Five reasons why Maurice is a good father in Beauty and the Beast (2017)

One performance in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (2017) I most enjoyed was Kevin Kline as Maurice. I thought he captured several good parenting skills in his portrayal of the inventive father of avid-reader, and protagonist Belle. This post is a list of how well Maurice models good parenting.

Spoiler warning – this post contains plot spoilers specific to the 2017 Beauty and the Beast film.

The Positive Parenting Program (The Triple P, an Australian initiative) presents good resources for families. They teach techniques to raise happier kids. They encourage parents to feel confident they are doing the right thing. They instruct parents how to take care of themselves as well.

One blog post from Matt Sanders of the Triple P program describes the five things that fathers and father figures should know.

Here’s how Maurice stacks up next to those ideas:

#1 Talk to your kids – Maurice and Belle share some of the most powerful conversations in the film.

This is a foregone conclusion. Maurice respects Belle, and speaks to her as an equal. On to the next one.

#2 Play with your kids – Building intricate things is one of Maurice’s skills, and he created a finely crafted baby rattle for Belle to play with.

It’s easy to picture Belle and Maurice playing with various micro mechanical projects together. Belle was able to design and implement a donkey-powered washing machine early in the film with her technical knowledge, after all.

#3 Set a good example – Of all the people in the community, Maurice is the only one to stand up to Gaston. This turns out to be costly, since Gaston is a neanderthal with a mind for wily strategy.

Maurice aims to be upstanding in all he does, regardless of who is watching. Except for maybe one lapse in judgement. He tries to strike Gaston with an open hand. In his defence, Gaston had verbally assaulted his daughter, attempted to murder him, and was casually gas lighting him in front of the town. Extreme conditions, for sure.

#4 Keep your vaccinations up to date – While vaccination would not enter mainstream medicine until the late 18th Century, Maurice protects himself and Bell from disease. This is a key plot point in the film.

Belle and Maurice move from Paris to the country to escape a plague. Belle’s mother died from infection. Maurice was doing everything he could.

#5 Get screened for depression – Despite Maurice being a model citizen, Gaston disparages his mental state, and a dour coachman hauls him off to the asylum.

His mental health remains sound, despite these assaults. He speaks in an even, conversational way to the coachman from the Asylum after he escapes the asylum’s padded and barred carriage. It is one sign that Maurice endures pain and grief, but resists violence and despair. His positive mental state persists.

At the end of the film, Maurice has moved from clockwork and metal crafts to painting. He appears calm, perhaps taking time to recover from his ordeal, and celebrate his daughters wedding by capturing the moment with water colours on canvas. But this is why care for and checking on mental health must take priority – like Maurice, a person with depression can appear find on the surface, but in reality, need more help. let’s hope he finds what he needs.

The original blog post with information for fathers and father figures can be found on the Triple P Blog, and you can read more about the Triple P initiative on their website.

This post was written by Joe at The Wallflyer. You can find more posts here at The Wallflyer, and you can follow me on Twitter for more updates.

Here’s a list of all the books and writing references in Beauty and the Beast (2017)

Last week, Disney’s live action Beauty and the Beast arrived in cinemas. While most of the world saw the movie release on March 17, Australia was one week behind with a March 23 release date. Regardless, the movie celebrates reading and books through avid-reader, and protagonist, Belle.

This post is a comprehensive list of the books and writing referenced in the new, live action film.

1. Romeo and Juliet – William Shakespeare – 1623 folio

In the initial opening song, Belle tells a surprised gentleman about a book she just finished reading. The red and gold volume she carries is about “two lovers in fair Verona”. This may be a small anachronism. Romeo and Juliet would have been a key show performed by acting troupes, but not published yet since Belle lives in early 1700’s and as a result. History may be on the side of the producers, however. A folio version of the Shakespeare play was available from around 1623 onward.

A second reference to the works of William Shakespeare appears when Belle recites a quote from A Midsummer Nights Dream:

“Love can transpose to form and dignity. Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind, And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind”

2. A Crystal Forest – William Sharp – 1913

While definitely an anachronism, the poem Belle selects to describe the ice and snow cloaking Beast’s garden could is definitely evocative and descriptive. William Sharp published a book of poems in 1913 that contained A Crystal Forest. Belle does not complete the poem, but the last line of the poem from where Belle leaves the reading ties up the sense of winter cold:

Each branch, each twig, each blade of
grass.

Seems clad miraculously with glass:
Above the ice-bound streamlet bends.

Each frozen fern with crystal ends.

3. Vulgate Cycle – Prose Lancelot – 1210 – 1230

Belle and the Beast share a connection over reading and stories. The Beast slowly warms to the idea of connection with another person after long-term isolation from the world at the hands of the enchantment.

