I finally got to see Beauty & the Beast movie on Tuesday night! We had initially bought tickets for Thursday when it premiered, but my eldest son hurt his foot while home for spring break, (and now, ironically, has a walking boot on the same foot as me.) So we exchanged our tickets which ended up being great seeing as how my youngest son was able to join us since he’s his turn to be home from college!
The short version: I absolutely LOVED IT!!
The long version: I have to start with the casting. When it was first announced Emma Watson would play Belle, I must confess to having some concerns. The character of Belle has been so iconic since the 1991 movie, plus Emma, herself played an iconic, beloved character, Hermione, in the Harry Potter movies. While we were at Disney for the Princess Half Marathon, we were able to see an extended preview of the Belle song at the Walt: One Man’s Dream exhibit area in Hollywood Studios. I thought her performance was pleasant, but also reserved while strolling through the village, as though she was trying too hard to not mimic the original iconic scene. But Emma Watson fully delivered in the movie and ten minutes in, I was no longer thinking of the animated Belle.
I also appreciated Emma Watson’s refusal to wear a corset rather than have her waist shrunk to ridiculous proportions like Lily James did in the Cinderella live action movie. While women did wear corsets in the 1800’s, the movie was viewed by young, impressionable girls in a century when reality stars hawk waist trainers, so Emma’s refusal was refreshing and wise.
As for Luke Evans’ portrayal of Gaston? Perfection. ‘Nuff said.
And Josh Gad as La Fou, that little scene stealer! A bit over the top at times, but amazing, and I loved how his character developed throughout the movie. He went from having complete devotion to Gaston’s every move to having moments of doubt, leading up to him attempting to stand up to Gaston during the mob scene and his eventual crossing to the other side at the end, both literally and figuratively. I think this subplot added a great theme, that we should never blindly follow our heroes and have courage to follow our own hearts.
Oh, and the way one of the three mobsters actually loved the transformation the wardrobe gave him during the fight scene? Hilarious!
I also loved Dan Steven’s portrayal of the Beast and how he went through quite a lot by waltzing on stilts in a forty-pound muscle suit as well as having his face sprayed with 10,000 UV dots to capture his facial movements. After watching this video that gives 20 Secrets about the making of Beauty & The Beast, I’m now hoping the DVD release comes with a behind the scene documentary of how it was filmed!
Now about the story line, and pardon me for jumping around a bit.
I loved Belle’s request for her father to bring her a rose that was in the original La Belle et la Bête version by French novelist Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve. This made Beast’s curse being timed by a rose all that more significant as well as give him more substantial grounds to capture Maurice after he steals a rose. (Dramatic, yes, but more understandable than Maurice only seeking shelter like in the 1991 animated movie.)
Another welcomed addition was Belle’s character being an inventor and masterminding a washing machine that she was using in town while teaching a young girl to read. This is an element that Emma Watson had apparently insisted on being written into the script to show Belle’s strength and how the town responds to her ingenuity and literacy, further viewing her as an outcast.
And about the town. One unanswered question that the movie addressed was how the entire town was enchanted by the curse as well by being made to forget about the Prince and all who work there. This was first showed by a merchant telling Belle how he had forgotten something but he didn’t know what. While watching the movie, I didn’t make the connection to the curse until it was revealed he was Mr. Potts. So really, the enchantress didn’t just punish the Prince and his servants, but also the entire town by taking away loved family members for ten years.
Speaking of family, I loved how Mrs. Potts conveyed to Belle their role and guilt in the Beast’s curse, seeing as how they did nothing to intervene after the Prince’s mother died and he was then raised by a cruel father. Come to think of it though … what ever happened to his father? I don’t recall anything being mentioned in the movie.
A different death was explained, however, after the Beast was able to give Belle closure about her mother’s death by using a magical book given to him by the Enchantress to transport them to Paris, her childhood home. This scene was lovely, yes, and brought them even closer, but didn’t seem necessary to advance the plot and felt a bit as though they added it to lengthen the movie.
As for the Enchantress, I totally did not realize it was Agathe! Brilliant twist, as well as how Belle didn’t tell Beast she loved him before the final rose pedal had dropped and withered, fulfilling the curse. At first, I didn’t like this since it took me out of the moment and put up a fourth wall, making me reflect on the difference from what was shown in the 1991 movie. But being able to see the servants’ transformation to inanimate household items was very emotional, so looking back, I now see how the difference made their return to normal and being reunited with loved ones even more powerful.
Can I just say the wig they had Dan Stevens in after being transformed back to a prince made me long for the Beast again? Egads. Talk about fourth wall.
But the dress.
Ah, that gorgeous yellow dress with its 180 feet of satin organza and gold filigree. In some ways, it’s more in-keeping with Belle’s character than the design used for the animated movie: simple at first glance, but intrigue and phenomenal upon close inspection. I’m still tickled over being able to see it on display at Disney!
And the way it flowed ….
I do have to admit, though, that part of me longed for Belle to walk down the steps wearing the same design used for the movie. It would have made me gasp!
And her dress in the final scene with a floral print based on an 18th century apron … oh my goodness … simply divine! I wish they had this on display at Disney as well. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous!
I have to admit to not being much of a fan of Belle’s “are you opposed to growing a beard,” question, seeing as how the movie’s theme revolved around inner beauty rather than external.
But getting back to gorgeous, the library … what a breathtaking scene that made my heart skip a beat!
All in all, I absolutely LOVED Beauty and the Beast … so much so, I might even see it again! There’s many more thoughts running rampant in my head about this fantastic movie but I better wrap things up … although I highly suspect I’ll be adding to this post later. Until then…
QOTD: Have you seen the movie? If so, what’s your thoughts?