Sunday, March 19, 2017

So I Saw "Beauty and the Beast"

Y'all have probably been hearing quite a bit of ruckus about the new Beauty and the Beast film. A while back, there was a fuss about how Disney was giving Belle a backstory and making her an inventor. I was pretty displeased about this-why does she need to be an inventor? She's perfectly fine the way she is! Most recently, there has been all the hype about Le Fou and how Disney is pushing a pro-gay agenda. When I heard about this, I was sad (why would they turn a sweet children's movie into something that's pushing their political agenda?), not at all surprised, and figured that it was mostly a load of hype.

When I read a review which said what the "explicit" content was, I rolled my eyes. So much hype over something that really doesn't seem very drastic. I lived in Kansas for 8ish years, where a lack of partners means that women dance together all the time. I have a photograph from my wedding reception of two of my male friends dancing together, because they're good friends and were being silly. There are other cultures where it's perfectly normal for the men to dance together while the women dance together. So, if you're concerned about your four-year-old seeing anything disturbingly "explicit" in the movie, I just want to reassure you that the director's implications will probably fly right over their heads, and that the content really isn't that disturbing (though I do think there are a couple eye-roll-worthy moments during the "Gaston" song, but there were in the animated film, too). 

Keeping this in mind, and thinking about how it's important, as a Catholic, to engage the good, true, and beautiful elements in the culture, I did not have any qualms about spending money to see it in theaters (but I do respect the decision of those people who do not wish to spend their money on this movie on a basis of principle). While I was spending a couple days with my family recently, my awesome dad agreed to babysit my son so my wonderful mom, my fabulous sister, and myself could have a girls' outing at the movies! So if any of you are interested in seeing a couple of my not-thoroughly-processed, not very-spoilery thoughts on Beauty and the Beast, read on. 

I love how the movie opens. My mom, after the movie, made a fantastic observation about how the beginning scene and ending scene provide this thought-provoking juxtaposition, which is awesome. I'm going to have to sit with that deep observation for a while-there's a good message there about personal and cultural transformation! 

As the movie began, I wasn't sure about Emma Watson in the role of Belle. She's a great actress, but I'm not sure if she really pulled me into believing that yes, this is Belle! As the movie went on, Watson in the role of Belle grew on me, and I liked her take on the character more. She doesn't seem as emotional as the animated Belle, but I kind of like that, as someone who isn't particularly emotional myself. While she wasn't my favorite part of the movie, I think she still did a decent job. 

In my opinion, I think that Luke Evans nailed the role of Gaston. Time and time again during the movie, I would shake my head in disbelief, with the conviction that this IS Gaston! I also really enjoyed seeing Dan Stevens as the Beast. He just portrayed the Beast so well. Yes, I'm biased-Stevens' character in Downton Abbey was one of my favorites in the series, so naturally I was excited to see him portray the Beast. 

You know how I was initially displeased about the added backstory for Belle? I actually thought it was very well done, and there was a charming scene where she and her father were working together in his workshop. But, she was still very much a bookworm, which is important! (and awesome)

The added character depth and backstories were a really nice part of this film. The story mainly followed the flow of the animated version, but there were a couple of parts where characters were fleshed out more. We learn about Gaston's past in the army, we see a small glimpse of the Beast's childhood, and we see-and learn-some of Belle's sad family history. I thought all of this added to the rich tapestry of the story Beauty and the Beast, while not deviating from the story that we all know and love. 

I'm not going to say much about this, so that I don't spoil it for those of you who haven't seen the movie, but I enjoyed the inclusion of Agathe in the movie. I'm sure there are people who are upset about the added or changed elements of the story as she is given a fairly significant role, and there are probably people upset about the feminist push with Agathe, but I liked it. Feel free to disagree with me, I think that Disney was quite daring in altering a pivotal moment of the story, and not everyone will appreciate it! 

Belle and the Beast have a darling relationship. Someone else referred to things being "organic," and that really is the best way to describe it. Their relationship didn't have a rushed or superficial feeling of "Well, we know that these two are going to get together, so they'll just slide into the lovey-dovey phase quickly." It  seemed so natural, so organic, and so cute. Joking about Shakespeare together? LOVE IT. The snowball fight was also so adorable. 

On a final note, the costumes. I love the costumes!!!! Belle's blue dress was awesome, and I love the small details and touches that were made to give it more of a unique flair than her plain blue dress from the animated film. Belle's yellow ball gown was fluffy and yellow (favorite color!) and amazing (and she wasn't falling out of it!) and it was totally something I would love to wear. The dress that Belle wears in the final scene is also gorgeous. Aside from her amazing wardrobe, the other costumes are awesome, and really set the French setting very well. That may make some people uncomfortable, because it does involve wigs, makeup, and high heels for many of the men-but it really makes the setting and time period come alive. 

So yes, I saw Beauty and the Beast. I'm not sure if it blew me away quite like the live-action Cinderella did, but I think that part of the reason that happened with Cinderella is that I've never been a super-huge fan of the animated movie, and they did awesome with the live-action movie. I've long been a super-huge fan of the animated Beauty and the Beast, though (who isn't?), so I knew that Disney would have a daunting task ahead of them in making this live-action flick. This wasn't a perfect movie, but it was pretty fabulous, and I loved it! 


  1. I have not seen the movie yet, and don't know when/if I will--because all the drama over the director's announcement was magnified over here. First, the government's censorship board yanked the movie for a special review, then they okayed it for showing with the short deletion of the scene that's causing all the ruckus, and then Disney took some time to think about it and I think the latest decision is that Disney doesn't want their films to be censored, so they won't release it to Malaysia at all.
    So much drama--I've also read reviews that describe the "explicit" content and it sounds to me as if most viewers wouldn't have hardly noticed or cared if no one had decided to make big dramatic announcements about it.

    Both Malaysia and China have censorship boards to approve films, and it's interesting to live in places where that is a part of life. Whoever made "Ben-Hur" should have done what Disney has done and chosen not to allow it to be shown at all in Malaysia, rather than going for the "cut" that will be approved by the censors....because the story of Ben-Hur with no scenes of Jesus anywhere in the movie makes no sense at all.

  2. I'm taking my two oldest to see it tomorrow. And on a side note, the female-male ratio in my college swing dance club was about 3:1, so a few of us girls learned how to lead as well as follow so we could dance with each other instead of sitting on the sidelines waiting for our turn!

  3. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, AnneMarie. I was excited when I first heard this movie was being made, but then I heard all sorts of things just before its release...I wasn't sure what to think.
    I haven't seen a movie in a theater in what seems like forever (since before Amaris was born at least), so I probably won't see it anytime soon. However, I hope I'll catch it at some point!

  4. Thanks for this thorough (but not spoilery) review. I had heard a variety of comments about the added agenda in this, and wasn't sure whether I could justify seeing in the theaters. I usually make it a policy to not support productions that are pushing a lot of social engineering. With this, I think I can justify going to see it for the 'good, true, and beautiful' moments that it has developed from the old animated film.