who previously found fame with the musicals God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, and Little Shop Of Horrors, worked on The Little Mermaid with his working partner Alan Menken, before he was then asked to write the music for Beauty And The Beast, too.

“Disney had been developing Beauty and the Beast for decades. But there was a specific version they were working on developing in the Eighties. On the heels of The Little Mermaid they showed it to [composer] Alan Menken and Howard Ashman.”

[Image by Disney]

However, just before being asked by Disney to work his wonders on Beauty And The Beast Howard Ashman learned that he had AIDS. Howard Ashman decided to use the complex feelings and trauma that he was going through at the time as a foundation for his work on Beauty And The Beast, which at first saw him insist that the character of Beast should be on an even keel with Belle.

Before Howard Ashman’s involvement, Beauty And The Beast was seen mostly from Belle’s point of view. With the character of Beast having been brought to the fore, Howard Ashman was able to use his own plight with AIDS as an allegory for the Beast’s troubles.

“Ashman had just found out he had Aids, and it was his idea, not only to make it into a musical but also to make Beast one of the two central characters; until then it had mostly been Belle’s story that they had been telling. And specifically for him it was a metaphor for Aids. He was cursed and this curse had brought sorrow on all those people who loved him and maybe there was a chance for a miracle and a way for the curse to be lifted. It was a very concrete thing that he was doing.”

Howard Ashman never actually saw Beauty And The Beast released into cinemas, as he sadly died from complications due to the illness on March 14, 1991, just a couple of months before the film was released in cinemas on November 22, 1991.

Since we’re now less than two weeks away from the release of the new Beauty And The Beast, further details regarding Josh God’s depiction of LeFou and how Bill Condon and his creative team have approached including Disney’s first gay character have been steadily emerging.

[Image by Disney]

During the same discussion, Condon, who himself is openly gay, insisted that LeFou has “a nice, exclusively gay moment” in the Disney film. He also provided a more in-depth description of the character, remarking, “LeFou is somebody who one one day wants to be Gaston, and on another day wants to kiss Gaston. He’s confused about what he wants. It’s somebody who’s just realizing that he has these feelings. And Josh makes something really subtle and delicious out of it.”

Meanwhile, Josh Gad has also opened up about his interpretation of LeFou at the premiere for Beauty And The Beast, calling his portrayal “subtle” but “effective,” but he did insist that “there was nothing in the script that said ‘LeFou is gay.'”

We’ll finally get to see what Bill Condon and the Beauty And The Beast team produce with the film and whether it can match up to the lauded original, when it is finally released on March 17, 2017.

[Featured Image by Disney]