‘Beauty and the Beast’ review (more like love letter)
When I was little, I had Beauty and the Beast on VHS and I can’t even tell you how many times I watched it. It brought me so much joy to know there was a Disney Princess with my colour hair and was a booklover too. Sharing these traits meant that I would inevitably marry a rich Prince with a killer library, right?
As an impressionable young girl, this film taught me a few things:
- Liking books made me “strange, but special” and this gave me a short-lived superiority complex.
- Playing hard to get seems to work better than openly swooning, a lesson I would forget in my twenties.
- Being attracted to a beast is okay, as long as he has a heart of gold. This caused a sexual awakening that, to this day, I still don’t understand: I somehow preferred the cartoon beast over the cartoon man. Hmmm, foreshadowing my future taste in men, perhaps?
- People won’t believe in the existence of said beast, but they will take the existence of a magical mirror on face value.
- And….. something about not being judgemental…. I forget the rest.
The news of a live-action remake caused excitement, nerves and a hunger for popcorn. I liked the casting, although I was unsure of accepting Matthew Crawley as the beast, I mean, he can’t drive a car properly, how can he embody The Beast? (Still too raw, Downton Abbey fans?)
I was pleased with the casting of Emma Watson as Belle because she is my spirit animal and Luke Evans as Gaston because he is delicious. Well, not AS delicious as this guy, right? Jokes.
But what about the plot?
The original film already showed that Belle seemed to enjoy a certain amount of autonomy. While her father was busy making things, she kept the house running and was free to read to her hearts content. Belle was even free to turn down Gaston’s advances because she wanted more than “this provincial life.” A possible insult to those who enjoy a provincial life, or a song about wanting adventure, either one.
This remake takes those aspects of Belle and turns them up a notch. She is a skilled inventor too, just like her father and encourages other girls to learn to read. She is much more active as a prisoner also, which I found to be more believable.
Having said that, the entire plot does revolve around Belle suffering from Stockholm syndrome and not really getting the adventure she longed for. I always take issue with women halting their adventures as soon as they find love, but then again, this is a fairy tale. This film is not meant to be a guidebook for how to live our lives and it’s possible we expect too much from a storyline that originates from the 18th Century.
An openly gay Disney character
There was a lot of media coverage of the first openly gay character in a Disney film. Really? Is this news? If we want to move forward in accepting everyone for who they are, I think the hubbub (yes, I said hubbub) did more harm than good. There were cinemas that actually refused to show the film because of LeFou’s sexuality. For fuck’s sake. After all the drama, I was expecting to see him make out with a dude, or at the very least cop a feel, but I was sincerely disappointed. Josh Gad was fantastic as LeFou and I understand that Disney might want to take things slow when it comes to a character’s sexuality, but the subtleties would have been easily missed by a child and I think that’s a missed opportunity for Disney.
Gap-fill those plot holes
Just like a solid tube of gap-filler, the remake plugs a few of those pesky plot-holes. In the original, why did no one else remember the Prince or those who worked there? What happened to Belle’s mother? (Well this is a Disney film, and we all know mothers are never safe at Disney. Think about it: Bambi , Pocahontas, Jasmine, Ariel are all without mothers and Snow White and Cinderella are orphans. What the actual fuck?) and why was Belle so quick to take her father’s place as a prisoner?
As a kid, my imagination took care of these story gaps, but it was fantastic to see how the live-action version took care of these questions and a few more that I never even thought to question.
There are a couple of new songs, some cut scenes and really snappy dialogue. If you loved the original, you will love this. If you’re not that fussed about it, you will love this. If Disney is not your thing, what the heck is wrong with you? Just look!
Go and see it, you’ll love it!
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