'Beauty and the Beast': Kill the Beast song hints AIDS related issues
A first look at Beauty and the Beast, a live-action retelling of the Disney classic. YouTube/Disney Movie Trailers

The Disney classic movie “Beauty and the Beast” is known to be one of the popular romance stories that also showcased a different type of hero and heroine characters. But behind the romance and happily ever after theme hides a deep and controversial issue that has been around for ages.

The original 1991 animated movie could have turned out much differently in terms of its storyline if it were not for one gay man’s tragic struggle with AIDS. This is all thanks to none other than the movie’s late lyricist Howard Ashman.

This was revealed during an interview with the movie's lead actors, Emma Watson (“Harry Potter”) and Dan Stevens (“The Guest”) for Attitude magazine’s April issue. Film director Bill Condon, during that time, explained the heartbreaking true story that paved way for the 1991 animated film. He also tackled how the true story inspired him to create Disney’s first ever gay character for the movie.

Ashman was an American playwright who was battling AIDS while he was working with the original Disney movie. Conor said, “Disney had been developing 'Beauty and the Beast' for decades. But there was a specific version they were working on developing in the Eighties.”

During that time, Ashman had just been diagnosed with AIDS. Conor further explained that it was the songwriter’s idea to not only make the film into a musical but also to make Beast as a main character. The reason for this is because originally, the movie team had planned on focusing the whole story on Belle alone with Beast as an extra character.

Conor further elaborated that Ashman used Beast as a metaphor for AIDS. “He was cursed and this curse had brought sorrow on all those people who loved him and maybe there was a chance for a miracle and a way for the curse to be lifted,” the director confessed.

Ashman even secretly hinted about the metaphor being his battle with his disease in Gaston’s mob song, “Kill the Beast.” The lyrics go: “We don't like what we don't understand. In fact it scares us. And this monster is mysterious at least.” They continue, “Bring your guns, bring your knives. Save your children and your wives. We'll save our village and our lives. We'll kill the Beast!”

Sadly, Ashman was not able to join them in the rework of the Disney classic. The songwriter passed away on March 14, 1991, which was merely four days away from the debut of the original Disney film.

Even on his absence, Ashman won two posthumous Grammy Awards. But his masterpiece is evidently how he changed the “Beauty and the Beast” story and made it a beloved classic. Its live-action remake hits the theatres on March 17.