Disney Re-introduces Beauty and the Beast for a New Generation
What? You didn’t think it would ALL be horror or comic book films did you? Rather than focus on the latest shock flick or comic hero disaster porn, I’m going to shift gears and talk a bit about my childhood. Don’t click on another screen; you know you’re riveted.
Beauty and the Beast has always been my favorite fairy tale. Cinderella’s moral was too neat (be good and you’ll marry a handsome prince) and even in the original Grimm versions of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty the main characters didn’t seem to have any defining traits other than being beautiful, displaced princesses. Beauty was a regular girl, brave and selfless, and motivated by love for her family – not to one day marry the prince. Even if one can guess what the deal is with the Beast, he enters the story shrouded in mystery with the off-putting habit of asking Beauty every night if she’ll marry him. The original animated version of Beauty and the Beast takes these same elements and gives it some humor and rounded out motivations for the Beast and even the enchantress who curses him.
The Disney film came out when I was a freshman in high school, so I suppose I wouldn’t have been the target audience for it. That’s the thing about this movie, though. Whereas later Disney films like The Lion King had a bit more schtick aimed at the kiddies, Beauty and the Beast told the story like an adult who expected that their audience, young and old, could handle it. The characters were three-dimensional, the animation was gorgeous, and the story was…well…old as time. Unlike the travesty of Bella and Edward, the Beast wasn’t supposed to be a darkly sexy Prince Charming. He wasn’t even charming when he WAS a prince. And Belle wasn’t taking any of his crap.
Now we have Disney giving one of its most classic films the live-action treatment, and I have been admittedly skeptical. I can appreciate re-introducing these stories to a new audience by casting well-known actors and “updating” the story. But the latter is where I often find myself struggling to accept it. Rather than bash you over the head with “they’re just misunderstood” and “see…they’re ahead of their time”, the original movie just let you watch the interactions and come to that conclusion yourself. Realistically, Belle just thought she was odd and her father reacted the way any proud father would have (“oh, of course not”), but didn’t present the clunky dialogue found in this trailer. Still, this looks to be a shot-for-shot remake, and I am enjoying Emma Watson’s and Luke Evans’ characterizations as Belle and Gaston respectively. The cast is rounded out with Ewan McGregor as Lumiere, Sir Ian McKellen as Cogsworth, and Dan Stevens as the Beast. I may not be 14 anymore, but I’m still enough of a sucker for this story that I know where I’ll be on its opening night.