perjantai 29. tammikuuta 2016

Sauna Shamanism



There is 5,5 million inhabitants in Finland and 3,5 million saunas. That makes 0,5 saunas for each Finn. If you live in Finland, if you have lived in Finland or if you have just visited Finland it is more than likely that you have been to sauna.

Road to sauna in my family summer cabin

You can find different types of saunas from other parts of the globe as well but in Finland sauna is major part of the culture and national identity.

For example Native Americans have their sweat tents that are used for shamanistic purposes. Same goes with the original purpose of Finnish sauna. Sauna was a place for shamanistic practice and spirituality. Sweating was seen as spiritual process. It wasn't just physical purification but also mental cleaning of the body. Sweat lots that have been used for spiritual purposes have been found also from India and Africa. 

Bath house culture in Europe originally started in the ancient Greece. Bath house culture however back then wasn't that much about shamanism or spirituality. For ancient Greeks going to a bathhouse was more a social event. Later on when Rome took over the world of ancient Greece they also adopted the bathhouse culture. After the fall of western Roman empire conquers from Turkey and other eastern Byzantium adopted the bathhouse culture and that is how bathhouse culture spread to eastern Europe.

Turkish sauna however is more similar to steam room and temperature doesn't rise above 40C unlike in Finnish sauna.

Early Middle-Age Europe there was bathhouses build next to several monasteries. Washing and healing waters believed to have powers to purify the soul as well.

Later in the Middle-Ages and Renaissance era Europe was battlefield of constant different religious conflicts. Bathhouses  in monasteries started to get questionable reputation as vulgar entertainment and destroyer of morality. Which is why bathhouse culture disappeared from most parts of Europe for a long time. It is interesting to think why sauna culture has survived in Finland 'till today.

I doubt that modern Finns put lots of thought to wonder why they go to sauna or why Finns love to be in the sauna. Once I read lovely comparison; it said that; sauna is as important for Finns as drinking tea for English. I'm a Finn and don't spent much time analyzing why I go to sauna. It's a learned habit. Maybe it's a subconscious habit. Perhaps I go to sauna because my ancestors did.

Once I read a theory that was created by some foreign professors. They thought that ancient Finns went to sauna to do sun worship rituals. I think this theory is quite amusing. I don't believe it's very accurate since the first saunas that have been found in Finland are earth saunas (ground saunas).
Earth sauna is a sauna build underground. You can only see a tiny bulge and chimney coming up from the ground. Naturally earth sauna is extremely dark place so I don't really buy the sun worship theory. 

Earth sauna

Most common sauna type beside earth sauna is the forest sauna. Forest saunas is type where most of the modern Finnish saunas are based on. 

Ever since there has been people living in Finland there also has been saunas. Ancient Finns had animistic/shamanistic world view. According to animistic world view everything in nature has it's own soul and spirit. In Finland nature and four seasons are constantly present in the everyday life. Sauna is relevant during each seasons and especially around major holidays like Midsummer celebration and Christmas.

Imagine a person who lived in ancient Finland. If he wanted to build a house for himself first he would build the sauna. Building a house was very time consuming and very sweaty thing to do. This person could live in the sauna until the house was ready. 

Ancient Finns also gave birth in the sauna. It was very common that coming mother and her midwifes  spent several days living in the sauna, even weeks while preparing coming mother for giving birth (this custom was also practiced in all three Baltic countries; Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania where saunas are called as pirtis). 

Sauna was also related to death. If person died his or her body was washed in the sauna and body was also left to the sauna until the burial.  

There is also lots of Finnish folklore and myths related to sauna: 
According to Kalevala Poems first cats were born in the Sauna


"Birth of the cat"
(c) Niina Niskane

"I know the cat's origin
the incubation of Graybeard
The cat was gotten on a stove
as a girls nose
a hares head
a tail of "Hiisi's plait of hair"
claws of a viper
a tail of snakes venom
Feet of cloud berries
the rest of it's body
is of the wolf's race"

Graybeard refers to an elf who blew life to the cats on a stove.

There is lot's of elf mythology in Finland.

One myth tells that person who build the sauna or first time took a bath in the sauna became the guardian spirit of the sauna, sauna elf.

Sauna was related to birth, life and death. In many ways sauna was seen as a portal between the visible world and the invinsible spiritual world.

