This song could also be titled “Gaston shows his true colors”
Events in Beauty and the Beast begin to come to a head with “The Mob Song.” To recap, Belle has been allowed to leave the castle to rescue her father who has gotten lost trying to find her (Belle) and is now dangerously ill. Belle’s return is exactly what Gaston has been waiting for to put his plan into motion: unless Belle immediately agrees to marry him, he’ll have her elderly father Maurice taken away to the insane asylum (having already paid off the head of the institution to make sure it’s done, even though the latter admits that Maurice poses no threat to anyone). I’m not sure that Gaston is thinking rationally at this point: no girl in her right mind would agree to that kind of proposal, and even if she did, it wouldn’t be any kind of happy marriage.
All of this is bad enough, but Belle unwittingly makes things worse when she fetches the magic mirror (no one believes the Beast exists, hence the reason they think Maurice is crazy) to prove that everything her father has been saying is true. Gaston is visibly shocked to see that Maurice WAS telling the truth, but is almost as quickly filled with deadly jealousy because it’s crystal clear to him (if not to Belle) that she has feelings for this “monster.” Belle finally snaps and tells Gaston the cold truth:
“He’s no monster Gaston, YOU are!”
The truth really hurts, doesn’t it? Enraged at this final rejection, Gaston impulsively decides that “if I can’t have her, no one can” and begins to paint a picture of the Beast as this terrible monster that MUST be destroyed. This pack of lies that Gaston feeds to the townspeople is the basis of “The Mob Song” and is a perfect illustration of how mob mentality works. Keep in mind that up until five minutes ago, no one in the town believed that the Beast even existed, and they certainly didn’t consider it a real threat. But now, with Gaston painting a picture of their darkest fears (a fearsome beast coming out of the forest to eat them one by one), it doesn’t take much to turn the crowd into a ranting mob bent on one thing: killing the Beast!!
(On a side note: remember how yesterday I said I suspected the voice actor who provides Gaston’s singing voice had operatic training? Well, the opening of the mob song reinforces that idea. Listen to how he draws out “It’s time to follow me!”
Belle, to her credit, tries to intervene, but Gaston is way ahead of her this time. He locks both Belle and her father in the cellar and gathers the crowd to head to the castle. And thanks to the magic mirror, he’ll have no trouble finding it. At this point, the song becomes a choral number, with the townspeople carrying the melody.
Meanwhile, back in town, Belle is trying to break out, but she can’t do it. Thankfully, little Chip stowed away with her and is still outside the house. He sees the invention that Belle’s father made still sitting on the hill and notes that it has a very sharp axe in front. To make a long story short, Chip uses the device to break the door down, freeing Belle to race to the castle.
But at the same time, the townspeople have nearly reached the castle, still singing of death and vengeance, while the Beast broods upstairs, deep in depression. There’s one verse the townspeople sing that basically sums up how these people think:
We don’t like what we don’t understand/in fact it scares us/and this monster is mysterious at least
All of this really boils down to fearing what you don’t understand, and now Gaston is going to use that fear to destroy the Beast and the castle (though the enchanted occupants aren’t about to make it easy for him).
“The Mob Song” really is a great Disney song because it serves to drive the story forward toward its climax. Gaston is firmly in place as the story’s true villain (reinforced by riding a black horse), and the stage is set for the final battle.
Random trivia: To make the Beast’s voice, Robby Benson’s own voice was mixed with a variety of animal growls. But in the soundtrack version of this song, you can hear Benson’s actual voice in the dialogue between him and Mrs. Potts. Hard to believe it belongs to the same person!
*all images are copyright to Walt Disney Studios
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