Walt Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" is a live-action re-telling of the studio's 1991 animated classic which refashions the characters from a tale as old as time for a contemporary audience, staying true to the original music while updating the score with several new songs.
"Beauty and the Beast" is the fantastic journey of Belle, a bright, beautiful and independent young woman who is taken prisoner by the Beast and locked up in his castle. Despite her fear, she befriends the castle's enchanted staff and learns to look beyond the Beast's hideous exterior and discover the kind heart and soul of the Prince within.
Starring Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Kevin Kline, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Audra McDonald, Ian McKellen, and Emma Thompson.
I grew up watching the classic animated telling of this very old story and loved it for many years, so I was a little dubious when I heard they were filming a live action version of Beauty and the Beast. I tend to worry a little when an actor has played the same role for many years, I grew up watching Emma Watson as Hermione grow up, but as soon as I saw her as Belle, that was that, she was Belle. I liked that they made Adam aka The Beast older (than the original) when he was cursed by the witch, felt much more fitting and more fair. All of the actors played their roles very well, Watson was superb as Belle, Stevens as The Beast and Evans as Gaston.
The story pretty much follows along the lines of the animated version with just a few slight differences, such as Belle wanting to know about her mother and getting to find out what happened to her. There was also a little more to Beast's story and how he ended up the selfish young man that he was when he first encountered the witch. There were a couple of lovely moments, stepping outside what has been the norm for Disney and they were well done but I wish they could have lasted more than just a couple of seconds but it gives hope for the future of LGBTQ+ in future Disney led films. The soundtrack is wonderful, there is the old classics and a little more, Evermore has become my favourite song and I simply LOVE it. The only one I don't like is Ariana Grande and John Legend cover of "Beauty and the Beast".
I love this version far more than the animated series and have rewatched it many times.
As a child growing up in the UK every time a new disney movie was released we were the first ones at the movies lining up to watch them so I can probably say I have watched all the classics and despite having to watch them on the big screen I always had my parents buy me the vhs tapes as soon as they were released. I probably owned all the original vhs tapes at some stage but alas with the dawn of digital media and vhs players being so hard to come buy they were discarded of and dvd versions bought just of the favourites.
I always wondered why my children did not share the same enthusiasm as I did for the original classics as I guess with the digital age the older classics do no stand up to today's disney pixar tales in terms of their animation and visual effects even those that have been remastered for digital television. I personally still prefer the classics as to me the visual effects make things too real and almost scary (as in the jungle book) which had me clinging to my seat in fear. Fairy tales in my day had an element of fear but as the animation was so unrealistic it remained quite tame well at least as far as I remember.
I did cry at the lion king and I think the fox and the hound and of course Bambi as I am sure all children from the 80's did but I don't recall sleepless nights like what some of the recent remakes caused my children, my daughter particularly could not handle the latest the latest release of the jungle book and even more so the latest Kong movie. For this reason I would recommend parental guidance for these movies the Beauty and the Beast included and perhaps more a 9-10 plus age group or children with known maturity.
I found the beast beautifully animated but in the fight scenes and in his anger outbursts I was even myself a little shocked with the realism and intensity that digital enhancement brings to the table. However in saying that disney did a marvelous job as always in showing the soft side of the beast portrayed in the original and the animation of the beasts character makes it very believable and adds to the charm that the Beast always had. I didn't think the animation of some of the objects from the original were as charming as the original animation attempts as making them more human like made it less charming.
I did love the movie and always enjoy a disney movie but I think for me having an animated movie with human characters and still having the same level of singing makes it seem a lot more drawn out than the original. I went to a late showing not knowing that it was a 2hour movie as I do not recall the original being a long movie so did not leave the movies until after midnight at which stage my attention span was starting to fade and I was trying to think back to the original to hazard a guess at how much longer will this go for.
I loved Belle played by Emma Watson I really feel she suited the role of Belle perfectly and the voice of Belle was beautiful bringing a whole new level to the original songs that had me singing along and remembering the words immediately. I infact came home and tracked down an original Beauty and the Beast movie to watch the next day to compare and I can't find too many differences between the two tales but for me personally I like animation being animation and the human ness was a little too much for me.
I love a good disney musical and my favourite disney movies are all the originalls but I am not a fan of musicals as such it is just disney I think that get away with it with the cute animated characters so while I enjoyed the retale I think I would be more likely to watch the original rather than the remake however I will give the remake another go when the movie is released on dvd and I am in the comfort of my own home rather than a movie theatre.