According to the animistic world view of the ancient Finns human beings had three souls (I will make separate blog post about this at some point). One of the soul was called löyly. Löyly represented life inside the body; breathing and other body functions. Löyly is one of the oldest words in Finnish language still used by modern Finns but now löyly represents the steam rising from the sauna stove. Word is very similar in other Finno-Ugric languages.
In Hungarian language löyly is called lelek and in mari language löyly is called lel.


Perhaps the biggest part of sauna in shamanism has been it's relaxing and healing affects. That are still recognized today.

It has been scientifically proved that going to sauna can release stress, steam breathing helps with allergies, being in the sauna can ease physical pain in the body and help with sleeping problems.

Since I live abroad sometimes I've come across with people that have lot's of weird prejudices about sauna. Especially the fact that Finns go to sauna naked confuses people from other cultures.
Sauna however is foremost an asexual place. For some it is place for social events and some enjoy just being in their own company. 

Since there are saunas in majority of Finnish homes it can be very private place as well. In bathhouses and swimming halls it is not recommended that people were swimsuits in saunas because they release toxic to the air. Then again Finnish swimming halls have separate saunas and showers for men and women.  There are also public saunas in Finland. Many times you can find them around summer in the public beaches and other places. In public sauna swimming suits are of course mandatory.

Majority of saunas in modern Finnish homes are electric ones. You can also find smoke saunas and wooden saunas. Especially in the summer cabins and in the country side. 



One of the major elements in Finnish sauna culture is vihta (western Finland) or vasta (eastern Finland). Vihta/vasta is bouquet made from tree branches. Originally vihta/vasta has meant broomstick made from leaves. I'm going to use word vasta now since that's the one I usually use.
Traditionally Finns tap them selves and each others with vasta when they are in the sauna. This also goes way back to the shamanistic practice. Vastominen was a magical process where person could clean their body from sickness and bad thoughts. Also if family wanted to have lovely scent to the sauna vasta was left to stay in a bucket filled with water over night and the next day this water was poured to the sauna stove. Sometimes people also might throw bucket of beer to the stove and get very earthy scent from that as well. Vastominen also has scientific influences on one's health since it increases blood flowing faster. 

In the old days people did lot's of magic during Midsummer. Making vasta's to the midsummer sauna was also folk magic. Different trees had different meanings so the person could pick tree branches from those trees that he or she wanted to have power. For example vasta made from oak tree leaves was believed to bring wisdom and knowledge, different kinds of flowers in vasta was great for love spells. If person wanted to stay in good health all year around they should pick branches from blackcurrant bushes.

Vasta is not only Finnish or Slavic thing. Native Americans also use vasta's in their sweat tents and in the anciet Maya culture Mayas used vasta's in their sweating rooms. Interestingly enough vasta's of the Mayas were made from corn leafs. 

Photo sources: Yle ja kuva-arkisto

torstai 21. tammikuuta 2016

Severus Snape... Always

"Severus Snape...Always"
Watercolor and white charcoal on cold pressed acid free watercolor paper
2016

I was truly devastated last week when I heard that one of my favorite actors of all the time Alan Rickman had passed away. Often he played the villain but what I heard he was truly a kindred spirit in his personal life. 
Captain Brandon in Sense and sensibility, Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood, Severus Snape in Harry Potter-films and tons of other great roles he played.

I was actually working with this portrait of Snape when I heard the news.
Incredible depth he brought to the character of Severus Snape.

Here is time lapse of my painting process


                                      

Rest in peace Alan Rickman

You'll be in our hearts...Always

keskiviikko 20. tammikuuta 2016

sunnuntai 17. tammikuuta 2016

Mulan


My review on Disney's Mulan

Mulan is Disney animated film released back in 1998 and it's Disney classic number 36.


Plot

China is in the edge of destruction. Tribes from the north are about to attack and their fearsome leader Shan Yu wants to concur all China. In peaceful Chinese village young Mulan is on her way to meet the matchmaker. Meeting does not go so well and Matchmaker believes that Mulan's is bringing only shame for her family.

Mulan is sad and disappointed for herself. Her father tries to comfort her. At the same time Emperor's console arrives and announces that one man from each family should join the army and defend China and the emperor. Mulan's father Fa Zhou who served in the army in his younger years sees that it is his duty to defend his country. Mulan knows her father is old and sick and he wouldn't survive. Father and daughter have an argument and during the night Mulan cuts her hair and steels her father's armor and joins the army as a man called Ping.


