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, it was going to be Maurice (Belle’s father) who 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 really 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.
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:
“Ten years we’ve been rusting/needing so much more than dusting/needing exercise, a chance to use our skill!”
Now, while the moment features a funny gag or two with Cogsworth, 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 certainly 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?
Well, that’s about it for “Be Our Guest” (this song always makes me smile, and a little bit hungry too, if I’m honest), I hope you enjoyed it. Next time it will be the immortal “Tale as Old as Time”, which I can’t wait to share with all of you, enjoy the rest of the day! -Bex
(P.S. If you’ve never heard Maurice Chevalier perform, check out his performance of “The Aristocats” from the film of the same name : Maurice Chevalier “The Aristocats” (1970) )
*all images are the property of Walt Disney Studios
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