When I heard they were going to be remaking one of my ultimate favourite Disney movies of all time, I was both ecstatic and apprehensive. And with every right. The remakes of Cinderella and The Jungle Book were good but not incredible. And let’s not get me started on Alice in Wonderland (shame on you Tim Burton). Beauty and the Beast has a very special place in my heart and always has done. It was the first VHS I ever got.
I was even more concerned when they cast Emma Watson as my favourite Disney heroine, Belle. Although I love Emma Watson as a humanitarian and voice for women and feminists everywhere, I wasn’t sure her acting skills would meet everything that Belle should be.
Alas, March 17th, 2017 came and the live-action Beauty and the Beast was released and I watched with furious excitement.
The trailers for the film pointed in the right direction for me. The leaked singing of Emma Watson surprised me and gave me hope for the film. Naturally as a fan of the movie I knew there was going to be things I would love and hate. Okay, a strong word. Perhaps dislike is more appropriate.
WHAT I DISLIKED ABOUT BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
Let’s start with the things I wasn’t too keen on because there are a lot less of them!
Everyone I spoke to about Emma Watson playing Belle had the line “she’s too British.” Yes, perhaps she is a little more British than the American animated version. But Belle is also meant to be French so let’s not get picky. No one complained that Luke Evans sounded too British as Gaston.
And then we have Lumière played by the Scottish Ewan McGregor… With an appalling French accent. And Emma Thompson’s Mrs. Potts just didn’t do it for me either. Far too cockney. However, none of this really matters as the characters were all wonderfully played by the cast.
TALE AS OLD AS TIME
The most famous song in the original, is perhaps my least favourite in this version. As I said, Emma Thompson’s accent just didn’t fit. And the scene wasn’t as beautiful as the nineties sequence with the focus on the surroundings, the surprise on Beast’s face when Belle asks him to dance… There was less romance to it.
AND WHAT I LOVED
Does everything count? No, okay.
Emma Watson’s Belle
I am so happy Belle had much more of a role. I know she is essentially the main character in the animated version but it felt like she didn’t really do as much as Emma’s Belle and I love it. Strong, forward thinking and brave.
Belle is the only female in the village who can read. She also has the initiative to invent and develop what is around her to make daily chores easier. Something the villagers dislike immensely. But she doesn’t let it stop her trying to teach young girls to enjoy reading too and try to think for themselves..
She tells Gaston straight she will never marry him. And I was also impressed that her father Maurice knew what she wanted and didn’t give his blessing. Whereas in the animated version, he tries to convince Belle that she should consider him because “he’s a handsome fella.”
Belle also forces her father out of his cell at the castle taking his place as Beast’s prisoner. And although Belle does this in the nineties version, she seems a lot more regrettable and less cunning in her actions.
I could go on with all of her strong minded actions. But Emma did Belle justice and gave her a new lease of life.
The confirmation of LeFou’s sexuality
We’ve all heard on the news that many countries have banned the film’s released due to LeFou’s gay characteristics. Which is bizarre considering he is clearly in love with Gaston in the 1991 version. But it was wonderful seeing his reactions to Gaston, his affection for him as well as the pure joy he has when he dances with another man at the ball. So, it is a little in your face and overly camp. But campness is a trait with some gay men. And it’s something I think the young need to recognise that people are different in how they express their love and sexuality.
He stays loyal to Gaston even when he knows his actions are wrong and immoral because he is in love with him. The terrible way Gaston acts towards LeFou makes him rethink his stance and where his loyalty lies.
But guess what? He’s not the only gay character despite the media giving all their attention to this one instance. In the tavern you can see there are three other men who have the same “camp” characteristics. One of the men is also comfortable dressed as woman when he is attacked by Madame Garderobe later in the film. Something you don’t get in many Disney movies nowadays!
The characters have more back story
We are introduced to how the Prince became Beast within the first scene which we know about anyway but this is much more visual.
We also hear from Mrs. Potts how Beast was heartbroken when his mother died and that it changed him into someone cruel, not helped his father’s negative attitude.
In addition to Beast’s story, we finally find out what happened to Belle’s mother and how she dies.
The music and songs
All of the songs that are in the original are entirely brought back to life with a few additional songs too. What’s lovely is that the original songs and music weren’t messed around with too much. There were a few extra lines in some of the songs but they fit perfectly. In fact I cried with every song (surprise, surprise).
The original scores are there and present, exactly where they should have been it time with the original movie lines. It was perfectly timed.
And Emma’s singing? It was pretty good for someone who is not originally a musical actress. But Luke Evans sang (and acted) Gaston perfectly! He really embodied Gaston’s character mimicking his body language, voice and performance without fault.
The gorgeous setting and costumes
Belle’s day wear as a farm girl was a bit tomboyish with a feminine flare. Her un-ladylike boots are on show, and her dress is hoisted up so you can see her (what I think is) long underwear. Not the usual prim and proper wear a girl should have in the town she lives in.
The famous yellow dress had it’s own stunning design and golden accessories. It embodied the original with a few new touches without taking away from the design. But my favourite dress of Belle’s was her wedding dress (assuming it was her wedding dress) at the end of the film. It is a white with pink floral design and is stunning, not over the top and suited Emma perfectly.
Overall, the costumes for the remaining cast are typically French. Frills and wigs, make up and shirt cuffs, silk and bows – all spot on for the era of the French aristocratic reign.
The castle and the grounds were also perfectly designed for French royalty. Gothic architecture, originally from France, is seen throughout the castle and was clearly researched and designed with care.
Overall the film is a credit to the original but is certainly given an up to date dimension of character and personality. I adored it and would see this over and over again. Disney did the 1991 version of Beauty and the Beast credit.