In the morning Mulan's family notices that she is gone. Mulan's grandmother prays family ancestors to protect Mulan. Ancestors decide to send family's guardian stone dragon to protect Mulan. Mushu who used to family's protector dragon, now a cong-player, manages to break the stone dragon. Mushu takes his place and goes after Mulan and hopes that ancestors would forgive him and make him family's protector dragon again.


Mulan also has her lucky cricket Si-Ri to help her. Luck is what Mulan needs since Mushu's advice's aren't always the best ones. Recently promoted Captain Shang want's to make his troops best in all China. In the beginning Mulan gets lot's of new enemies just by being clumsy. Nevertheless she proofs to be tough and talented warrior. Mulan makes friends with three soldiers Yao, Ling and Chien Po. She has a crush on Captain Shang but of course she can not reveal anyone that she is actually a woman.


Mushu get's tired boring life in the army camp. He and Si-Ri decrease a letter where general Li (Shang's father) orders his son and troops to follow him to the mountains. Once they get their it's horrible sight. Huns have killed everyone in the mountain village and there is nothing left from emperors army anymore than Captain Shang and his troops. 

As they continue their journey they get attack by the Huns. Mulan saves the troops and Captain Shang by lighting a firework that causes a snowfall. She get's wounded and once doctor examines her everyone find out that she is really a woman. Woman in the army is against the law and Shang should kill Mulan then and there. Mulan however saved his life so he spares hers. Troops leave her to the mountains and continue their journey to the forbidden city.


While sitting in the mountains Mulan sees that Huns and their leader Shan Yu are still alive. She travels to the forbidden city to warn Captain Shang. Captain however does not listen to her and Shan Yu manages to kidnap the Emperor. Mulan asks her friends Yao, Ling and Shien Po to dress up as emperors mistresses. Together they fight against huns and Captain Shang manages to save the emperor. Mulan escapes to the roof and fights there with Shan Yu. Mushu lights up fireworks and that is the end of Shan Yu. Mulan and Mush are saved last minute before whole palace is destroyed.


Emperor rewards Mulan and is eternally grateful for her for saving China. He offers Mulan a job as a royal counselor. Mulan doesn't take the offer she just wants to return back home to her family. After touching goodbyes Mulan returns to her home village. She gives emperor's gifts to her father but Fa Zhou is just happy that her daughter has returned home. At the same time Captain Shang comes to return the helmet Mulan forgot. Mulan asks him to stay for dinner and her tactful grandmother asks him to stay for eternity. Mushu is promoted as protector of the Fa's family and movie ends ancestors having a great party.



Legend of Mulan

Disney's Mulan is based on a Chinese poem called Ballad of Mulan from 6th Century.I have a  blog text about Ballad of Mulan you can read it here.

Original poem itself is quite short but after the first literal version appeared there has been tons different versions about the legend of Mulan in Chinese literature, theater, art, comics and movies.

Disney's Mulan is pretty loyal to the original story of Mulan. Of course in the Disney movie there is lot's of new characters and humor. Still the plot and character descriptions are pretty much the same.

Disney had difficulties to get Mulan to Chinese cinema distribution. Few years before Mulan Disney founded movie Kundun that told about the life of Dalai Lama. Tibet's spiritual leader. Kundun was seen as a protest movie against China since Tibet is controlled by Chinese government. 

China takes 10 western movies to cinema distribution each year. Surprisingly Mulan made it to Chinese movie theaters. Chinese reviews were very conflicted and film was seeing too much western type of movie about Mulan.

Ironically some american extreme-feminists criticized Disney's Mulan for being too submissive female character. Which in my opinion is ridiculous considering  that movie takes place in ancient China where women were submissive to men Mulan being the only acception. Disney storytellers were historically accurate. This kind of behavior really makes Disney obsessive feel embarrassment for some people.


Finding one's identity

In China Mulan has been a patriotic symbol. Ballad of Mulan is mostly developed around the idea that no matter if you are a man or a woman  you can still be heroic and bring glory to your country and family. It is very remarkable as a Chinese poem and really has made a big cultural differences the way it raises questions about gender roles and identity. In a country where traditional roles of women have been shifted just in the past 50 years this is remarkable. 

