Disney’s live action remake of the beloved 1991 animated film “Beauty and the Beast” was released on March 17.
Directed by Bill Condon, this movie serves as Disney’s 5th live action film based on a prior animated film. Much like its animated predecessor, this film showcases a love story between two seemingly opposite people that aren’t as different as they appear. Along with the charming attraction between the two leads, this film also delivers captivating Broadway-like tunes, both new and old, that will have audiences singing along to. “Beauty and the Beast” pays homage to the original 1991 film through its fantastical elements while offering a fresh and modern take on a ‘tale as old as time.’
The film opens with a ball held by a spoiled prince, played by Dan Stevens, who is obsessed with physical appearances. During the ceremony, an elderly and haggard woman offers the prince a rose in exchange for shelter, but he refuses due to her horrid appearance. She then reveals herself to be a beautiful enchantress and curses the castle and everyone who lives there. The prince becomes a beast, his servants become household items, and the curse can only be broken if the beast falls in love and earns one’s love in return before the last petal falls on the rose.
10 years later, we are introduced to Belle, portrayed by Emma Watson, who is a french country girl living in a village that refuses to accept her imaginative and inventive personality. While the other villagers are concerned with image, Belle yearns for adventure away from her small town. She gets this opportunity when her father Maurice, played by Kevin Kline, is taken as a prisoner of the Beast’s after stumbling across it during a storm. Belle takes her father’s place as the Beast’s prisoner.
Although the relationship between Belle and the Beast starts off rocky due to his horrible temper and initial cold heart, the two eventually warm up to one another after the Beast saves Belle from being eaten by wolves and she tends to his wounds. They find comfort and relief in one other through their struggles in how other perceive them; Belle is outcast for her insightful charisma and is only seen as a beautiful but odd girl, while the Beast is frowned upon for his monstrous appearance and is only viewed as a beast. By getting to one another through candlelit dinners, snowball fights and ballroom dances, the pair quickly go from distrustful strangers to lovebirds.
In addition to enchanting chemistry between Watson and Stevens, the film presents an intriguing antagonist in Gaston, played by Luke Evans, who is the village’s most eligible bachelor with Belle as the apple of his eye. Unlike most villains, and although he is foolish and rude, Gaston is the guy that everybody in town loves, making him an entertaining antagonist. Accompanying him is his sidekick Lefou played by Josh Gad, who struggles between his admiration for Gaston and his desire to do what he knows is right throughout the film.
Although “Beauty and the Beast” remained faithful to the original film, there were some changes that were added into this re-telling. One of these updates included having Belle as the crazy, wacky inventor rather than her father, Maurice, as that was his profession in the original film. Other changes included the revelation of the fate of Belle’s mother and the Prince’s tragic childhood, Lefou being homosexual, the Beast’s love for books and a new antique of his that allows one to mentally travel to anyplace they wish to see. Despite initial anxieties of these changes work so well with the story that they just seem natural. They add something fresh and entertaining for old fans to get excited about and to hook in new fans.
The use of CGI in the film contributes fun and colorful moments and characters to the film. The advancements in technology truly allow the household objects to come to life, including the candle Lumiere played by Ewan McGregor, Cogsworth the clock played by Ian McKellen and teapot Mrs Potts played by Emma Thompson. The animated sequences with these characters, including the rendition of “Be Our Guest” and their interaction with the human actors provide visual spectacles that truly bring the movie to life.
“Beauty and The Beast” is an exciting fairy tale that goes in depth in both its plot and its character development. It’s scenery, whether animated or real life, is visually stunning accompanied by music that goes with it gracefully. Although this movie is a remake, it is different yet just as strong nough to stand on its own. Through modern technology and storytelling, this new spin on the animated classic provides an updated version of the story that fans of the original and newcomers can both enjoy