Of all the wonderful fairy tales that I know, Beauty and the Beast has been my favorite since forever. I give full credit to the Disney film for starting my love for this captivating story of finding true beauty and love, but I adore the original fairy tale just as much.
RELATED: Revisiting Beauty and the Beast
While some folk tale analysts interpret this tale with darker connotations (i.e. Stockholm syndrome, etc), I’ve always seen it as a tale that was filled with mystery and beauty and a great message about looking beyond what you can see. Unlike many other fairy tales, the hero and heroine don’t fall in love instantly but cultivate a friendship that eventually turns into deeper feelings. Beauty and the Beast has been retold in countless films and shows – so here are 13 fun and intriguing variations of this timeless tale!
13 Beauty and the Beast Adaptations
(in no particular order)
#1 Disney’s Beauty and the Beast
Belle is a small town girl who dreams of adventure in the great wide somewhere. She gets more than she expected when she trades her freedom to a mysterious, frightening Beast to free her father. Unbeknownst to her, she’s the only one who can break the spell on the Beast.
My favorite, probably forever. This is Disney at its finest with stunning animation, wonderful songs and a heartfelt story that continues to engage both children and adults today!
#2 Beauty and the Beast TV Show (1987)
Catherine Chandler is an assistant DA in New York. When she’s brutally disfigured by a mugger, a mysterious beast-like man, Vincent, rescues her and takes her to the underground sewers where he and other outcasts live. A deep bond emerges between Catherine and Vincent, yet two very different worlds separate them.
This unusual but fascinating show did well with three seasons and today it has an even larger cult following. The show has a wonderful blend of fairy-tale and modern sensibilities that create an intriguing world of undercity dwellers and the old-soul, gentlemanly Vincent. The writing can be a bit sappy at times but overall it’s a lot of fun. While the show is pretty clean with little in the way of innuendo or graphic violence, the thematic elements can be pretty dark (criminal cases of rape, domestic violence, murder, etc).
Kyle Kingson may be the most popular kid in at Buckeston Academy but he’s also a selfish jerk. Unfortunately for him, he messes with the wrong girl at school and gets cursed to look as ugly as he is within. When Kyle sees his schoolmate Lindy is in trouble, he decides to bring her to his home. But can Lindy ever see him as anything but a monster?
This is probably my favorite “modern” retelling of Beauty and the Beast. The familiar story is retold in an engaging way bringing all the motifs of the story to life once again. This is a very sweet and endearing romance. The film is rated PG-13 for brief violence, language including crude comments, and some thematic material.
#4 Beauty and the Beast Hallmark TV movie (1976)
Belle, a sweet but strong merchant’s daughter, goes to the Beast’s castle in exchange for her father’s life. There she finds herself slowly falling in love with the mysterious but fascinating beastly king.
I love finding adaptations of Beauty and the Beast, and this Hallmark oldie is a wonderful find. Unlike many other versions, this one spends a good amount of time on building the friendship between Beast and Belle, which I love. George C. Scott (he played the 1970 Edward Rochester) plays an excellent beast, but Trish Van Devere (who was also George Scott’s wife in real life) is my favorite as a lovely and incredibly strong Belle. There are so many good moments in this TV film, including Belle and Beast discussing Aristotle, Belle trying to find out what kind of mythic creature Beast is, and Belle giving Beast nicknames (my favorites being Lord Magic and Gentle Eyes). This film is not to be missed for fairy tale lovers.
#5 La Belle et la Bete (1946)
Belle, kind and hardworking, has a handsome suitor, but her devotion is entirely focused on taking care of her father. When her father’s life is in danger from a beast, Belle willingly takes his place. She stays in a palace full of magic and wonders where a frightening, but gentle beast makes it his goal to win her heart.
This early film version of Beauty and the Beast is one of the most dynamic, beautifully created fairy tale films. The film is practically dripping with mystery and ethereal magic. Many of the elements in this film can be seen in later movie and TV productions. This one is entirely in French, so subtitles are a must (unless you speak French).
#6 Britannica’s Fairy Tales From Around The World: Beauty and the Beast
A truly hideous beast needs true love to break the spell on him. Can Beauty see through his ugliness?
Britannica’s Fairy Tales From Around The World, an animated series that ran in 1991, was a new find for me. This is more of a short with a nine-minute runtime and was a quick, enjoyable watch. Though this show is intended for kids, I honestly wouldn’t let any young children watch it as the beast is probably the most frightening version I’ve ever seen, haha! It really makes you admire Beauty for seeing Beast’s true heart – because I don’t know that I could with someone who looks like he’s a creature who escaped from Hell.
