Beauty and the Beast was originally a 1991 animated musical romantic fantasy film produced and released by Walt Disney Pictures. It was the 30th Disney animated feature film and the third released during the Disney Renaissance period (1989-1999), where films were created as adaptations of well known stories from around the world. Beauty & The Beast takes place in a comfortable village in France, called Villeneuve, outside of the woods near a castle owned by a prince who is magically transformed into a monster as punishment for his arrogance towards an enchantress seeking shelter from a storm. A beautiful young woman named Belle resides in the village and when her father goes missing, she sends out on a journey to find him. However, her journey leads her to the prince’s castle. This ferocious beast has imprisoned her father and plans to keep him locked away. Until Belle decides to exchange her life for her fathers and becomes prisoner to the beast. The beast agrees to it because in order for him to break the curse bestowed upon him and become a prince again, he must find someone who can love him for what’s on the inside before the last petal on the enchanted rose falls off.
Here’s the trailer for the original 1991 animated film.
Oops, I totally forgot to mention that not only was the prince cursed but his entire palace staff: the butler, the maid and her son, the tailor/stylist, and his personal assistant’s. So they decide to help the beast break the spell by showing Belle some true hospitality (as you saw in their fanciful music number, “Be Our Guest”). Oh yeah and one more thing you should probably know. [SPOILER ALERT!] There’s this total JERK named Gaston who wants Belle to be his stay at home wife and she has absolutely no interest in his male chauvinist attitude and turns him down several times. When Gaston finds out that Belle has been captured by and falls in love with some beast, he decides to find the beast and kill him. However, that doesn’t work out too well for Gaston…
Now, if you’re a true fan of Disney films you’ll notice that this fight scene is very similar to the fight between Tarzan and Clayton in the 1999 animated version of Tarzan. In both films, the true hero/good guy wins and the male chauvinist JA falls to his death. You’ve got to love kid films (cause we all know it doesn’t always happen like that in real life). Anyway, back to the review.
25 years later, Disney decides to reveal a trailer for the upcoming Beauty & The Beast live action film set to be released in March 2017, where Beauty is played by Emma Watson and The Beast is played by Dan Stevens.
I went to theaters to see this new version of Beauty & The Beast because 1. it is one of my favorite Disney princess films and 2. Emma Watson as Belle?! I had to see it! I’m a HUGE Harry Potter fan and considering that Belle was such a bookworm, I thought the same actress that played Hermaine Granger would be an iconic selection for the part of Belle. I will say that the film met my expectations and then some. The stage design, graphics, and overall story line was amazing. They didn’t take anything away from the essence of the original film. If anything they enhanced it with subtle changes/addition like:
The blonde triplets are changed to brunettes. This may not seem like a big deal but these triplets also had way more speaking lines in the animated film that were meant to boost Gaston’s ego. They barely said anything in the live adaptation of the film! It was not something I thought would even be noticeable but as someone who studied women’s ideal body image, media portrayal and acceptance, as well as, the voice women are given in media, it did add a subliminal change to the elements of femininity and what’s attractive versus what’s not.
In the animation featuring the blonde triplets, Gaston ignores these gorgeous blonde yet overzealous women and goes for the plain brunette beauty with book smarts. Gaston’s goal is to marry Belle because he thinks that she’ll take good care of him. However, in the live action we see that the blondes are changed to brunettes and Belle is still a brunette herself. This evens the playing field between the women even though Belle is clearly more beautiful (which also makes the brunette triplets seem less appealing) but also the fact that Belle has smarts and speaks her mind versus the brunette triplets who barely say a thing. They just kind of sit on the sidelines in awe. It made the attractive dynamic a lot more focused on Belle rather than on the blondes.
Next, we get a reference to The Sound of Music as Emma Watson’s sings her version of “Belle” to a very familiar scenic backdrop.
Then, we realize that Lefou was originally just a short, fluffy character used as innocent comic relief. But now, he has been transformed to the hot topic of LGBTIQA characters in Disney’s films with his questionable line: “My what a guy, that Gaston!” in the song “Gaston,” which can be interpreted as, “I want a guy like Gaston!” Either way, Lefou is still a great character to me. I’m all for equal human rights.
Lastly, we see a developed backstory of Belle and even Prince Adam (the Beast). In Belle’s backstory, not only is her father an inventor but she is too! That’s so awesome considering that Hidden Figures also came out this year to reference female breaking boundaries in engineering and technology fields. We get a scene of Belle teaching a girl how to read a book by the local fountain. While she’s doing that there is actually a barrel attached to a mule that’s walking around the fountain, which makes the barrel rotates in a circle doing a full spin cycle on her laundry. Yup, Belle created a washing machine.
As for Prince Adam’s backstory reveal, we get an inside look at his family life. In the animation, we don’t get a sense of who the Beast really is or how he was raised. We just assume that he was some spoiled brat. However, in the live action adaptation there is a scene, after Adam saves Belle and her father from the pack of wolves and they go back to the castle where Belle cleans his wounds, of his mother on her deathbed when he was a child. So much for just being a spoiled brat… Yikes. This kid lost the most special woman in his life at an early age and grew up not really knowing how to appreciate others because he probably felt like the person he loved most was taken from him, which built up a resentment and bitterness in him. So, as he got older he gave up on the world. He saw the woman seeking shelter from a storm and refused her. His regret was instantly granted when he turned into a beast (with a face that only a mother could love, so to speak). That’s one heck of a twist. Anyway, he probably fell in love with Belle because he saw elements of his mother in her or a mother in general because she taught him manners, compassion, and how to love.
Beauty & The Beast is truly a tale as old as time 🙂 <3
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Want to see more Beauty & The Beast? Check out the links below to some more informative yet awesome YouTube videos:
- Lindsey Stirling: Beauty & The Beast
- 17 Easter Eggs Hidden in Beauty & The Beast
- 20 Secrets about the Making of Beauty & The Beast
- 10 Movie Mistakes fixed by Beauty & The Beast
- Best & Worst Changes: 1991 vs 2017