Disney's version is more about finding one's identity and breaking the traditional gender roles. In many ways Mulan was a groundbreaking Disney animation as well since Disney has reputation to be quite conservative studio. Mulan started this whole new generation of active and capable Disney female heroes. We could already see them in Esmeralda in Huntchback of Notre Dame and Megara in Hercules but all these characters shared the screen space with leading men characters. Without Mulan we might not have Merida from Brave and Elsa from Frozen. 

Disney studios started to make Mulan in 1994. Disney animators were sent to China to research Chinese landscapes, art and architecture. There is also Chinese inventions in the animation such as paper and fireworks. Mulan was premiered in 1998 and it became huge hit. It was financially second successful family-movie of the year Bugs life going ahead.  

Mulan

Leading lady of Mulan is of course Mulan. We get familiar with Mulan's character straight in the beginning when she is writing cheat sheet to her hand. Mulan is very found of her family especially her father. When things don't go as planned with the matchmaker Mulan feels depressed and sad she has brought shame to her family. Mulan is very brave, unselfish and emphatic.


There is many reasons why Mulan chooses to go the army. She want's to protect her father. Perhaps after the incident with the matchmaker she doesn't really care anymore about her reputation. In the beginning of the movie Mulan tries adopt the traditional Chinese female role. When she joins the army that is when she starts breaking the gender role. In the army she finds her confidence and inner strength. With her intelligence she saves all China and it is her emphatic character that she wins soldiers, Emperor and Captain Chang to her side. In the end of the movie Mulan understands that she doesn't need to adopt traditional role of a man or woman. It is enough that she is just herself.


Fa Zhou
Mulan's father Fa Zhou is a very kind man. In the original poem Ballad of Mulan it was said that Mulan's father raised her like a son. When Mulan decides to take his father's place in the army father doesn't object but he is not happy either. In the Disney animation Mulan doesn't tell her family that she is about to leave. In both versions common thing is the warm respectful relationship between father and daughter.
Fa Zhou is famous character in the army. When he was younger he used to be a soldier. When Mulan can not bring honor to her family as an unmarried woman. Can she bring honor as a man following her father's foot steps? Fa Zhou is kind, foreseeing and wise father who tells Mulan to follow her own path.

Li Shang


Li Shang is recently promoted Captain. He is strict about order and good behavior and he has very good physical appearance (which we can see in the training camp scene). Shang is also emphatic character. This shows up in the scenes where he is with his father the general and in the end of the movie when he goes to see Mulan. We also see his vulnerability when he realizes that his father has died in the attack.

Mushu and rest of the gang 


Mushu brings comical relief to the story. Mushu is a former protector dragon of the Fa's family. Mushu brings intelligent humor to the movie that amuses both children and adults. Mushu wants Mulan to become successful and these two share a special bond. Mulan herself is a bit introvert character and Mushus appearance brings nice balance to the film.


Other funny side-characters are Mulan's not-very-discreet grandmother. Three soldiers Yao, Ling and Shien Po. These three always make me think of three musketeers. Three armybuddies that are closed as brothers. They all like Ping (Mulan) and accept him (her) to their gang. Best thing about these three is their different characteristics. Tiny Yao who has anger control issues, Tall and joking Ling and calm chubby Shien Po who has very Buddha-like appearance. 


Shan Yu

Shan Yu is the bad guy of the film. He is the fearsome leader of the Huns. He is a cruel man and wants to take over China and sees it as a challenge. He wants to destroy the Emperor. In his eyes Emperor challenged him by starting to build the great wall of China. Shan Yu doesn't feel pity or mercy and kills everyone that are on his way.

Animation and music

Animation style in Mulan is extremely beautiful. Animators put lot's of effort for constant quality and style that reminds Chinese visual art. Computer technique was also used in Mulan especially in scenes with huge crowds but the scenes made with computer blend very well with 2D animation.

In my opinion Mulan is Disney animation with fabulous music.
First song Honor to us all is very humorist and right in the beginning viewer realize what meeting the matchmaker is all about. 


                                   

Second song Reflections in extremely beautiful and fits perfectly for the mood Mulan must be feeling at that moment.


                                     

Third song I make man out of you is one of my favorite Disney songs of all time.
 It shows how Captain Shang manages to create perfect army unit from group of lazy slackers. We can also see how Ping (Mulan) becomes respected part of the team when in the end of the song he (she) climbs to the end of the pole to get the arrow.


