Beauty and the Beast – Not Quite the Original
Beauty and the Beast (2017), stars Emma Watson as Belle and Dan Stevens as Beast/Prince Adam. It is the newest live-action movie by Disney.
Belle is also the third princess made into a live-action and the words “third time’s the charm” definitely rang true.
Beauty and the Beast hits a unique spot for both being modern and nostalgic fans who grew up with the 1991 version.
A reason why the movie is able to draw from nostalgia is because of the music. The movie uses a lot of the iconic songs from the original version. But the new movie does have a few original scores that do fit very well into the movie. One difference between the two movies is the musicality of the songs.
The original version was very rooted in music. With bold actions and movements, with a strong “belt it out” quality to the voices that is synonymous with musicals.
The new Beauty and the Beast film is more subtle. The actions and movements are not as exaggerated and lyrics are like musical dialogue. One example is Maurice, Belle’s Father, played by Kevin Kline sings a new song called “How Does a Moment Last Forever.” It is lullaby-like and it makes the scene a tender, bittersweet moment as he works and thinks about Belle and her mother.
Although it might not be as energetic as the original version, I think it would have been too over the top for a live-action. This subtleness adds a realistic quality to the movie. But if you miss having a musical-like song, Beast’s solo near the end should fill that part.
In the original Beauty and the Beast, the story is streamed line. Just enough information to ground the tale and to get the audience invested. It is a great movie because of that. And is probably why it is a classic for so many.
The new Beauty and the Beast like other live-action adaptations add more detail and back story to the tale, fixing any plot holes in the original movie. This made me happy because I like a good back story.
One example is the reason why the village didn’t realize there were a prince and castle in the forest. The new movie explains it is part of the enchantment. This included making sure the village forget there ever was a prince and a castle in the first place.
Another example is the enchanted rose. The rose to Beauty and the Beast is like the glass slipper to Cinderella.
In the original, the rose signals that he will be doomed to remain a beast if he doesn’t learn to love and beloved in return before the last petal falls. Though the concept of having an enchanted rose be the timer for true love is pretty romantic, it is kind of random. Though it is the gift that Beast spurned, marking his folly but it feels that the rose should have more significance in the original animated movie.
In the latest version, the rose is used as a motif throughout the movie. Belle always asks for a rose every time Maurice goes to the market. The rose is the reason why Belle becomes Beast’s prisoner. Belle even has a baby rattle in the shape of the rose. So the rose can be a symbol for Belle, making her either the end or the beginning for Beast. With that, the use of an enchanted rose by the Enchantress no longer becomes an arbitrary idea.
These details add weight to all the characters. Belle .becomes a modern heroine who is proactive in her own life and isn’t just waiting for something to happen. For instance, she tries to escape the castle and not resigned to her fate. Beast becomes a redeemable character because of his back story, making him a viable love interest for Belle as their relationship develops.
Supporting characters are also well-developed. Maurice is a doting father who is protective Belle. He also raised her to have a good head on her shoulders. Mrs. Potts, Lumiere, Cogsworth, and the others care and are protective of Beast. Not because he is their master or because of the curse. Rather they watched him grow up and become someone different because of his father’s influence. Even Lefou, Gaston’s sidekick gets a story arc in the movie. This creates an emotional bond with the secondary characters that might not have been there during the original version.
Does this mean that a fan of the 1991 version is going to be a fan of the 2017 version? No, but I would recommend giving the new Beauty and the Beast a try. It is an excellent adaptation of the story, with a good list of songs and characterizations by the actors. And it would be a great definitive or companion movie for a Beauty and the Beast fan.