Is there anything more beautiful than seeing something that you’ve treasured throughout your entire being come to life in the most perfect way? This is exactly how I felt when I saw the new live-action remake of my favorite childhood movie, Beauty and The Beast. And I was in tears at its being almost instantly.
I’m not even joking at all, I was fighting tears during all of my favorite scenes, from the opening number in the small French town to the simple sight of my favorite characters in the castle. I was pulled into this wonderful world by some great magnetic force, and I’m sure if there have been hidden cameras in our theater, you would see a flash of my face, wide and open, on the verge of tears, in awe of a dream world coming true.
First of all, I want to start with casting. I remember years and years ago, when Tumblr was rife with posts imagining the actors and actresses that would bring these animated friends to life. And I remember a resounding consensus on Emma Watson as Belle. To see this prediction come true is so wonderful. There’s no one more perfect to play the wise, headstrong, caring bookworm that is Belle — she was absolutely perfect. I remember hearing the news that various people had been cast for the film and thinking that there was no one so perfect for each part as the ones they picked. I mean, who more resembles LeFou than Josh Gad? And can you imagine anyone more debonair than Ewan McGregor for Lumiere? Or perfectly bubbly and motherly like Emma Thompson for Mrs. Potts? I didn’t know much about Luke Evans beforehand, but he was quite successful in showing the heartless misogynist that is Gaston — it takes a special person to take on the character of scorned man who will not take no for an answer and he was able to do it.
I had also not heard of Dan Stevens before, but I thought he did a wonderful job embodying the beast, with his angry frustrations, while expertly incorporating the added details of his tortured upbringing and quiet academic interests. The beast become much more of a three-dimensional character with more of a background and nuanced personality than he had been in the original. Here we see even more how Belle fell in love with him.
Speaking of character development, I loved the things that were added to various characters. I watched an interview with Emma Watson done by Buzzfeed, in which she revealed that when Maurice was painted as more of an artisan, she suggested making Belle the inventor. Seeing how she invented her washing machine was absolutely brilliant and made her a much more powerful and capable character. Also, whoever thought of giving LeFou a conscience is a genius. This added such a wonderful secondary plot line to the entire story — especially when he sings about the true beast in “The Mob Song.” Through the film, I’ve grown to actually like LeFou and root for him as he tries to talk Gaston down from his maniacal inclinations.
I was so pleasantly surprised that the film stayed so true to the original, and instead of cutting out favorite moments they heightened them will also adding even more to fill out the story. This is how I feel adaptations should be. I was a bit weary that they might cut out one of my favorite parts — Belle’s longing for adventure after she has finally denied Gaston outright. As for the added scenes and songs, I thought they were absolutely wonderful. I loved learning about Belle’s mother and the past Maurice had before moving to the small town. I loved seeing Belle teaching a young girl to read. I loved learning about the nuances of the curse and seeing the added moments when we see the castle’s servants truly dreaming of getting their lives back.
I think my favorite of the new songs is definitely “How Does A Moment Last Forever.” It is so delicate and sad yet hopeful. It fits perfectly into the general mood of the entire film and is so beautifully sung by various characters throughout the film.
One of the issues I had with the film did come with an added scene. In the beginning of the original, the story of the Beast’s curse is told through narration and stained glass windows. While I don’t think this would have worked as well for live-action, I do not think they did the best they could with the scene. It was interesting to see the prince come to life in human form at a party held for the most beautiful women in the kingdom. And, granted, here we finally get that authentically French feeling that is largely absent from the original. Although the costume and general artistry of this moment feels a bit overdone, I was glad for it — otherwise, the story could take place anywhere in the world.
However, the scene was almost completely narrated and we watch people who are supposedly talking, standing still. I wish they had shown actual interaction between the prince and the enchantress, instead of telling us what they said. It would have been much more powerful to see it happen in the moment, rather than having it come across as a moving bedtime story.
Lovers of original Disney films can trust the film house to recreate them in the most immersive, magical, wonderful ways possible. Lovers of Beauty and The Beast must see this movie. I know it can be hard to trust new renditions of movies we clutch so dearly to our hearts, but trust me, the beauty of the story remains intact and evolves into an even greater journey.
What did you think of the live-action remake of Beauty and The Beast? What did you think of the added scenes and songs? Did they enhance the original story or take away from it? What opportunities do live-action remakes offer for directors/producers and do you think they are taking full advantage of them? Let’s talk.