Let’s talk about the enchanted servants for a moment.
Because they’re not really enchanted objects, they’re not objects that were given life, they’re people who’ve been cursed, and that lost and hidden humanity is an undercurrent running through the whole film.
even though they’re now made of wood, metal, porcelain, and other such
things, they can still walk and talk and they have retained their
personalities; can think for themselves, can still express human
emotions, and most unfortunately, can still feel pain.
((By the way if you get a chance I would highly encourage you to go frame-by-frame on this scene, it does not disappoint.))
“background characters” are just as important to the story as Belle and
Beast themselves, as they reinforce the scope of the curse. It wasn’t
just the Prince who lost everything that day, his servants lost
everything; their hopes, their dreams, their lives, and – as the stage
version so horrifyingly tells us – their humanity as well, as they are
slowly turning into actual objects the more time goes by. Puts kind of a
darker spin on the fact that the majority of the enchanted ‘objects’ we
see in the castle don’t have faces, doesn’t it?
I found that out I was willing to assume that the curse also brought
random objects to life in the castle instead of just cursing the
servants but now…
Which makes Belle’s appearance in the castle so momentous for them. Finally they have even a tiny glimmer of hope.
not a moment too soon, as they are in the final year of this ten-year
curse, at which point the spell will become permanent and they will all
just have to wait around until they lose their humanity entirely and
fully become inanimate objects. According to the stage version and Word of God, this was happening to the Beast too; slowly losing his human identity and becoming an actual animal. And he was aware it was happening.
Not that he’s already completely incapable of human emotion.
Which is why scenes like this one, short as they are, are some of my favorite.
at the dejection in their body language there. Belle is their one last
chance, their only hope of ever being human again, and they’re about to
lose even that because their Master won’t stop throwing tantrums. But
they stick with him anyway, and try to guide him as much as they can,
treating the whole situation like a bomb that could go off at any
You can pretty much see the beads of sweat rolling down all their faces. I guess that would be wax in Lumiere’s case.
So shots like this, short as they are, are highly significant:
“Oh no, wait, please! Please wait!”
love David Ogden Stiers and the desperation in that simple little plea
is heartbreaking. It’s worse than if he had shouted after her. They are
powerless to stop her and they know it. They have less control over the
curse than even their Master and yet they are just trying so very hard.
of this is important because throughout the movie the servants are
always hovering on the outskirts of the action, just… waiting, on pins
and needles, to see what happens next. Even in scenes where they really
don’t need to be there. They all have so much riding on these two
falling in love.
You could cut the tension in this room with a knife.
the Beast starts to straighten up and Belle starts to warm up to him,
the change in the servants is palpable. Look at this dopey little smile
on Cogsworth’s face:
It’s a far cry from the grumpy stick-in-the-mud pessimist he was at the start of the film.
all of this makes “Human Again” such a fantastic inclusion on the
Special Edition of the DVD. This song should have been left in the
original release. As tumblr user dragonkeeper19600
mentioned, it just reinforces how many people are depending on Belle to
break the spell and how little time they have left. It’s also a
significant shift in mood for the servants – there’s a new sense of hope
and expectation throughout the castle. Also we learn what each of them
wants to do with their restored humanity, what all of their dreams are.
Cogsworth’s is the cutest.
this is just a really smooth piece of animation. My instructors always
told us the best way to avoid a lot of bland, generic gestures is to
give your characters something to do with their hands. Cogsworth and
Lumiere are always interacting with something throughout this shot and
it makes for some very fluid action.
they’re still there. Still hanging around, just… waiting, watching,
hoping, now more than ever. Also is it just me or does Cogsworth look
just the teensiest bit unhinged here? It’s understandable… This is the
last night they have, their one last shot.
“I knew you had it in you!”
it’s a far cry from where they all were at the beginning of the story,
and the change is most noticeable in Cogsworth, who started out the
stuffiest and most pessimistic. He is at the height of his excitement
here, bouncing into the Master’s room unannounced and completely
unafraid, all giddy and smug. We’ve come a long way from this:
makes it so poignant that he is the first to learn that the Beast let
Belle go. From a story point it makes sense that the Head of Household
be given this information and then take it to the other servants, but
from a character perspective it’s especially heartbreaking.
Lumiere was the one with the Beast as he prepared for his romantic
evening with Belle, offering advice with confidence and charm. Cogsworth
is the one whose hopes were raised the most, and his are the first to
Cogsworth then has to be the bearer of bad news. Look at his body
language here. In the previous scene he was loose and free with his
movements, more casual than he’d been throughout the film. Now he’s
motions are tight and restrained.
He holds himself very close to his default “I’m just an ordinary mantelpiece clock” position.
Right, that’s the one.
The servants pretty much give up at this point, all except Chip, and Cogsworth goes back to full-on pessimist again.
Although interestingly enough, Lumiere seems even more upset than Cogsworth at this point.
the first time he’s angry and bitter. He’s tried to stay positive only
to have his one chance at being human again ripped away from him at the
last second. And yet, both of them are super-quick to have their hopes
raised mere moments later when the footstool starts barking out the
Hope is hard to kill.
castle is attacked but the Beast just can’t be bothered to care. The
servants have enough self-preservation instinct left that they fight
back and yes, this is the moment where Cogsworth finally snaps.
He is clearly enjoying himself and we love watching it.
the battle dies down Cogsworth, Lumiere, and Mrs. Potts seek out their
Master and… I gotta say, it is really truly sweet that they have
remained loyal to him all these years after what he did and the curse he
brought on the castle. Even earlier in the film they were patient and
gentle and tried to guide him in wooing Belle. We don’t know what the
situation is with the Prince’s parents but it’s pretty safe to assume,
whatever it was, that his servants played a pretty big part in raising
him from an early age.
Look at the horror on their faces. Their Prince is dying and all they can do is watch.
And then the rose wilts and all their hopes and dreams of becoming human again are shattered.
is a great example of the power of subtle, quiet acting. They don’t
fall to the ground and start bawling, but the restraint in this shot
makes their heartache unbearable.
resigned, they’re exhausted. They’re cursed for eternity and, if we’re
going from the stage version, all they have to look forward to now is a
gradual descent into losing their humanity and fully becoming household
The audience doesn’t know what to feel at this point,
either. Have they really come so close, only to fall short at the last
second? The last petal falls and we are left breathless in our seats,
hoping for a miracle. After all, didn’t Belle just confess her love?
The transformation starts taking place but the rose has already wilted. The servants have no idea what to expect here.
fear is there for all three as they huddle together, but there’s
something else… Hope. Always hope. Right up until the very end.
beauty here (heh) is that this scene could very easily just have
belonged to Belle and the Beast. The servants could have shown up
afterwards just to show that everyone had returned to normal, but no,
they are highlighted throughout the scene. Their emotional journey is
just as important as the two leads and adds flavor and depth to an
already meaningful, beautiful climax.
this is the first time we’ve seen the Prince treat his servants like
friends. He’s like a little kid, in a good way this time. Can’t you just
feel the love radiating off of everyone in this shot?
Belle and the Beast are good characters but the servants are the glue
that holds this whole movie together. They are given just the right
amount of screen time to develop their characters while supporting their
leads. Also for comic relief sidekicks they’re given a surprising
amount of both dignity and authority. Their Prince may be in charge but
they keep the castle running smoothly, they’re the ones to welcome
Maurice and Belle and get the plot rolling, they’re the ones who fight
off the invading villagers, and yes, they’re the ones the Prince turns
to for advice, even when he’s being a pouty teenager.
I love these characters.
Also I forgot what a beautiful movie this is. Every single frame is like a work of art in itself.