                                       

Fourth song A girl worth fighting for takes place when group is marching towards mountains singing about women. Time to time Mulan says things about women's intelligence and get's weird looks back.


                                        




Romance

In certain way Mulan is different compared to many other Disney princesses out there. According to her family tree Mulan isn't a princess or a royal for that matter. But term "Disney princess" is very flowing. Basically any Disney female leading character can be categorized as Disney Princess like Jane from Tarzan and Alice of Wonderland are also called "Disney princesses". Which is a bit silly but that's just people stereotyping Disney animations. 

Mulan does breaks the tradition since we don't see the romance in the movie. We see the beginning of possible romance. We see how Mulan gets very found of Captain Shang but of course pretending to be a man she can not reveal her feelings to him.  In the end of the movie Shang comes to Mulan's home village to return her helmet.. well helmet is an excuse to see her again and before that Emperor himself has given him some good advice. It is up to viewers imagination what happens between these two characters.

Overall 

I think I watched Mulan on video (yes on video!) first time sometimes between 1998-1999. I remember always considered it as a good movie though in my eyes it didn't get to the same level with Disney's renaissance-era animations from the early 90's.  But I must admit when I watched Mulan again in my winter break for this blog text, with careful eye of Disney researcher and I also did research about the legend of "real" Mulan at the same time. My appreciation for this film has risen tremendously. If I gave three stars before now it's straight four!

There is great balance between humor and drama in Mulan and neither one get's over the top.
Movie is loyal for it's original source and handles important issues that are relevant in today's world as well.

Mulan's universal theme of finding ones identity touches as all no matter who we are or where we come from.


All pictures in this blog texts are property of Walt Disney company


torstai 7. tammikuuta 2016

Fairy tale origins: Mulan


This time we'll travel all the way to ancient China. I've always been very curious about the legend of Mulan. Most of the western people probably know her from the Disney animation. After I did all research for this blog post (and for personal enjoyment) I've actually started to appreciate the Disney Mulan way more as well. There is great stories around this mysterious warrior.
 Who was Mulan?

Hua Mulan is one of the most legendary women of ancient China. There isn't archaeological proves of her existence but her legend has survived in literal works and Chinese folk-tales 'till today. Original folk song Ballad of Mulan appeared sometimes between 386 eaa and 533 in northern Wei Dynasty. Since the appearance of the first literal works in the 6th century about legend of Mulan Chinese writers, poets, play writers and artists have been inspired by her character.

According to the legend Mulan was very much a tomboy since early age. She learned domestic tasks from her mother such weaving but also martial arts from his aging soldier father who raised him like a boy.

17- year old Mulan was washing clothes when she heard that army was recruiting new soldiers. Her father was already in old age and ill. She knew he wouldn't survive in the war. Mulan decides to disguise as a man and takes his place. Thanks to her excellent skills army is more than happy to recruit her. Father is not pleased about her decisions but does not stop her either. Her mother is more worried about her fame and is afraid that her daughter doesn't arrive back from the army as a virgin. Mulan ensures that she returns home as virtuous woman.

Mulan does her best to hide her gender in the army. In fear of accidentally revealing her true identity she stands on guard during the night shifts. Her excellent battle skills cause jealousy among some other solders like Zhang Shazi who makes fun of her. Others like office Jin Yong become good friends with her but they don't know her secret.

For 10 years of battle Mulan is promoted as general. Two friends battle side by side and Mulan fells in love with Jin Yong who still not know Mulan is a woman. In a surprise attack against enemy one evening Mulan gets wounded and she is forced to reveal her true identity. After recovering from the first shock Mulan's troops start to respect her even more. Jin Yong also realizes that he loves Mulan.

After another successful triumph emperor of China wanted to reward Mulan. She however was tired of seeing only war around her and only wished for a horse to return home.

Some stories tell that Jin Yong died in the battle field while saving Mulan's life and she committed suicide to be with him for eternity. In some stories she returns to her home just to realize that her father has passed away. She doesn't want to return to the army and becomes a weaving woman. Still she can not forget her life in the army. She sees dreams of battles. We don't know do these dreams haunt her or does she subconsciously misses the thrive of the battle. Other stories tell that Mulan and Jin Yong left the solder life and spent rest of their lives together.



