Trust me when I say that I was a huge Disney nerd growing up. Having been let down by adaptations such as Snow White and the Huntsman, I did not let my hopes get up too high for Beauty and the Beast (2017).
However, it was surprisingly refreshing, even for adults who had seen the animated Beauty and the Beast (1991) before and knew exactly what was going to happen. They had added in enough elements or minor plot points to keep it interesting. Little throwaway lines that you didn’t think much of had payoffs throughout the film, which I thought nicely rewarded the audience’s attention to details. For example, we find out that Monsieur John, who mentioned to Belle that he had lost something but forgotten what, turned out to be important in the story’s ending.
The characters were fleshed out better too. Maurice had a larger agency in this film, and we see him actively helping Belle return to save the Beast. Gaston is explained to be revered in the town because of his status as a war hero and Mrs Potts provides the backstory as to why the Prince was raised to be such a vain, selfish person. It is these extra plot points that give the film and the characters added dimension and was able to entertain both adults and children.
The graphics were insanely magical and I literally felt that I had been transported into a real fairytale. The Beast’s castle had been reimagined and brought to life well yet with enough throwbacks to the original that it was still recognisable. Emma Watson played a great Belle and I could not have imagined anybody else in that role. I did think that you could tell though, when she was ‘looking’ at the animated household items that she wasn’t really looking at them. It did ruin the experience for me, just a little. On the other hand, Dan Stevens has ridiculously expressive facial features and captivated me with his performance, even under all that fake fur.
I do wish they had given Audra Mcdonald more songs or at least more lines in the already existing songs because why cast a Tony Award winning actress if you’re not going to have her sing more? That aside, the rest of the cast had adequate enough singing talent, although I do think Emma Watson’s voice was a bit more auto-tuned than necessary.
All in all, the film did not disappoint and the children leaving the theatre had to pass by an adult me sobbing in her seat during the credits. Definitely one for both children and adults to experience.
Rating: 4.4 out of 5
Things to consider:
Warning: spoilers ahead of this point
- It was great that with every falling rose petal, we saw the castle fall into ruin more and more. The physical manifestation of the diminishing hopelessness that the castle’s inhabitants felt attached to the situation a seriousness that was lacking in the animated film, which was of course, tailored to children.
- You could tell the exact point where LeFou starts to doubt Gaston and I thought it was really interesting that they made his uncertainty so obvious because it illustrated Gaston’s obvious obsession and insanity, that even his closest friend and ally would turn against him.
- Lumiere’s (or was it Mrs Potts) comment about Belle losing everything in a day and leaving her alone in her room juxtaposed with the scene of Belle tying up cloths to climb out the castle window was a great contrast to what we expect girls to do and what girls want to do. Belle wasn’t just a damsel in distress.
- The Enchantress being there for herself to witness Belle’s love for the Beast was a great addition and I loved that the Beast actually did die and the household servants did turn into lifeless antiques for a moment there. Having the Enchantress reverse the enchantment herself made the love between the two characters more meaningful, rather than it being an arbitrary point that the curse would go, “Okay, terms fulfilled. Time to be human again.”
Favourite scene: The Beast’s ‘Evermore’ sequence. In the animated film, we never saw what happened after Belle left to save Maurice. But with this added scene, Beauty and the Beast (2017) moved away from being just a Disney Princess movie and told a more well-rounded story.
What I had wanted to see: So I heard that they filmed an alternative ending where the Prince was to emerge from his transformation in a shower of rose petals, shirtless. But apparently some moms complained about it during early screenings and they made him put on a shirt. Like, why? This is why we can’t have nice things.
Random fact: Belle’s last line to the Prince, “How would you feel about growing a beard?”, to which he does a really Beastly growl was a nice nod to the original animator, Glen Keane, of the 1991 film. He had wished that the Beast would have stayed a Beast at the end. Seeing as the final decision was to have him transform back into a Prince, he tried to add in a funny line and said, “I had them record Belle saying, ‘Do you think you could grow a beard?’ It was a good idea. It’s not in the movie. We should have put it in there.”