A Disney Classic Comes to Life on the Big Screen
By: Lucia Rossi
As bad as remakes usually are, this somehow does not apply to the live-action remakes of our favorite childhood Disney stories, especially this year’s “Beauty and the Beast.”
Directed by Bill Condon, this romantic-fantasy takes everything from the original cartoon film that was loved and transforms it into something much more.
With A-list actors, vividly detailed computer graphics, new songs created by the original composer Alan Menken, and plot points that extend the backgrounds of the characters further, this film went to infinity and beyond with expectations.
For young and old audiences, this film doesn’t disappoint with Emma Watson’s surprisingly sweet singing voice and Dan Steven’s blue-eyed beast, finally belting his own tune.
The Beast’s song, “Evermore” grabs at your heart strings with its lamenting tone and lonely lyrics. Josh Groban’s version of the song is also just as moving on the film’s album available on Spotify.
Many added aspects to the film give you more perspective and fills in previous plot holes, which made it all the more satisfying.
You find out what happened to Belle’s mother, actually see how the prince becomes the Beast, learn about the prince’s royal family, hear a song about how the servants feel about being under the curse, see just how involved the enchantress really is and much more.
Other minor changes helped to make the story more realistic, like Gaston (Luke Evans) being an ex-war Captain which explains his bloodthirst. Belle also turned out to be the inventor of her family this time around; her father Maurice (Kevin Kline) made money by working as an artist and tinkerer.
There was also the controversy of LeFou (Josh Gad) being outed as gay, which makes perfect sense as he constantly praises Gaston. Although the American Family Association had over 50,000 signatures boycotting the film just for this fact, the supposed “gay” scene was blown way out of proportion when it was merely two men dancing.
No one even mentions the transgender moment where a male character was happily dressed as a female during the village mob scene at the castle. Disney is clearly embracing diversity.
The supporting actors added magic to the film with their singing skills and revamp of “Be Our Guest.” Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellan, and Emma Thompson as Lumiere, Cogsworth, and Mrs. Potts gave the performance life with their humorous, sensitive, and positive personalities.
Nothing hits you harder in the feels like that classic ballroom scene with Belle in her notorious yellow dress and the Beast in his royal blue suit. Emma Thompson then sang the song “Beauty and the Beast” in a way that sounded like the original. The nostalgia alone could bring you to tears.
The yellow dress has dealt with some criticism online though. The top half of the dress is much different from the cartoon version with its fringes or small cuts and layers of the fabric. However, Emma Watson herself took part in its design process in her quest to create a new, strong, modern Belle.
Watson also did research on her character to find out if Belle really does have Stockholm Syndrome as viewers have claimed. Ultimately, she disagreed because she, and Disney, see Belle as empowered and being much more independent.
The difference is that Belle always had control and a choice. She could have made her escape at any time she wanted to, but chose not to because the Beast gave her what she didn’t have in the village: acceptance and an understanding of who she is. He gave her the tools to explore and be the person she wanted to be.
Beauty and the Beast’s relationship was more intense in this film because you could see how well they work together as a couple. He supports her love of books, they both read and discuss literature, he provides her with the means for the adventures she longs for, and she teaches him how to be the man he really wants to be. There were two things that bothered me.
The first being that there was a lot of stress put on the added scene when Beast helped Belle find answers about her past. It was because he did that for her that she loved him and may not have admitted her love in the end if this had not happened. This was made clear when she tried to explain to her father how she felt about the Beast when captured.
The second thing being the ongoing role of the enchantress which, although filled plot holes, also insinuated that nothing that happened to Belle and Beast was by coincidence but by her manipulation.
Even so, this was by far Disney’s biggest live-action film yet and there’s many more to come.