How Belle from 'Beauty and the Beast' Became Disney's First Feminist Princess

From Harper's BAZAAR

Disney released the first trailer for its remake of Beauty and the Beast (starring Emma Watson as Belle) yesterday and it already looks enchanting. The film, which premieres in March of 2017, is a live-action revival of the animated feature that was released in 1991.

Linda Woolverton is the screenwriter responsible for penning the original. Though she isn't involved with the current reboot, she did open up to TIME about what it was like creating Belle.

Woolverton aimed to create a princess "that isn't based on being kind and taking the hits but smiling all the way through it," she told TIME. "I just didn't feel like that's the message that we wanted to move into the next century with. And that's the Disney heroine that I grew up with." It also helped that she was the first woman to write a Disney animated film, and that the production process for Beast coincided with the women's liberation movement.

But the creation process wasn't all smooth sailing; Woolverton's scenes often faced rewrites that steered Belle into a stereotypical female trope. She noted that one scene, which was originally written to show Belle dreaming about her future travels, was rewritten to show her in a kitchen decorating a cake. As a compromise, the scene was edited to show Belle nose-deep in a book-her favorite pastime.

"If you depict girls and women in these roles that we've never seen before, then it becomes an assumption for younger generations," the writer said. How fitting it is then, that the actress playing Woolverton's feminist brainchild is an ardent feminist herself.