4th and 5th century China was suffering under invasion of Mongolian tribes and other nomadic ethnic groups. Wars lasted nearly 3 centuries in many different parts of the country. In these times of utter hopeless legend of ultimate solder with a secret became extremely popular. Though there isn't direct historical proves of Mulan's true existance (yet). There is possibility that legend of Mulan was born from several different female warriors that lived in China between 5th and 6th centuries and these stories have been evolved to one great legend.

Character of Mulan still lives in Chinese popular culture in literature, comics, plays, movies and many other things. She appears time to time when Chinese people look for uplifting characters in harsh times to remind themselves of ultimate courage.



In my opinion Disney Mulan is quite true to the legend of Mulan. I especially like the end of the Disney film. It is not a typical Disney ending where princess (Mulan) automatically gets her prince in the end (Captain Li Shang in Disney version represents Jin Yong of the original story). Instead in the film we see them becoming good friends in the army but after Mulan's true identity is revealed Shang with very mixed up feelings doesn't have any other choice than throw her away from the army. After the epic fight in the forbidden city and Mulan's return home Shang comes to look for her and end is left open and it is up to watcher's imagination to think what happens between these two.

 In many ways Ballad of Mulan has served with patriotic purposes when Disney's Mulan is more about female power and gender roles. I will make separate review on the Disney animation here to my blog soon.

What makes all these stories of Mulan so incredibly fascinating is the quest of one's true identity. In many versions Ballad of Mulan Mulan herself doubts her heroism and idea of a true hero. Can woman be a hero while waiting her husband from the war and raising new fighters to be sacrificed or are only solders heroes dying for their country? Sometimes she even questions is she a man or a woman. What defines a  man and what defines a woman? What defines a soldier? Is she a man now that she is leading troops to battle? or is she just a country girl wearing a harness?

 Especially in China, country where traditional gender roles have been shifting just in the past century story of Mulan has inspired not just those looking for patriotic inspiration or courage but also anyone who battles with gender roles in today's world, looking for their identity or purpose in their lives.
That is the legacy of Mulan.

perjantai 1. tammikuuta 2016

Beauty and the beast : Enchanted Christmas


It's time for my first Disney review in the blog.

This Blog text is about Beauty and the Beast: Enchanted Christmas.

Beauty and the beast: Enchanted Christmas is animated movie appeared in 1997 and it's a sequel for the Disney classic Beauty and the Beast from 1991.

In the animation the story is told as flashbacks. Flashbacks are from the time when Belle was still a prisoner in the Beast's castle.

If you haven't seen this movie this is a spoiler warning!

Story

Beauty and the Beast: Enchanted Christmas starts from a Christmas party. That takes place in a time after the events of the first movie. The most important side-characters from the first movie Lumiere, Mrs. Pott, Chip and Cogsworth are re-living their memories and chat how Belle brought Christmas celebration back to the castle.

In the flashbacks we'll go back to the winter of the first movie. Flashback begins from Belle's escape when Beast saved her from the pack of wolves. Belle tries to get beast to open more. They go skating together and make snow angels.Beasts however shutters down more. He is ashamed by his looks and is filled with grudge towards winter. Sometimes Belle feels herself desperate and almost looses her hope with the beast.


In the second flashback we'll find out why Beast feels grudge towards winter. He was turned from human to beast in Christmas. Villain of the movie is Forte, pipe organ who was court composer in his human form. Fronte's sidekick is Fife, little flute. Fronte promises Fife that he will get's his own solo to play if he helps him to sabotage Christmas and Belle's and the beasts relationship.  We also see Fronte's human character in the flashbacks. As a human he didn't get the admiration he wanted so he prefers to stay as pipe organ since Beast is always his audience and finds his music comfortable.  One of the most memorable scenes with Beast and Fronte is the scene where Fronte tells Beast to destroy the magic rose. However beast knows that if he destroys the rose he also would loose his human side completely and also looses his capacity to give and receive love.

Belle decides to give Christmas party at least for the servants even if Beast wouldn't agree. Servants start to prepare Christmas in secret. Belle and Chip go to the forest to find a tree after Fronte recommends them to do so. Fife causes and accident and Belle nearly drowns. Beast saves her but is extremely mad because she didn't obey his orders. One of the saddest scenes in the movie occurs when Beast throws Belle back to the dungeons and Belle says "I should have known you'll always remain as a beast". Fife is shocked that he caused the accident and he starts to question Fronte's motifs.