As part of this process of reconnecting, he finds the story of Lancelot and Guinevere. This version is likely a collection of stories from a legendary text called the Vulgate Cycle. This cycle consists of five volumes telling the story of King Arthur and Camelot.

Lancelot and Guinevere’s romance takes place in one of these volumes.

The Prose Lancelot collects several of the five together. Beast most likely reads from the collected edition Prose Lancelot.

Another interesting point – The Vulgate Cycle contains the stories of Merlin, King Arthur, and the sword Excalibur. These stories form the basis of another Disney film The Sword in the Stone.

4. Sleeping Beauty – 1697

This one is not explicitly stated. While no confirmation that Sleeping Beauty features as Belle’s favourite book, there are some hints that Belle is describing Sleeping Beauty when she sings “here’s where she meets prince charming…”.

Reddit user comatoseduck identified some evidence for this theory:

Far off places: … a different kingdom.
Daring Sword Fights: Prince Phillip fights Maleficent (who had turned into a dragon) with a sword.
Magic Spells: Maleficent, Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather all do magic in the movie.
A Prince in Disguise: When Aurora meets Phillip, she doesn’t know he’s a prince.

Four resources where useful for gathering this information:

  1. The Genius.com article on Romeo and Juliet.
  2. The TimelessMyths.com article on The Vulgate Cycle.
  3. The Internet Archive copy of Poems, by William Sharp.
  4. The Fan Theories sub-Reddit page.

This post was written by Joe at The Wallflyer. You can find more posts here at The Wallflyer, and you can follow me on Twitter for more updates.

Elastic or Super Stretching: A list of elastic heroes part 2

Flexibility when big, life changes happen is a helpful character trait to possess or develop. This first blog post lists and compares several of these characters in the order they were first published (by publication year). This is part 2 of a two-part post.

I think flexibility is the main reason why super heroes with elastic or super stretching powers are fascinating. They embody adaptation. They can work around most physical obstacles, rising to impossible challenges. At the same time, they look unusual and strange. They connect to the sense of being an outcast or an outsider that comic book characters explore (the X-Men being a long standing example).

Dhalsim, 1991

Dhalsim from the Street Fighter series has less extreme and flowing stretching powers. He can’t elongate his body into a sheet, but his arms and legs still spring out, which is an effective fighting tactic in the two dimensional world of Street Fighter. Some writers have criticised Dhalsim’s cliched and racially stereotyped design; Dhalsim is a practising yoga master from India. He wears skulls and breathes fire. These characteristics show Dhalsim’s elastic design was not deeply thought out or planned when he, and the cast of Street Fighter 2were initially created. He is one part of an ‘international’ cast of characters. Looking for depth, flexibility, and outsider status would be difficult considering the stereotyping behind his design.

Luffy (Monkey.D.Luffy), 1997

Monkey D. Luffy is the pirate captain of the Straw Hat pirates from the long-running One Piece manga. He has several traits in common with Plastic Man. Both have morally chaotic decision making skills, and extreme, stretching abilities. They also have a sense of humour and optimistic buoyant personalities. Luffy has the middle initial of “D”, which marks him as an outsider in the One Piece world. Another elastic hero marked as an outsider.

Mrs. Incredible, 2004

In 2004, Helen Parr appears in the Disney Pixar animation The Incredibles. Similar to Mr.Fantastic, she is a strong family figure, and like Mr. Fantastic, would make tremendous
sacrifices to protect her family. Her elastic powers are also similar to Mr. Fantastic. Mrs. Incredible also made a significant sacrifice in her life when she gave up being a hero entirely to raise a family.

Jake the Dog, 2008

In 2008, Jake the Dog is the first prominent, non-human shape shifter and elastic hero. His story arc progresses from a more carefree adventurer, to concerned parent. He shapeshifts not just to fight and carry Finn around, but also to adapt to his changing responsibilities. He starts in the same, chaotic place as Luffy and Plastic Man, but transitions to become more similar in character to Mr.Fantastic and Mrs. Incredible.

Ms. Marvel, 2013

Finally, in 2013, Ms. Marvel arrives. Her abilities include shapeshifting and stretching, similar to Plastic Man and Luffy. Kamala Khan fights prejudice and stands out as a diverse role model. Another elastic hero with outsider status, who is an authentic American Muslim character, concerned with the safety of everyone in her New Jersey community. The depth and thought behind Ms. Marvel’s design and writing contrasts with the ideas and stereotypes hastily used to create Street Fighter character Dhalsim. Ms. Marvel needs to be flexible to take on prejudice in her community toward Americans who are also of the Islamic faith.

An interesting trend observed just from the publication year is the increase in shapeshifting and stretching characters since 1997. Moving into the 21st century, flexibility is an increasingly valuable character trait. We can see a bit of our own struggle to be more flexible with the demands of contemporary life in these characters.

