By Jack Williams
An intrigued adventure has travelled across the world, chasing and recreating what is believed to be the real-life tale behind the Disney classic BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.
Alison Teal spent months looking into the 16th Century legend, snapping images and capturing footage similar to those shot in the now-famous movie.
According to Alison and a number of well-known records, the original “beast” was a man named Petrus Gonsalvus, who was born in Tenerife, the Canary Islands, in 1537.
Gonsalvus was reported to have had a condition since birth called hypertrichosis – aka “Werewolf syndrome” – where most of his body was covered in hair.
It is believed that, in 1547, he came to the court of Henry II, the King of France, as a coronation gift.
There, Gonsalvus – who had been described as a “man of the woods” or a wildman – was believed have been kept behind bars for observation, before those studying him later realized that he was a hairy human and a young boy, not a mythical creature.
According to Alison: “Before the king and his court realized Petrus was a human covered in hair, the king kept him behind bars and fed him raw meat.
“Petrus was eventually freed, educated and became a member of the king’s court.”
Gonsalvus would eventually marry a woman named Catherine (last name unknown), who was once portraited in a yellow dress, like the one Belle wore in the movie.
It is reported that four of their seven children also suffered from hypertrichosis.
This journey – and romance – is believed to have formed the basis for the Disney movie, and in order to document this, Alison travelled to the likes of the Canary Islands and throughout France.
In order to recreate famous scenes from the movie, Alisonvisited the Chenonceau Castle and Blois Castle, in France, where she recreated famous scenes from the movie, accompanied by a production team and her very own beast.
Alison said: “We only had one day to capture the re-creation photos at the castle and during the shoot a massive windstorm swept in and billowed under my huge hoop skirt, which almost threw me off the castle wall into the moat.
“I felt like a true adventure princess on a mission to restore morals and magic to our world.
“This film tells the story of the real people and events that inspired Beauty and the Beast as a way to spread an important moral: do not judge people based upon physical appearance.
“In our modern and connected world we should embrace differences without judgement or rejection.
“I’m excited to continue unlocking true stories behind fairy tales, uncovering ancient mysteries, and researching cultural legends from around the world in order educate through entertainment.”
A short film on Alison’s travels can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ox50e9t0hFM&feature=youtu.be