SINCE 2014, live-action Disney films seem to be coming at us from left, right and centre. It’s like there’s an enormous pile of money to be made or something.
The latest Disney-remake to hit our screens is the classic Beauty and the Beast. Directed by Bill Condon, it’s pretty much identical to the 1991 original. By now, we all know the story: a beautiful book-nerd from a small French village saves her father by taking her place as the prisoner of a cursed beast. Stockholm syndrome soon kicks in and she falls in love with him.
Brace yourself for the extra 50 minutes of screen time, as a result of well needed back stories for both Belle and the Beast, finding out the reason behind his selfish ways. A new addition comes in the form of an enchanted book (obviously), which lets the Beast travel to the outside world. Kind of cruel when the outside world will never accept him for who he is, but hey, that’s how curses work.
Unlike the Cinderella adaption (read ‘remix’), Beauty and the Beast stays true to its original soundtrack, including the much-loved Be Our Guest and Beauty and the Beast. Some new songs are also thrown in the mix, intended to develop the characters of Belle, the Beast, Lumière and the other household objects.
Dan Stevens, of Downton Abbey fame, gives a great performance as the Beast despite being computer-generated for the majority of the film. His mannerisms shone through, able to portray the Beast in a way that was intimidating but pitiful.
“I’m a twenty-one-year-old male and I cried. Twice.”
Emma Watson takes on the role of French beauty Belle with her feminist ideals being perfect for the character. This Belle was active as a heroine herself and definitely not a damsel in distress; she never let the massive Beast intimidate her and she was directly involved in stopping Gaston (Luke Evans) from killing the Beast in the final scenes.
In this Twitter-happy world, even a Disney film can’t escape controversy. Some (including entire countries- here’s looking at you Malaysia) have expressed concerns over the representation of homosexuality in an ‘exclusively gay’ scene, which actually turns out to be a single second of footage in which Gaston’s camp sidekick Le Fou is about to dance with a male villager. Some people just can’t catch a break.
To add to the shock factor (sarcasm intended), there were two interracial couples in the film; Lumière (Ewan McGregor) and Plumette (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and Cadenza (Stanley Tucci) and Madame de Garderobe (Audra Macdonald). It’s the first live-action film to include an interracial kiss, which would be celebratory if it wasn’t so tragically late.
Growing up with all things Disney, I couldn’t help feeling nostalgic whilst watching this film. As a twenty-one-year-old male, I’m not ashamed to admit that by the film’s end, I had cried. Twice.
Emotional, visually stunning, and reminiscent of free childhood days, Beauty and the Beast tops my list of live-action Disney adaptions. Go see it, I dare you to hold back the tears.