As a cursed flower dies, a movie blossoms. Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast adds another dimension – figuratively and literally – to a classic Disney princess story. The movie is reminiscent of it’s original, but Bill Condon, the director, makes enhancements.
The film starts in a quirky, narrow-minded French town. Belle, played by Emma Watson, is the unmarried daughter of a cooky, yet lovable, tinkerer. Belle is quickly shoved into an adventure that leads her to a decrepit castle. There she first encounters the Beast, played by Downton Abbey’s Dan Stevens. Through a rapid display of familial loyalty, Belle finds herself prisoner to the Beast, who appears to have quite an unpredictable temper.
The casting directors couldn’t have done a better job, as each role was cast perfectly. Gaston, the self-absorbed antagonist, is played by Luke Evans. His comic sidekick, Lefou is played by Frozen’s Olaf, Josh Gad. During darker parts of the film, the pair’s unconventional dynamic brings an air of lightness and humor. Lefou makes fun of several serious comments made throughout the movie.
The notorious candle and clock, are played by Ewan McGregor and Ian McKellen, who certainly do the beloved original housewares justice. These two are integral in moving the plot forward.
Emma Watson manages to step away from the stereotypical Disney princess role and modernize it. Watson, although the literal prisoner of the Beast, is very much in control of her own destiny throughout the production. Her wit and striking impression, bring the Disney princess to life. Beauty and the Beast has a clear moral agenda: It’s what is on the inside that counts. Belle rejects Gaston, the town’s most desirable bachelor, because she sees that he is shallow. Furthermore, Belle is able to see through the Beast’s rough exterior, cut through all of his pain, and fall in love with him still. Condon, with Watson and the cast, perfectly portrays the overarching theme of love throughout the film.
Disney’s decision to remake the movie as a live-action production (filming actors rather than using animation) was a stroke of genius. The film works seamlessly as an elevated version of the Disney princess original, and will certainly be a blockbuster. Condon understands the fine line between a remake and a revamp.
Although Beauty and the Beast is classified as a musical – and to that, I attest that the music is breathtaking – it is a serious, thought-provoking movie. Through the center romance, the movie teaches that love knows no bounds. Lumière and Cogsworth also present moral arguments. Theirs is a true symbiotic friendship. We also see the value of loyalty in their dealings with the Beast.
The remake emphasizes the romance of Belle and the Beast, and expands on their budding relationship, making it seem more plausible than the original.
Animation is entertaining, but live-action is superior because seeing “real” characters, even ones that couldn’t possibly exist, creates a much more immersive experience for the viewer. Live-action adds another layer of realism to the film that wasn’t there before. Condon, in a press release, said that 25 years after the original film “technology has caught up to the ideas that were introduced in the [original] animated movie,” and that “now it is possible…to create a photo-real version of a talking teacup.” The computer animations are impressively lifelike and enhance the plot.
Released in the U.K. on March 17, Beauty and the Beast is a must-see, as it takes a cherished classic, and refashions it for the new generation and the 21st Century.
Written by Staff Writer Jonathan Philips (’19)
Photo from Disney Movies UK