Beauty and the Beast is considered by many to be one of the greatest Disney movies of all time. Not only does it contain one of the most heartwarming stories, but it also has some of the best animation in a Disney film.
And one of the most memorable songs in the 1991 classic is, of course, “Be Our Guest.” But believe it or not, the original animated version of this song didn’t have Belle in the scene at all.
In fact, the tune was meant to be sung to a different character entirely.
‘Beauty and the Beast’ is the first animated Disney movie to be nominated for best picture
Beauty and the Beast is the first Disney movie to be nominated for best picture. The film also has the most Academy Award nominations, only to be tied with Wall-E in 2008. It won for “Best Score” and the best original song for “Beauty and the Beast.”
“Be our Guest” and “Belle” were also nominated for this category.
‘Be Our Guest’ was initially sung to Maurice instead of Belle
According to Don Hahn, the producer of the film, the Oscar-nominated song “Be Our Guest” was supposed to be sung to Belle’s father Maurice instead. Yet as Hahn admits, this version was less magical than the final outcome.
“There was a time fairly early on when we were working on the film and feeling really good about how it was coming together,” he said during a behind-the-scenes video. “The songs were incredible. ‘Be Our Guest’ was one of them that we couldn’t get out of our heads. We were singing it all day long and in the shower. And it was put in the movie when Maurice first gets to the castle. The objects welcome him and sing ‘Be Our Guest.’”
“Yet one of our story guides, Bruce Woodside, said, ‘You know, you guys will probably just tear my head off here, but I think they’re singing to the wrong person,” continued Hahn. “You know, shouldn’t they be singing to Belle? It’s kind of her movie. You know, it’s not Maurice and the Beast. It’s Belle and the Beast. And you know, he was right. So we plucked it out and put it later in the film. We re-story boarded it with Belle, and he was absolutely right. It worked beautifully, and it gave a beautiful, welcoming sequence for the objects to welcome this girl who might, in fact, break the spell to the beast’s castle. We went back to New York and re-wrote some of the new pronouns and new lyrics for it to give a sense that we were singing now to Belle, and the rest is history.”
This ‘Beauty and the Beast’ song has a much deeper meaning than you think
Interestingly enough, one of the darkest songs from the movie is described as a metaphor for those struggling with AIDS. The executive producer of Beauty and the Beast, Howard Ashman, was struggling with AIDS throughout the making of the film. And he had written the lyrics to “Kill the Beast,” which Hahn says is about how the world perceived people with the virus at the time.
“Howard was struggling with AIDS at the same time,” says Hahn in an interview with Den of Geek. “The ‘Kill The Beast’ song was almost a metaphor for that. He was really dealing with a debilitating disease in an era when it was stigmatized. And so, there were so many of those underpinnings to the movie that people may not have seen. And shouldn’t have seen. It wasn’t about the HIV epidemic at all. But if you study the man and his struggles and then look at his lyrics, you understand what he was going through.”