The new “Beauty and the Beast” is yet another successful notch in Disney’s live-action remake belt.
The film, starring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens, definitely lives up to the hype. Not only does it retain the original wonder and magic from the 1991 animated movie; it also inflames that old admiration with new and revamped songs, beautiful costumes and diverse and interesting characters.
While the filmmakers kept fan favorites like “Be Our Guest” and “Belle,” new beautiful songs were also added to the story, like “Evermore,” which the Beast heartbreakingly sings after Belle leaves to save her father. “Evermore” ruined a few smoky-eye looks in the theater, none more so than mine.
Songs that were reused from the original received a makeover. “Gaston,” sung by Josh Gad as LeFou and Luke Evans as Gaston, is more absurd than the original, most conspicuously because of Gad’s character with his sarcastic retorts and comments.
Gad’s LeFou, which created controversy after Disney revealed the character would be portrayed as gay, is given new life in the film by being depicted as wittier than his cartoon counterpart. One of the best LeFou moments in the movie is when he looks at the three girls pining after Gaston and simply lets them know it is “never going to happen.”
The controversy over the homosexual nature of LeFou seems overblown after seeing the film. Although he does dance with a man briefly during the ballroom scene at the end of the film, the only conspicuously homosexual scene is when he and Mrs. Potts discuss his quarrel with Gaston. Mrs. Potts says Gaston “isn’t even good enough” for LeFou, which is a common line used to console a friend after a breakup and would be dissected only by an adult audience.
Honestly, the film could have further expounded LeFou’s flamboyant nature, but Disney is taking baby steps to keep up with 21st century social change.
Lefou isn’t the only character that is revitalized. Belle’s father, Maurice, played by Kevin Kline, has more screen time in the film and his character becomes more developed. We are able to see his seemingly simple life is marked by sacrifice and loss, yet he still sees beauty in the world.
Though the music and the characters were amazing, the design of the film is the real winner.
The first thing I noticed when watching “Beauty and the Beast” is the vibrant colors. Every scene is painted with a spectrum of colors— often shades exemplifying the emotional state of the prominent characters in the respective scene.
For example, the dark grays and blues help create a tone of melancholy and mystery for the Beast’s castle at the beginning of the film in contrast to the bright whimsical pastels that bring life to the castle at the end. Although, the addition of a hunky, now-human prince with a voice like an angel might be what really makes the castle more appealing.
The village, set in 18th century France, is filled with a lot of more conservatively clothed, small-town characters who tend to contrast with the more eccentric Belle and Maurice.
While Belle wears subtle blues and whites throughout the film, which shows her intellectual interests outweigh her material ones, the three girls in love with Gaston are decked out in a horrible Pepto-Bismol pink, emphasizing their shallow nature. As Gaston puts it in the film, Belle doesn’t try as hard to get attention as some of the other women.
Belle also tends to wear relatively neutral makeup showing off her natural beauty, while the other royal woman and the prince at the beginning of the film are covered in overpowering white face powder and bright blush, a common look for the time period that the film takes place. This difference again distinguishes Belle from the rest of the world as she doesn’t put much stock into her own physical beauty.
Emma Watson perfectly portrays Belle’s most notable characteristics: her wanderlust and stubborn attitude. Her reaction to having free reign of the Beast’s library is something which every literary nerd anywhere can relate.
“Beauty and the Beast” also deserves props for diversity showcased in the film with various multiracial relationships, strong and interesting female leading and background characters and the previously noted LGBT supporting character. Disney is making large steps to remain relevant to the times with its most recent films. By creating princess Moana, who is more to size with the average woman, one can only hope this trend will continue into the future.
If you are an adult that feels as though this film has nothing to offer them, think again. Both children and adults can fall in love with the retelling of a beloved classic. The wondrous cinematography, elegant costumes and set designs, which were extraordinarily inventive, captured the classic Disney-esque approach to a fantastical story.
Not to mention, adults can find the film’s humor, which at times may fly a little above a child’s head, to be relatable, such as the Beast’s apparent and understandable disdain for the sappy romantic nature of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.” Almost anyone who has had to read this outdated Shakespearean classic will agree that, like the Beast says, there are much better stories out there.
Disney’s new live-action version of the age-old classic is a must see for everyone of all ages. To put it plainly, “Beauty and the Beast” is simply magical.