So, are these insights valuable, or just over thinking? You can head back in time, and read about elastic heroes before 1990 on the Wallflyer.

Elastic or Super Stretching: A list of elastic heroes part 1

Flexibility when big, life changes happen is a helpful character trait to possess or develop. This first blog post lists and compares several of these characters in the order they were first published (by publication year). This is part 1 of a two-part post.

I think flexibility is the main reason why super heroes with elastic or super stretching powers are fascinating. They embody adaptation. They can work around most physical obstacles, rising to impossible challenges. At the same time, they look unusual and strange. They connect to the sense of being an outcast or an outsider that comic book characters explore (the X-Men being a long standing example).

Plastic Man, 1941

In 1941, Plastic Man arrives in Police Comics #1. He is the earliest hero in American comics publishing with stretching powers. A reformed thief, Plastic Man has an overwhelming sense of humour. This brightness was later contrasted with depths of sadness when the character appeared in several Justice League of America story arcs during the 1990’s. Flexible and elastic characters can change with the times. They embody adaptation.

Reed Richards, Elongated Man, 1961

Almost exactly 20 years later, in 1961, two more elastic heroes appear. One more arrives for DC, and a prominent stretchy heroes appears at Marvel Comics. These two heroes are the detective Elongated Man, and the super scientist and Fantastic Four team leader Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic). Richards is a character with strong family connections. He would literally stretch to great lengths to defend his family. Elongated Man is also a character with strong family connections. Like Plastic Man, he is also the survivor of almost overwhelming tragedies, having lost his wife Susan Dearbon (before New 52 relaunch at DC comics) and almost losing Susan again (after the New 52 relaunch) in Secret Six.

Elastic-Girl, 1963

Elasti-Girl of the Doom Patrol appears in 1963. She represents the outsider interpretation of elastic and stretchy heroes. Also experiencing loss and tragedy, she and her team died in a battle to save a small fishing village. Like Elongated Man, she has returned following the New 52 relaunch, however.

Flat Man, 1989

In 1989, a hero with limited stretching or elastic powers called Flat Man appears at Marvel comics. Flat Man joins the Great Lakes Avengers, who are often sidelined or maligned by the Avengers, or the X-Men. Combined with the Flat Man’s character development – gaining the confidence to admit to himself that he is gay and eventually come out to his teammates – the outcast status appears in connection with another elastic hero.

Are these ideas of flexibility, of overcoming obstacles, and being an outcast justified and relevant, or just overthinking? Part two on the Wallflyer will cover heroes after 1991 – Dhalsim, Mrs. Incredible, Monkey D. Luffy, Jake the Dog, and Ms. Marvel.

Update 22/2 Link to part two added to the last paragraph.

Caricature and Fantasy Art from Carlo Angelo

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I have a few short comments on Carlo Angelo’s caricature and fantasy art.

Carlo Angelo writes and animates masterful and effervescent art, addressing LGBT and Queer themes in their work. A Contemporary cartooning styles appears in Angelo’s work, alongside a sense of gothic fantasy. An older version of such gothic fantasy might be found in Eyvind Earle’s Disney background work.

Angelo has created a self caricature, with several of his own characters, in a piece created for the Brisbane Melt Festival.

You can find Angelo’s sketchpad on tumblr.

For writing, Less Than Three Press has a short story collection featuring Angelo’s work.

This caricature and fantasy art is featured as part of the Melt Queer arts and culture festival in Brisbane, a celebration of the creative skill in the LGBT community (I wrote about Queer Content’s entry into the Melt Festival previously).

Jedi is a Plural Word

Star Wars Episode VIII has a subtitle. “The Last Jedi”  evokes a sense of time running out, of a last stand. It is ominous.

Whether this refers to Luke Skywalker, or to Rey, is unclear. During the events of Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi Skywalker became the last Jedi, according to Master Yoda.

The word Jedi is plural however. It is a mass noun, or a non-count noun. This means a word that represents both the individual, and the group, in contemporary English.

A discussion on Stack Exchange has some examples of the use of the word to mean single and plural.

For more information, Empire Online published an interview with Star Wars Episode VIII director Rian Johnson.

Goku, Astro Boy, and Mickey Mouse character design.

In a tweet posted December 29, 2016, character animator Anatola Howard observed design similarities between three animation icons.

A publication timeline supports the pattern. Mickey Mouse (1928) predates Astro Boy (1951). Goku first appears in Weekly Shonen Jump Magazine on December 3, 1984.

For character designers, the similarity won’t surprise very much. The hair colour and shape stands out. The white negative space contrasts the positive space, which is the black hair and ears. The design echoes from Mickey Mouse to Astro Boy, to Goku.

For more art and insights from Howard, their tumblr has an art collection.