#7 Once Upon A Time – Episode: Skin Deep
Rumpelstiltskin promises to aid Sir Maurice’s struggling kingdom against the Ogres but at the price of Maurice’s daughter coming with him. Belle works in Rumple’s castle and slowly the unlikely couple draws closer. Could true love thrive between them?
The Once Upon A Time episode that launched the RumBelle shippers right away. This is still my favorite of Belle and Rumpelstiltskin and I love the way the writers took the story and retold in a new but just as lovely way.
#8 Beauty and the Beast (1987)
Kind and sweet, Beauty is scared of the leonine beast she’s staying with, but a gentle princely young man keeps coming in her dreams, trying to tell her something.
Starring Rebecca De Mornay (Risky Business) and John Savage, this 80s’ Cannon Tales movie is a musical with pretty costumes that are sure to charm the kids (and fairy tale lovers like me who will watch every BATB version ever, haha). I like the dream sequences that were added (like in the original de Villeneuve novel), and while the music isn’t the best (some of the voices are off key) it gives the film a nice element.
#9 Beauty and the Beast TV Show (2012)
Catherine Chandler has never forgotten the mysterious beast-like man who saved her life from the men who killed her mother. Years later, she finds herself on the trail of the man who saved her – Vincent Keller, a former soldier with a dark, cryptic past.
I was pretty pumped when I learned about the remake of the 1987 show. While I was initially disappointed at the major changes in this version (Vincent isn’t permanently in beast form nor was he born like this and there is no secret underground world), I enjoyed watching the first couple seasons of this CW show. It’s a bit more on the sappy, romantic side. I thought the lead actors were well-chosen and really sold the romance. The show took a lot of dramatic, over-the-top turns as it progressed, most likely to keep viewers interested. It’s TV-PG and is filled with typical CW content – occasional language, innuendo, violence, and a few sex scenes.
#10 Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas
During Christmas, Mrs. Potts tells Chip a story about how Belle brought back Christmas to the castle.
Early on when Disney decided to start capitalizing on their films and making sequels, they produced a low budget film that is something of a midquel. While wonderfully all the voices returned, the story suffers from poor writing and animation that’s certainly not terrible but not quite on par as the original. However, I did enjoy this film a lot as a kid so that counts for something!
#11 La Belle et La Bete (2014)
Belle is a prisoner in a mystical castle steeped in magic. As she seeks to find the answers to the beast’s former life, she begins to fall in love with him. Meanwhile, her brothers are in debt to a dangerous man, Perducas, who has gotten wind of this magical palace full of wealth.
Hands-down the most beautiful fairy-tale film ever made, La Belle et La Bete is filled with stunning cinematography, dazzling gowns and ethereal magic. While I think the story is not as strong as other versions (they really rushed through the growing relationship with Belle and the Beast), I still enjoyed this adaptation for making me feel the childhood nostalgia of fairy tale magic. This one is in French like its predecessor. Rating wise, I’d give this a PG-13 with some violence and partial nudity of a woman in a non-sexual scene.
#12 Faerie Tale Theatre: Beauty and the Beast
Beauty has everything she’s ever dreamed of at the Beast’s castle. But when the Beast lets her return home to visit her father, will she return as she promised?
As I’ve only recently discovered Faerie Tale Theatre, a kid’s show from the ’80’s that retold fairy tales with a low budget production, this was a recent watch for me. This was a fun hour watch and stars the beautiful, young Susan Sarandon. I did find it hilarious how similar this one is to La Belle et La Bete (1946) – literally, many scenes are just scene by scene reenactments. Even the beast looks exactly like the beast from the classic French film.
#13 Grimm’s Fairy Tale Classics: Beauty and The Beast
Maria sacrifices herself to save her father but she’s horribly sad living in the Beast’s lonely castle. Can the Beast ever make her happy?
Grimm’s Fairy Tale Classics was a Japanese animated show that retold folk tales back in the late ’80s. The episode runs 21 mins and retells the story in a cutesy sometimes silly way (the father was hilarious as he refused to give up a rose to save his or his daughter’s life, haha). Overall, it had decent animation and was a cute watch.
What Beauty and the Beast adaptations are your favorites? Any that you enjoyed that aren’t on this list? I’d love to know about them!