Disney’s latest live-action remake, Beauty and the Beast, is out and I’ve seen it.
The movie is very much a remake of the 1991 animated movie. The plot, the songs, the characters, all pretty much the same.
For those who aren’t familiar with the story (really though?) Beauty and the Beast tells the story of a cruel prince who is cursed by an enchantress. She turns him into a bear/goat/man and turns all of his subjects into furniture and household items.
The Beast is given a deadline, learn to love someone else and be loved in return by the deadline or be forever cursed.
Belle, our heroine, comes along and is kidnapped by the Beast. He is kind to her and in the end she falls in love with him, protecting him from her more provincial suitor, Gaston. When she confesses her love, the Beast turns human once more and everyone lives happily ever after.
Stockholm Syndrome problems aside, there’s a great cast and anyone who enjoyed the original movie will probably like this one as well. For the astute observer, there’s even some homages to what was stunning 3D animation when the 1991 version was released.
There are a few new jokes and plenty of the old ones that will please most people without offending anyone. It’s still a children’s move after all.
Like any remake there are a few changes, both major and minor. The Beast, Belle, and Gaston are all given pasts that help contextualize their personalities and desires.
My favorite alteration was when Belle’s father, Maurice, finds the Beast’s castle.
In the original fairy tale the furniture isn’t anthropomorphized. All the cooking and cleaning of the castle simply occurs on its own.
When Maurice arrives the castle’s “occupants” all stay perfectly still when he looks at them, and while out of sight they work to make his stay pleasant. As far as Maurice knows, no one lives in the castle (until Chip screws it up).
As Maurice leaves he remembers that he promised to get Belle a rose. He made this same promise in the original fairy tale, but not in the original animated movie. He takes a rose from the Beast’s garden and is then imprisoned by the Beast for stealing.
Nothing else is really changed to match the original story. Gaston still stands in as a more villainous version of Belle’s sisters. The Beast still starts off as cruel instead of being the refined gentleman that the Grimm brothers present him as. The Beast still changes into a handsome prince instead of the change only being in the way Belle sees him.
I’d also heard that Gaston’s gay friend, LeFou, was made more gay in this version of the story. After seeing it I can say that’s not really true. There’s never any obvious signs of romantic affection directed at Gaston, or any men for that matter. LeFou still has a strange obsession with pleasing someone who does nothing but bully him though.
If you didn’t like the original or have no need to rewatch it, skip Beauty and the Beast. As for me, I liked the movie and I have a feeling that anyone who enjoyed Disney’s previous telling of it will like the live-action version as well.