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In the grand scheme of Beauty and the Beast, “Be Our Guest” serves as Belle’s proper introduction to the various enchanted inhabitants of the castle under the elaborate guise of providing her with a forbidden dinner (since she refused to dine with the Beast, he had decided that she wouldn’t eat at all, unless it was with him). It’s a masterful production number and one of the visual highlights of the film. But it wasn’t always going to be Belle as the recipient.
Let me explain: it’s no secret that movie scripts often go through many revisions, with scenes (or songs) being moved around to different points in the movie before a final order is decided on. With Beauty and the Beast, the storyline was originally going to be somewhat different. According to an earlier draft, Maurice was going to be serenaded with “Be Our Guest” until the commotion attracted the Beast, who would break the party up by dragging the poor guy into the dungeon. The sequence was partially animated (with Maurice) until the writers realized that, story-wise, placing the song this early in would drag down the story and that it should be Belle receiving this introduction, not her father. So the song was moved to it’s current position and Maurice’s scene was changed to the “spot of tea” moment we know today.
When I was young, I always thought that the Beast would charge into the room at any moment and be furiously angry that the servants (and Belle) defied him. It kept me from properly enjoying this moment for a while.
The song is led by Lumiere (Jerry Orbach) who performs in the style of famed French singer Maurice Chevalier (1888-1972). Poor Cogsworth (David Ogden Stiers) spends most of the song trying to hush everything up, but even he’s swept up into it by the end. There’s a lot of food paraded past (and presumably Belle eats her fill, even though she’s not seen to eat a lot), a cabaret performed by the cutlery, dancing tea cups, singing kitchen pots, etc. and so on.
Ma cherie Mademoiselle,
It is with deepest pride and greatest pleasure
That we welcome you tonight.
And now, we invite you to relax,
Let us pull up a chair
As the dining room proudly presents –
Be… our… guest!
Be our guest!
Put our service to the test
Tie your napkin ’round your neck, cherie
And we’ll provide the rest
Soup du jour
Hot hors d’oeuvres
Why, we only live to serve
Try the grey stuff
Don’t believe me?
Ask the dishes
They can sing!
They can dance!
After all, Miss, this is France!
And the dinner here is never second best!
Go on, unfold your menu
Take a glance and then you’ll
Be our guest
Oui, our guest
Be our guest!
There is a rather interesting interlude in the song, and for me it’s always created a bit of a problem. The music turns rather somber and Lumiere expresses how lonely and bored they’ve been without anyone to serve:
Life is so unnerving
For a servant who’s not serving
He’s not whole without a soul to wait upon
Ah, those good old days when we were useful
Suddenly those good old days are gone
Ten years we’ve been rusting
Needing so much more than dusting
Needing exercise, a chance to use our skills!
It’s interesting that Lumiere notes this state of affairs has existed for ten years. Remember in the prologue, it was stated that the rose would bloom until the Prince turned 21. In that case, wouldn’t that have made the Prince 11 when he was enchanted? Cause in those stained-glass pictures, he doesn’t look 11 years old, and that’s why it’s a problem, it’s something of a plot hole that you can’t really resolve.
Aside from “Belle” and “Tale as Old as Time,” “Be Our Guest” is one of the most recognizable Disney songs out there. Who wouldn’t love being sung to by a bunch of enchanted objects? That’s about it for “Be Our Guest” I hope you enjoyed it.
*all images are the property of Walt Disney Studios
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