Published in the March 29, 2017 issue of The Bells
A ‘tale as old as time’ debuted as a live-action film on the silver screen Friday March 17. Beauty and the Beast starred Emma Watson (Harry Potter franchise) as Belle and Dan Stevens (Downtown Abbey, Night of the Musuem 3) as the Beast.
The movie follows the classic storyline of the original animated film that was released in 1991. The film begins with an enchantress transforming the arrogant, party-throwing prince (Stevens) into a hideous beast and his staff into household objects.
Fast-forward many years later, and we are introduced to Belle (Watson), a sweet, book-lover yearning to leave her quiet town.
Handsome, but vain, war hero Gaston (Luke Evans) wants to marry Belle, but she will have nothing to do with this pompous man.
Belle finds herself at the beast’s castle after her father, Maurice (Kevin Kline) is imprisoned for stealing a rose. Belle takes her father’s place, and becomes a prisoner in the beast’s castle.
The castle staff, led by the candelabra, Lumiere (Ewan MCGregor), the clock, Cogsworth (Ian McKellen), and the teapot, Mrs. Potts (Emma Thompson) scheme to get Belle and the beast to fall in love and break the curse.
Was it any good?
In a word, yes. Watson’s Belle was charming. In the market scene where we first meet Belle, Watson does a remarkable job of proving to the audience how ‘strange yet special’ she really is compared to the rest of the villagers. She even teaches a child to read, while her invention involving a donkey does laundry for her.
One of my favorite performances was by Evans as Gaston. In the beginning, we start to sympathize with Gaston as he tries to win Belle’s hand. But as Gaston’s nastiness unfolds throughout the film we find ourselves wishing for his demise.
Evans’ Gaston is humorous at times but truly despicable. He is a villain in every sense of the word. His treatment of Maurice is much harsher in this film.
The costumes, the set, and the songs were flawless. “Be Our Guest,” a fan favorite song in the original, is a spectacle to behold with plates dancing, fireworks, and colors galore.
What was new?
Unlike the animated version, the film added in a few scenes that explain both Belle and the beast’s growing up years. The film gives us a glimpse of why Belle only grew up with a single parent and why the prince is so nasty.
The film not only has the original songs, but there are also a few new ones.
One of the new songs, “Evermore,” performed by Stevens as the beast, shows a more human side of him that we don’t get to see in the original.
Before the film came out, there were rumors circulating that Le Fou (Josh Gad) was a homosexual character in the new film.
There was a blink-and-you’ll- miss it switch of partners while dancing in the closing scene where two male characters dance together, but otherwise the film was tame.
In its opening weekend alone, the film grossed $170 million domestically, surpassing Marvel’s Iron Man 3 to become the sixth biggest domestic opening of all time. If you haven’t seen it already, go relive your childhood with this classic film.