I went to see this movie with an open mind: I avoided the reviews, and did not so much as check out the website so that I could draw my own conclusions. However, I could not help but hear some of the hype that was circulating: I did see the official trailer, which described the film as "old as time", and got a feeling for what the film might be about.
It was interesting to find that the movie identifies the time of the story as well as the place. France is confirmed as the setting (although the filming all happened in England) but there are references to William Shakespeare and also to the plague. Bubonic plague came to France in the 1720s and this date would be borne out by the architecture of the period - rococo for the internal castle shots, and baroque for the exterior. And of course it fits with Belle quoting from Shakespeare, who had been around in the 1600s! I always thought fairy tales were timeless so it is interesting that this movie ties the story down.
It was quite long - over two hours - but I was engrossed from start to finish. Of course, much of the music was familiar as it had been used in the original 1991 animated version so I had a head start on the content. Alan Menken and Howard Ashman's original music and lyrics were supplemented with new material from Tim Rice who took over as lyricist after Ashman's death and worked with Menken on the 2017 film. I did appreciate the mixture of old and new here.
Apart from the familiarity of the music, the story is one of the classic fairy tales that children have grown up with for generations. The idea of a beautiful girl falling in love with a repulsive monster is a theme that recurs in fantasy movies and literature and appeals to every child who has ever been teased about his or her appearance. The underlying theme that beauty is something inside, not part of a person's external appearance, is just as relevant today as when it was first used.
There is a second theme running through the film that is also relevant today. Many of the other characters are "different" too. Belle herself is a feminist; she is an inventor and she reads books, two skills that would not make her very popular at the time the story is set. Women were either housekeepers or decorations; they had no place presuming to do things that were men's prerogative. They were the property of their fathers or husbands, and it was made very clear what would happen to a woman who had never married and then had the bad luck to outlive her father.
Lefou is another "odd bod" who spends most of the film trying to work out exactly where he belongs. Even his name marks him apart - just as Belle's name means "beautiful", "Lefou" means "the mad one". Although he is supposed to be Gaston's right hand man, he often disagrees with him - when Belle's father is abandoned by Gaston, Lefou shows that he has a conscience. In the end, right prevails and Lefou becomes one of the good guys. He accepts that he is gay; coming to terms with who he is, he presumably goes on to have a long and happy life in the castle.
For sheer glamour, Disney is hard to beat. The costumes are simply stunning and the lavish sets frame the dance sequences with suitable colour and taste. There is, too, the odd touch of humour when the enchanted garderobe clothes the villagers in hilarious combinations of dress, or when the piano stool Froufrou makes it very clear that he is really a dog by running round in dizzy circles while barking loudly. A beautiful piano stool he may be, but it does not totally mask his doggy identity!
I loved the melodrama and the excitement of the story. I did, however, wonder about the effect on smaller children. There are many elements that would appeal to youngsters - I know if I were an eight-year-old I would love it - but there are also sections that are quite dark and violent. The wolves are realistic enough to frighten a nervous child; there seems to be no redeeming trait about them. They are presented as pure evil, killing machines who are out to destroy any human that crosses their path.
There is also a battle scene where the villagers carry out a home invasion and the enchanted furniture and other objects launch a counter attack. This could be scary too for a child who is afraid of the dark. Although most children will realise that the story is imaginary, there is still the lingering feeling that everything changes when the lights go out. I guess parents should brief their under-tens before taking them to see the film, and not take them at all if they are inclined to have nightmares.
Violence aside, the greater part of the film is sheer magic. The dancing, whether human, beast or objects, is charmingly choreographed. The views of the village and the forest are picture perfect, and the castle itself is suitably grim and spooky. It is a welcome piece of escapism in the middle of a sometimes bleak existence when work seems never-ending. I, for one, came out of the cinema with a big smile on my face. There is something about happy-ever-after endings!
And the end credits were a treat in themselves. Each character was paired up with his or her enchanted object and it was interesting to see some of the physical similarities. The original versions of two of the songs were played over the credits, which are probably some of the longest I have ever seen, but I was determined to watch right to the end. I get annoyed when cinema staff decide it is time for the audience to leave because the credits are rolling, and start to clean around me. Often the credits are well worth seeing and in this case they are a must-see.
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