Beauty and the Beast: A Movie as Great as Time

Jasmine Hubbard, Staff Writer

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“How does a moment last forever? How can a story never die? It is love we must hold onto. Never easy, but we try. Sometimes our happiness is captured. Somehow, a time and place stand still. Love lives on inside our hearts and always will.”

These simple lyrics from the 2017 film Beauty and the Beast seem to summarize my feelings for this movie quite nicely. As a child, I grew up with this movie and always kept it close to my heart, so it was no surprise to my parents that I’d want to see the live action version in theatres. Not to mention, my favorite actress, Emma Watson, was cast as Belle so that only made me want to see the movie even more.

However, I was a little skeptical about whether the actors or the story would do  the animated version justice. I heard many of the critics calling it the best movie of 2017, others saying that it didn’t get very good reviews, and the rest complaining about failed expectations. However, since this is my second favorite animated movie of all time, I needed to know for sure if what the critics were saying was true. I was going to watch it regardless of what the critics said,  because I watched the trailer and I’m a visual person, so I thought that the artistry looked quite unique. Once I saw the film, my reactions were mixed — at first. At first glance,  I actually didn’t  like how the characters looked, especially Mrs. Potts and Chip. I thought it was a little weird, but then I kind of started to like the look and started to admire the unique and appeasing styling.   

As for music choice, well, the music choice was unexpected. I figured that they would just use the old songs and, while I knew that there would be slight variations, I wasn’t expecting any new songs. Thankfully, they still have the nostalgic “Tale as Old as Time,” “Be our Guest,” and “Gaston,” but they also have songs like “How Does a Moment Last Forever,” “Days in the Sun,” and “Evermore,” which are all songs that relate to the backstories they created in this movie.  Immediately, I fell in love with the sweet-sounding song “Days in the Sun.” Let me paint you a picture. The Beast is weak and wounded as he lies in bed, still dreaming of a time in his life when he was an innocent and nurturing son lying in wait by his ill mother’s bedside only to be ushered away by his cruel and unruly father. The scene then shifts to different servants such as Maestro Cadenza – the organ , Lumière,the candelabra;Plumette, the featherduster; Chip, the teacup;Mrs.Potts, the tea kettle; and Madame Garderobe, the wardrobe, singing of their hopes to be human again and their remembrance of days spent in the sun when they were human. Belle joins into this sorrowful movement, singing how she can’t possibly understand that, in the midst of all this sorrow, peace and love can still endure. Being once innocent, she now knows she can’t go back to her childhood that her father had made secure. While she is unsure of what lies in wait, she is wiser now and hopes for her freedom to come shining through. It’s a powerful, inspirational, and yet simple scene that holds meaning and truth about the joys in life and the coming of age moment when a parent has to let go of his child.

I absolutely adored the backstories they gave to these characters. It didn’t take away from the original plotline or go off in a direction completely contrary to the plausibilities of these characters’ lives. The backstories added a piece to the original story, which made the movie more enjoyable to watch. Without these backstories, the audience would have never known why Belle’s father was a widower or why we never saw the Beast’s family in the animated version. For a Beauty and the Beast fanatic, it gave me much comfort and peace to know these truths, questions I’ve waited anxiously for years to have answers to.

OMG! Can we take some time to talk about the LGBTQ community in this film? LeFou went through a great number of changes in comparison to the animated version. In the animated version, he was too cartoony, constantly being punched around by Gaston for no reason at all. The director knew immediately that this would not work, so they began to develop LeFou as a more three dimensional character. While developing this character, they were required to find answers to questions like, why does LeFou admire Gaston so much, and what will he do when he realizes that Gaston isn’t as perfect as he once appeared? Directors gave Josh Gad the task of taking  his character in whatever direction he wanted, and he definitely went in the right direction, transforming LeFou into a prominent character in the movie.

While controversial, it’s relevant and exactly what we need in today’s society. The sexuality of his character wasn’t so overpowering that it took control of the entire plotline, nor was the movie so straight that it felt as though the movie took place in an alternate universe. The balance was well done, which is a difficult task to do because they not only had to keep true to Lefou as a character, but they also had to make sure that his character didn’t trump the movie’s plot line. All directors should take notes because in society the presence of someone who isn’t straight is a part of life, so denying  those characters in a film, because it’s a controversial subject, is no longer acceptable.

This movie, of course, wasn’t perfect. It had its flaws. Justice wasn’t 100% served when it came to the men being illiterate. Sure, it had its funny moments, like LeFou singing all his praises to Gaston, before suddenly realizing that he’s illiterate and doesn’t actually know how to spell Gaston’s name, which was pretty funny. However, they needed to add some more serious moments in the film about how being illiterate can affect these men’s lives. Perhaps the townspeople could have been harsher towards Belle for teaching a girl how to read because that would have put a graver amount of seriousness on the subject, versus making the subject into a laughing matter by constantly joking about it. Since the targeted audience is kids and families, I’ll let it slide, because I understand that maybe that subject may be too touchy, especially with kids who hate school as it is.

But please tell me who decided that the bimbettes were going to be upper-class aristocrats? Honestly, that’s not how I saw them in the animated version. Sure, it’s a kids’ movie but can’t they be a little sleazy? They’re hitting on Gaston, and he clearly doesn’t like them, so why not make them appear like prostitutes on the streets or something? Have them be anything, but just don’t make them aristocats. I can’t really complain because it is a kids’ movie, but aristocrats? Really?Please don’t think that I’m bashing their acting or the director’s choice to make them appear the way he portrayed them; that’s his artistic decision, not mine. I’m simply explaining changes I would have made had I been the one directing the film. Director William “Bill” Condon is a creative genius who I give high respect to. He turned my childhood movie into a masterpiece, which I can say I have not done, so thank you, Mr. Condon. Thank you!

Overall, I thought that the live-action version was a little better than the original.  While it is tough to compare any adaptation to its original because the original piece is the reason why the adaptation even exists, I must  recognize the way Condon told this story. In his film, he added depth to the original story and flavored the story with little added bits here and there in order to intertwine the old with the new to form a masterpiece. If you have not watched the movie yet, I highly recommend that you drop everything and watch it right now!

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