Soon Belle and the beast get a long again and castle folk starts to prepare Christmas. Fronte gets furious and almost destroys the castle but ends up destroying himself.

I especially like the end of the movie. We'll go back to the "present day". Mrs Potts has finished her story. Belle and prince welcome everyone to the Christmas Party and Fife has become new court conductor. 

Beast

Beast in my personal opinion is one of the most interesting characters in the history of animation. Beauty and the Beast is my favorite movie of all time (not just an animation but a movie). He is very complex character: aggressive, lovable, endearing, scary, protective, beast, arrogant, prince and has humanity. In away Beast remembers his life as human prince with shame and he is also shamed of his beastly outlook. He is constantly afraid that he might become full-beast and he is also aware that when he was a human even then he behaved beastly towards others. He is also afraid of the idea to return back to a human because he has fear can he change his beastly behavior even then? Solitude and isolation also causes him anxiety. He sees Belle as an angelic creature and the more they spent time together the more he is touch with his human side. As their relationship becomes warmer Belle starts to understand the beast and his inner struggle. That is when their romance start. 



Belle

As a viewer I find new and interesting aspects from Belle as a character. Especially in the beginning of Beauty and the Beast Belle is described to be someone who in away lives in imaginary world. She dreams about interesting exiting life and adventures. Later in the movie Belle becomes more active character and is more aware of things happening around her. In the Enchanted Christmas Belle really tries to get Beast more involved in winter activities and tries to make him appreciate the lovely things in Christmas. Belle is beautiful character. She is overall friendly towards people she meets. She is polite even for Fronte though she clearly doesn't like him.

Servants

New characters are Fronte and Fife. Fronte reminds me of Frollo in the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Not by appearance but attitude. Fronte is very arrogant character. One way he tries to get Beast to dislike Belle is by singing a song about evil charms of women. Fife is typical bit stupid side-kick of the villain. He does have a concurrence and he feels guilt of his actions and viewers forgive him when he jumps to the other side.

Angelique is castle's decorator who was turned into a angel decoration also Christmas balls who I assume to be Angelique's assistants. We don't see Angelique a lot in the movie. It is clear that she loves Christmas and she either decorates the castle and have big celebration or she doesn't celebrate at all. 

When I watched to movie I wondered is there lot's of non-living things in the castle? If servants were turned to things like Christmas decorations? do they have real Christmas decoration? or dishes? maybe they have them more in storage.

I love all scenes with Lumiere and Cogsworth. As a dry humorous British Cogsworth doesn't easily warm up Lumiere's french charm. Mrs. Potts is caring motherly character as always and Chip is his cheerful self.


Disney's imaginary locations

I would like to correct some Disney misunderstandings that people have about the animation locations.
No one shouldn't say that Beauty and the Beast takes place historically accurately in France. Beauty and the Beast takes place in to imaginary 17th century France. Characters speak french (not just in french versions of the movie) some characters speak with french accent. There are songs where they mention France. In both movies characters speak about baroque - architecture and style which was dominant style in 17th century France. Also in the Beauty and Beast: Enchanted Christmas there is also yule-log that is traditional Christmas desert in France.

Movie itself is not historically direct portrait from 17th century France that is why I prefer to talk about imaginary France. Same way as Aladdin takes place in imaginary Agrabah and Frozen takes place in imaginary Norway.

Unlike for example Pocahontas which takes place in historically accurate 17th century Jamestown. Aristocats early 20th century Paris and  Great Mouse Detective to London of Sherlock Holmes.

In many animations imaginary country or place is very good solution. In that case story is not bound to certain time period or place but story can get influences and inspirations from certain time period, style, culture and place. One famous fairy tale versions made from Beauty and the Beast is Charles Perrault's fairy tale. Perrault himself was famous in 17th century France. Without doubt animators and story team were inspired by baroque style and french landscapes.

Overall

Beauty and the beast: Enchanted Christmas is not worst what it comes to Disney sequels. There is even character development of certain  level.   This is animation sequel and that's not the same thing than Disney's animation classic. Overall it's nice additions for those who enjoy Disney's Christmas / holiday themed films and also some Beauty and the Beast fans can enjoy it.