Ironically, Beauty And The Beast's author, Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve, had an arranged marriage so terrible that it'd earn her a reality show today. She was stuck with a much older man who squandered most of their money, prompting her to attempt a legal separation. The man then died and left her impoverished, and she struggled to make it on her own until she shacked up with a playwright as his mistress. So she tried to ditch her shitty arranged marriage, then followed her heart despite the cost to others, which you may recognize as the exact opposite of her story's moral.
Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont, who abridged and popularized Villeneuve's story, didn't fare much better. Her first marriage was to a dude who picked up a venereal disease from his beloved orgies, and (in a rarity for the time) their union was annulled. Beaumont supported herself for a while before scoring a second, much better marriage. In what was presumably a zinger intended for her first husband, her retelling of the story emphasized the lesson that girls should value virtue over looks.
The Damsel Tied To A Train Track Comes From Parodies Of Old Movies
Quick, picture a dastardly deed! Wait wait, don't tell us: You just imagined a guy with a top hat and a twisty mustache tying a woman to some train tracks, didn't you?
Jay Ward ProductionsHe hasn't even tied you yet, lady. Just, like, get up.
It is a classic. The damsel tied to train tracks trope first appeared in the 1867 play Under The Gaslight, in which the damsel was a man who was rescued by the leading lady. That started a train trend on stage, and later on film, where heroes and heroines would narrowly avoid all sorts of train-related mayhem, much like how countless modern action movies will feature an explosive plane or helicopter crash. But that exact scenario you pictured -- twirling mustaches, screaming damsels, approaching trains -- only ever happened in parodies.
The scenario is so cartoonish because it was born out of comedies. The two most influential examples are Barney Oldfield's Race For A Life and Teddy At The Throttle, both of which featured the mustachioed villain doing the nefarious damsel assaulting, and both of which were mocking the dramas of their time for their lack of subtlety. So the trope we all use today to mock simplistic, old-timey evil was in fact mocking even older-timey evil in the first place.
Keystone Film CompanyIt had the highest budget ever at the time: 12 cents.
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For more, check out 6 Weirdly Specific Tropes Movies Got Briefly Obsessed With and 6 Minor Movie Details That Always Mean One MAJOR Thing.
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