Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Baker and the Beast

I have an idea for a movie.  It's a moving tale of passion and vocation.  I've pitched it to my wife and a few friends, and all agree, it's pretty brilliant.

Since it infringes on all kinds of Disney copyright, and since the premise is kind of ridiculous, it will never actually be made into a movie.  So I figured I'd just pitch it here.

The genesis.

So, I hate pop music.

I am very susceptible to having songs stuck on my head.  And I absolutely hate it. For this reason, I despise pop music with the burning fury of a thousand suns.  I will not enter stores playing pop music, because then I'll have these obnoxious jingles stuck in my head for months.  Solid months.

So I developed a coping mechanism.  When a song gets stuck in my head, I gradually deform the lyrics to make the song stupider and stupider, until it more accurately reflects the worthless string of noises it so truly is.

It's kind of childish, but it makes me feel better.  If I have to be infected with these memetic viruses from every store corner and coffee shop, at least I can mock the virus.  I'd mock the flu too, if I could.

Back to the movie idea.

I went to see Beauty and the Beast a few months ago when it came out.  They repeat the animated Disney version with the classic soundtrack, but in live action and with some slight tweaks to the story.  They seem to have attempted to answer some of the fan speculation questions that Cracked reposts every four months, like why the enchantress cursed all the servants for what the prince did, and they added a lyric here or there, but mostly the same story and same songs from my childhood.

One of the songs from the film got stuck in my head.  The opening song, "Bonjour," where Belle is walking through the village openly dsparaging the simple townsfolke as "provencial" for having to actually work for a living to support their families, instead of getting to read books all day and refuse to do chores.

The song isn't really as dumb or obnoxious as pop music, but it was in my head, nonstop for weeks.  And when I have an earworm eating my brain I start getting a tad resentful.  So I started changing the words to the song.

But by changing those words, I changed more than just the intro song.  I actually changed the direction of the entire plot, which lead to a completely different movie.  A movie called:

The Baker and the Beast



We open in a small town in post-Revolution France.  A girl stands outside and begins singing just as the sun rises, and people pop out of their windows to great the day with "Bonjour!"

The song begins "There goes the Baker with his tray like always..."

But then rather going on to talk about anything else, the song keeps following the Baker, talking about how awesome his bread is.  People are clamoring for it.

"I'm a baker that is true,
And baking's what I do!
Baking in this small provencial town."

The Baker is actually an exceptionally talented artesan who dreams of baking out in the great wide yonder, of expanding his craft beyond the usual French breads and pastries, but feels constrained by his town.  The townsfolk love him, praising him in song,

"Look there he goes the man who bakes like magic,
Something about how he kneads the dough
And it's flaky and its rare
And there's flavor here to spare
It's really quite incredible....
THIS BREAD!!!!"

Eventually the Baker sets off for the next town over, looking for new flavors and techniques to try.  He wants to perfect his mastery of the craft.  But when wolves attack his carriage, he flees, taking refuge in a haunted castle ruled by a terrible Beast.

Long ago... or, I guess, maybe like ten years ago... the castle was the home of a terrible, spoiled, bratty prince who cared for nothing and no one but himself.  He was ill-tempered, vain, and selfish.  One day an enchantress came to the castle asking for shelter from the cold, and when the prince turned her away, she cursed the prince to become a terrible Beast, and the servants of the castle to be turned in to common household items.  The prince was to remain in such a state until he reformed his ways, until the gruesome Beast outside no longer matched the person inside.

The Baker is imprisoned by this Beast, until the servants come to learn that he is an artesan and a very skilled baker.  The castle is lying in ruins, but the servants hope that if the Baker can take over their kitchen and bring his exceptional talent and drive to the kitchen, more guests will start coming to try to food and maybe the Beast will develop better hospitality.

They invite the Baker to dinner and implore him to stay at the castle as the cook in a musical number, singing,
"Be our chef!
Be our chef!
Use our ovens to their best!"
Eventually the Beast finds out about this and is furious.  Until he tries one of the fresh-baked loaves right out of the oven that the Baker hands to him on one of those wooden spatula things.  The bread is steamy, and flakey, and the dough parts like butter in the Beast's hands.  It's the best bread he's ever eaten.  He's so impressed that he agrees to let the Baker sleep in a room in the castle and have free reign over the castle's kitchen.

It turns out the castle's kitchen is enormous, with all kinds of specializd equipment the baker has never even seen before.  It has stocks of ingredients from places in the world he's never heard of.  He's like a kid in a candy store.  He's like  an atypical bookish girl in a giant library.  The baker takes off, trying everything, a dash of this here, a dash of that there.  He's trying so many new things.  He's growing as a cullinary artist, and for the first time feels unrestrained by the small town where he used to work.

The Beast watches the Baker cooking, and his passion for the craft really moves him. The Beast has never cared about anything in his life in half as much as the Baker cares about making bread.  It's a strange thing for the Beast.  Why is this guy so excited about it?  How does he take such joy in it?

The Beast is curious, and goes from watching in the door to actually standing in the kitchen, untilfinally he asks the Baker to explain what he's doing.  The Baker starts to show him.  Eventually, after a few more days like this, the Beast asks if he can try kneading, and the Baker tells him to wash his hands and dive in.

The Beast isn't the best baker in the world, or even a remotely competent baker, but through this simple activity, something kind of clicks.  He'd been brought up in the lap of luxury, never even refilling his own cups.  But doing this simple work with his hands, he sees a pleasure in it.  When his first attempt at bread comes out of the oven and he sees something he made with actual value, his heart warms.  The Beast starts to understand something about passion in life, and vocation, and persuing excellence at what you do.

The Beast tries baking a few more times, but then moves on to other hobbies like wood working and finds himself more suited to it.  Each day, as he sees how hard it is to make an S-curve in a chair, he starts to appreciate more the luxurious mansion around him and the craftsmanship and care that went into adorning his castle.

While all of this is going on, by the way, the villagers have gotten worried about their Baker.  In particular, one man, Gaston, is concerned because he had been talking to the Baker about investing in his bakery.  Gaston recognized the Baker had exceptional skill, and wanted to use that skill to start a chain of bakeries throughout France with the Baker's recipes.  So he was trying to convince the Baker to accept him as a business partner for a hefty sum of money.

When Gaston learns that the Baker is actually at the castle baking for someone else, he whips up the villagers into a frenzy about the Beast and they march off to kill it.  A fight breaks out at the castle betwen the vilagers and the enchanted servants, but in the end the castle prevails and the vilagers are driven off.

The Beast, who sacrificed himself to protect the Baker, is magically transformed back into a human, now that he has learned the value of hard work.  The rest of the servants revert back to their old selves in their human bodies.  The Baker and Prince live on as friends in the castle, spurring each other to greater excellence in their respected crafts.  The Baker becomes the most famous baker in all of France, while the Prince becomes quite good with woodworking and even sees some demand for his furniture over in Italy.

Everyone lives happily ever after.  Except for Gaston, who falls off a high ledge and dies.

But everyone else lives happily ever after.

So, that's my movie.  What do you think?

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