5 out of 5 stars
Once upon a time, the classic fairy tale of Beauty and the Beast melted our hearts. It told the story of a magical world where antiques were companions, music was enchanting and magic was omnipresent. Twenty-six years later, Director Bill Condon has decided to give his own modern twist to this tale as old as time.
Starring Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellen and Emma Thompson, Beauty and the Beast (2017) was breathtaking! This film emulated the fantasy genre beautifully through its impeccable cinematography, incredible production design and exceptional cast. Every shot throughout the film was beautiful. From a close-up of the golden details on Belle’s dress to the wide shot of the elegant ballroom, every inch of the cinematography was seamlessly choreographed. Each shot was an endless dance transitioning between the castle and the village.
Emma Watson, commonly known as the beloved Hermione Granger from Harry Potter, was phenomenal! In an interview (link below), she told Entertainment Weekly that the backstory of Emma’s character, Belle, was slightly changed. Belle remained a bookworm who praises her freedom and hopes for more than just a provincial life, but rather than have her father, Maurice (played by Kevin Kline), play the inventor she was given the role. In the film, she creates a primitive version of the washing machine and while it did the hand washing, she taught a little girl how to read. This scene reminds the audience of the times when women were shunned for reading and inequality was prominent. Watson is able to perfectly embody this image of feminism by demonstrating to little girls that they should pursue their independence and strive to be different. In one of the early songs, “Belle”, the villagers repeatedly single Belle out as “odd”, emphasizing that Belle’s freedom and intelligence makes her an outsider. This added profundity to the story by targeting issues that are still relevant in society. Just because someone is odd or different doesn’t mean that they don’t deserve the same love and equality.
Furthermore, the screenwriters, Stephen Chbosky and Evan Spiliotopoulos, created a beautiful connection between Emma Watson’s character and Dan Stevens’ character, Beast (Stevens best known as Matthew Crawley in Downton Abbey and recently as David Haller in Legion). The writers made them extremely compatible, thus avoiding any perceptions of a superficial relationship. For one thing Belle made it clear from the beginning that she would never marry a brainless fool. Demonstrating Beast’s literacy and interest in literature was enough to grasp Belle’s attention. Also, the loss of both of their mothers solidified the strong emotional link between them. Dan Stevens and Emma Watson’s chemistry radiated on-screen, especially when Dan Stevens’ character made humorous remarks. Although the Beast was made using a combination of CGI technology, his face resembled that of Dan Stevens’ which humanized his character. When performing ‘Evermore’ (a new song created for the remake), Beast finally expresses his love for Belle and ultimately, demonstrates his potential to be human.
Other amazing portrayals of our beloved characters were Ewan McGregor’s Lumiere, Ian McKellen’s Cogsworth and Emma Thompson’s Mrs. Potts. These characters filled this classic tale with humor, love and dynamic relationships. Ewan McGregor and Ian McKellen embodied Lumiere and Cogsworth’s love-hate relationship perfectly and Emma Thompson’s performance of the song “Beauty and the Beast” was so delicate and heartwarming, it left the audience mesmerized. As a maternal figure, Mrs. Potts brought forth warmth and love, bestowing a familial ambience to the cold, disheartened castle.
For comic relief, the duo, Gaston and LeFou, played by Luke Evans and Josh Gad (voice of Olaf in Frozen), filled the theater with laughter. LeFou’s voice of reason was a perfect complement to Gaston’s blind selfishness. Despite all the poking fun, LeFou’s character added a gay subplot to the film as he pins for the attention of his friend, Gaston. Although Gaston is completely oblivious to this, LeFou has a moral struggle throughout the film: does he follow Gaston or do the right thing? You can see the different sides to his character when he is hesitant to follow Gaston and kill the beast, demonstrating his potential for goodness. And to all the parents who were freaking out about the “exclusive gay moment”, it was very subtle. By adding this to the storyline, it gave kids the opportunity to become more accustomed to homosexuality and accept these social differences. It was beautifully done and made this timeless tale even more timeless.
So, to all those who are debating whether or not to watch this film, it is definitely worth it. With all those new elements interwoven into the main plotline, there may be something there that wasn’t there before.
Interviews you’ll enjoy:
The Late Late Show with James Cordon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nu4Pzsolyhg
Beauty and the Beast (2017) Soundtrack:
I love them all, but Celine Dion’s “How Does a Moment Last Forever” and Dan Stevens’ “Evermore” are my personal favorites. Enjoy!