Sunday, March 19, 2017

Beauty and the Beast

Yesterday I went to go see the new Beauty and the Beast film. I've been waiting for this movie for a looooooooooong time- ever since the project was first announced. Before they even got around to casting. I figured I wouldn't be able to make it on opening day, but I had to go the first weekend it was out.

I enjoyed the film. But I don't think it will replace the animated one. I think of it more as a wonderful supplement to the 1991 movie.

Although the computer effects were pretty amazing, I did find myself a little distracted at times by them, thinking "Oh, thats looks a little too fake". For example, the Beast.

Since he was appearing alongside an actual actress for much of the film, the effects were noticeable because they weren't good enough to be 'real' but they were too good to be make-up and costume (remember that weird TV Beauty and the Beast series from the 80's?)

I thought the same thing when I watched the characters Mrs. Potts, Chip, Lumiere, and Cogsworth. 

But this film does have some benefits, especially for obsessed  passionate adults such as myself, and my friends, who have analyzed the 1991 movie over and over again.

It always bothered me in the movie that the rose was supposed to bloom until the Beast's 21st year- does that mean until he turns 21 years of age, or does it mean he has to spend 21 years as a beast? How old was the Prince when the enchantress put the spell on him? This film doesn't specify any number of years at all, using general references such as "long ago" instead, which works a lot better for people who tend to get caught up in details. Also, since we see the Prince before the he gets cursed, we see how old he was when he turns the beggar woman away.

The Beast's story gets fleshed out a little more- and the audience finds out what contributed to him becoming such a vain, spoiled young man. He also gets his own song, which is good for character development, but it reminded me ALOT of the song the Phantom of the Opera sings "Music of the Night." Of course this fairy tale has always been rather Gothic, with the mysterious man and the young innocent woman and the castle full of secrets, but seeing a more life-like version of the fairy tale really brings out the Gothic theme more than the cartoon could.

Another back story this film fills in concerns Belle's mother. The 1991 movie never mentions her, so I think most people just assume she's dead. Which isn't unusual, because the "dead mommy" is a long tradition in fairy/folk tales, and the stories we treasure are built around that basic story structure and character arc. So it's not exactly a mystery why Belle doesn't have a mother, especially because so many of the Disney characters lack them (it's not just the Princesses- Lilo and Nemo don't have mothers, either) but it's still interesting to see how the new movie explains it. 

I think that Emma Watson does a wonderful job in the leading role. Belle has always been in the newer generation of Princesses, who have more sass and spunk than Cinderella or Snow White, and this script makes her a little more feminist, and because it's Emma Watson, who is most well-known for playing a strong female character, it comes across as believable. 


Instead of just side-stepping Gaston's proposal, she flat out tells him :"I will never marry you." 

Instead of just telling the Beast she will stay in place of her father, she enters the cell, and pushes her father out, taking his place with determined force, and also promising him that she will escape, and not just accepting her fate.

Later, we see her attempt an escape, even before the infamous wolf fight.

Also, she doesn't seem to care what she's wearing. In the 1991 movie, when Belle returns to her sick father, she's back in her blue dress, so the audience assumes she took the time to change out of her billowing yellow ball gown to ride home to him. In this movie, we see her flee the castle in her yellow dress; she was so desperate to tend to her father she doesn't even worry about changing clothes. And later, when she  rides back off to the castle, she just abandons the dress altogether, because how are a girl supposed to help in a battle with layers and layers of silk and chiffon weighing her down?

One thing I have to confess is that whenever I see the library in Beauty and the Beast, I wonder about the logistics of it. How is it organized? Is it the Beast that organized it, or did he have his own librarian? If there there was a librarian, did he/she get transformed into an object like all the other castle staff? If I had a library like that, how would I organize it?

There's a deleted scene in the 1991 movie in which the Beast tells Belle that although he learned to read, he doesn't really remember how to anymore, and I always wondered what he spent his days doing if he wasn't reading. The new Beast shows Belle the library after he criticizes her choice of reading (she favors Romeo and Juliet), telling her that there are much better selections available. When she asks him if he's read all these books, he replies "Well not all of them, some of them are in Greek." It's always refreshing to see a well-read Beast.

So now I've got the movie on my mind. And also Gaston. 

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