Today Disney released their live-action version of Beauty and the Beast. To celebrate, we’re honoring the story’s French origins by highlighting a French cartoon that just has to be seen to be believed.
Have you ever wondered what Beauty and the Beast would have been like if the prince were the victim of nuclear poisoning instead of some enchantment? Or if Cinderella had been a naked, purple alien chick?
Well, do we have news for you! We’ve come across a rather interesting French cartoon that dates back to 1995, titled “Il etait un fois” (literally “Once Upon a Time”), that commissioned 26 different cartoonists to add their own twists to classic fairy tales. As can be seen in the videos below, most utilized a science-fiction setting and often added a twist ending, albeit for five minutes a piece. And we kind of owe it to the French, since they wrote most of these damn stories, anyway.
Our star of the day is of course, “La belle et la bête” (Beauty and the Beast), where Belle is the daughter of a chemist who accidentally offends a millionaire that has been deformed by a nuclear explosion. Once Belle agrees to become his prisoner to save her father, she is waited on by robots instead of teapots and the Beast watches her through surveillance videos.
Instead of some power of love nonsense, Belle just gets her father to whip up a drug that restore’s the Beast’s health… which also bizarrely turns him blonde.
Of course, things could get a little more surreal. Their version of Cinderella, as aforementioned, is a naked, purple alien slave-girl. I could get into the plot, but this is Cinderella, not Tess of the d’Urbervilles… I’m pretty sure you can figure it out, although I admit there is a twist ending.
While the series retold some familiar tales including Snow White and The Little Mermaid, we are still talking about the French, and so, some episodes go into darker content, like Donkeyskin and Bluebeard.
Both avoid any updating of the setting — it helps that the more obscure stories don’t get adapted enough to justify trying to be different — but they still have their twists. For Bluebeard, instead of actually killing his wives, to make things more child-friendly, he is merely a Satanist warlock who imprisons his wive’s souls into puppets as some sort of human sacrifice, needing seven wives to homage the Seven Deadly Sins.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, censorship is weird. Also, Bluebeard has Mickey Mouse hair.