A tale as old a time, as the famous song goes. The story of Beauty and the Beast has been around since the year 1740 but the re-popularisation of Disney animated classics has become a recent and working business strategy for the entertainment industry goliaths. Beauty and the Beast solidifies this strategy by present a film that can transport you back to when the Disney magic was at its strongest and influential.
First and foremost, whilst watching the love story of Belle and the Beast unfold before me, I kept on coming back to the same word to describe the film’s techniques and presentation. Elegant. Everything about this film screams sophistication and elegance. The sets from the village to the castle easily identify the story’s French origins and the angle at what director Bill Condon wants to take the film.
What is surprising about this film is how faithful to the original 1991 animated film it is. you can hear lines of dialogue and some shot for shot scenes scattered around which is heavily nostalgic to the viewer and brings back some of that Disney magic that has since departed from current moviegoers. This is certainly one of the most precise remakes that follow its source material which has the effect of transporting audience member who grew up with the animated film to be transported back in time to their youth, especially younger women who wanted to be a princess as a young girl.
What I discovered about each character in Beauty and the Beast is that because it is so faithful to the animated film, the writers don’t have to worry about cliche’s as much as screenwriters often would. Every character in this film is easily categorised and have certain tropes that define their personalities and that have been very much overused for decades, even centuries, but this can’t bring the film down because the a story is primarily based on a fairy tale and fairy tales use simple character tropes all the time, so that they can later on build them into complex characters different to other tales.
The character of Belle (Played by Emma Watson) is a girl who is way ahead of her time, in the village she is called weird because of her intelligence and natural ability to progress as a person faster than the other villagers. Her beginnings as a character is a fantastic way to show the struggle of someone fitting into society but at the same time wanting to escape so badly. Gaston (Played by Luke Evans) also gives a very effective performance as a character who uses his charm and manipulation into making the towns inhabitants believe every word he says. I would even dare to say that every character is portrayed to perfection and neither immensely outshine one another.
I never really comment on costume design in my reviews, partially because there is little visual appeal to comment on, but seeing as how Belle’s yellow dress is iconic to the film, I made the costumes a main priority to address, and they are just as glamorous as the films visual appeal. Belle’s dress is beautifully appreciated and short scene where final preparations are being completed is breathtaking in its beauty. The iconic dress is what makes the iconic dance sequence gorgeous. Combined with the films rendition of the Beauty and the Beast song, the scene will make you have goosebumps watching it as the glitz of the ballroom add to the romanticism. There are so many words to describe just how powerful and effective this scene is.
However, viewers should be wary of the fact that this is a musical and not a standard talking film, but even with this, I did unfortunately find the performances of certain songs too theatrical. One of the most common mistakes in a musical that can bring the film down is a weak identity. If a film is too theatrical like a stage play it loses certain qualities of a film and there were a few scenes that were more impactful because we had character pouring out emotion rather than having a musical number. I do however agree with Bill Condon’s decision to have the iconic songs present in the film because, understandably they make Beauty and the Beast shine above other Disney animated films from the Disney renaissance era (1990’s – 2000’s).
The film has a rather surprising supporting cast list, from Ewan McGregor as Lumière, Ian McKellen as Cogsworth and Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts to name a few, and each of them perform their musical numbers well, with the unfortunate exception of Ewan McGregor who does admittedly lose his French accent when he sings.
Despite the odd setback, the overall product of Beauty and the Beast is a must watch for those wanting a bit of magic back into their lives. Bill Condon’s adaptation is the answer to why Beauty and the Beast portrays once of the most romantic relationships in all of cinema. You understand the character’s souls and emotions easily and most importantly the truthfulness to the animated film is a great example of the saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.
Final Result: 8/10 – Very Good
Have you seen Beauty and the Beast? What did you think? Please let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.
Next Time: Power Rangers