WARNING: This discussion post contains spoilers about Beauty and the Beast 1991 and 2017 versions. If you did not see both films, I encourage you not to read any further unless you don't mind spoilers. Read at your own risk.
The live-action version of Beauty and the Beast is a re-imagining of the 1991 animated classic. With it's spectacular cinematography, it is also breathtakingly gorgeous and perfectly casted. The choreography is on point! This version invokes emotions that the original version cannot. The film takes place in 18th century France in a small village but we do see scenes of Paris.
The new film has a few addition songs and includes some new scenes which added length to film. The original clocked in at 84 minutes while this version clocked in at 124 minutes. The new film brings a sense of nostalgia and a return back to my childhood. After all, I was only 4-years-old when the classic film was out.
Stephen Chbosky is one of the screenplay writers of the film. For those who don't know who he is, Chbosky wrote Perks of Being a Wallflower and also the screenplay for the film of the same title. Evan Spiliotopoulos is his partner in crime. The screenplay for this film includes more complex layers compared to the animated version. Beauty and the Beast offers a chance for the audience to learn more about the backstories of Beast, Belle and also Gaston.
A magic atlas that can take you anywhere is left by the Enchantress which helps add a layer of Belle's mother and what happened to her. By adding this subplot, it also adds a shared experience that Belle and Beast went through since he also lost his mother. When the Prince lost his mother, his father raised him to be the man he is today. The Prince's sweet kindness died with him when his mother died. Belle is the only one that was able to reignite who he really is.
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Belle doesn't just like to read books but she also wants to promote literacy like when she teaches a young girl to read. She also is an inventor and creates a washing machine with a horse, rope and a barrel. The village people don't approve of her being an oddity since she doesn't fit into certain gender roles of the time period. Her father, Maurice, is more than an inventor; he is also an artist.
Subtle changes such as having Belle read Romeo and Juliet instead of Jack and the Beanstalk help develop Belle's and the Beast's shared interest in Shakespeare. When the last rose petal falls, the servants become inanimate antiques for a short period of time which causes a sense of shock for the audience. I love the intricate detailing of the re-imagined favorite characters such as Cogsworth, Lumiere, Mrs. Potts and Chip. The line about Monsieur Jean forgetting something comes full circle when he later remembers that he is Mr. Potts. Due to the curse, all the village people forget the Prince and everyone that lives in the mansion. This film closed many plot holes found in the animated classic.
Disney is definitely expanding on the diversity front. LeFou has a gay moment in the film. He pines for Gaston but he also share a dance with another guy at the celebration dance when Le Fou and another man are accidentally pushed together. LeFou is also not a silly sidekick but actually an important friend to Gaston. LeFou is definitely a new favorite character for many.
|Image from screenrant.com|
Of course the snow, thorny bushes, wolves, and gargoyles surround the mansion to depict a more coarse and rugged ugly version of what the Prince once had. However, this is the beauty of Beauty and the Beast. You cannot judge people from the exterior. It's what's inside that counts.
Agathe is a new character added to the film. She lives as an unwed woman and the village ostracizes her because of it. However, she is an important character since she is also the Enchantress who cursed the Prince. She was the one who turned the prince into Beast and erased all the memories of the townsfolk. In this version, she alone can reverse the curse. Because she observed Belle's love for Beast and Beast's love for Belle, she lifts the curse. Belle was too late to share her love with Beast before the last rose petal fell. I guess if Belle said I love you before the last petal fell, Agathe's role wouldn't be as big as it is in the film.
Agathe helps those who are in need like when Maurice was tied to a tree and left to die by Gaston. She takes Maurice into her makeshift house in the forest and nurses him back to health. However, when Maurice returns back to the village, no one believes his stories about Beast and how Belle is a prisoner. No one believes about how Gaston tried to kill him in the woods. Because the only witness is Agathe, the village shuns Maurice just like how they shun Agathe. The village actually shuns anyone who doesn't conform. They treat Agathe like dirt, they want to send Maurice to the insane asylum and they think Belle is an oddity.
The updated version of Belle's ball gown is absolutely gorgeous! I also liked the added pockets to Belle's everyday blue and white dress. The pockets are more useful that the basket. Belle upgrades to a sturdy everyday boot instead of a pair of flats. In fact all the costumes are splendid! Every detail is important from Cogworth's Roman numeral buttons to Gaston's militaristic coat. The details add more dimension to the story and everything interlaces quite well together.
|Image from twincities.com|