beauty and the beast

Disney’s box office hit: “Beauty and the Beast”


It’s a tale as old as time, and Disney brings to life the critically acclaimed original 1991 animated film “Beauty and the Beast.” The 2017 live-action remake, directed by Bill Condon, follows the same storyline in a new way and pays tribute to the timeless classic.

The well-known story begins when a spoiled prince (Dan Stevens) turns away an old, peasant woman seeking shelter from the storm. However, she reveals her true identity as the Enchantress (Hattie Morahan) before transforming the prince into the Beast and his servants into inanimate objects as a result of the prince’s arrogance and selfishness. The Beast can only break the curse by experiencing true love. By fate, Belle (Emma Watson) enters the lonely castle years later in the 1780’s. Despite the Beast’s many horrendous features, Belle becomes the prince’s only hope of ever becoming a human again.

The film also adds its own touch with additional musical masterpieces by Alan Menken, who has won eight Academy Awards on films’ soundtracks such as “The Little Mermaid,” “Aladdin,” “Pocahontas” and the original animated “Beauty and the Beast.” In the movie, Stevens performs “For Evermore.” “Our Song Lives On,” is a duet by Watson and Kevin Kline, who also plays Belle’s father. Side characters, such as the candelabra Lumiére (Ewan McGregor) and his lover Plumette (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), perform “Days in the Sun.” Each musical number provides something refreshing, expressing deep emotions of love, nostalgia or hope from the characters. The songs from the original movie were brought back with incredible visual effects and spectacular dance numbers.

The film also attempts to modernize the original movie to better fit today’s social norms. For example, the village that Belle lives in is culturally diverse, and Belle rejects the town’s constructs against female literacy. Condon also previously announced that Le Fou (Josh Gad), Gaston’s sidekick, would appear as an openly gay character. This caused contrasting views between critics, some with harsh backlash and others with praise for Disney’s decision. However, it isn’t quite as groundbreaking as Disney makes it seem. The subtleness that points towards Le Fou’s sexuality is just that—faint and barely noticeable.

Although most characters were created through motion capture and computer-generated imagery, the actors are full of genuine ardor. Stevens portrays a flawed human-being underneath the ferocity of the Beast, instead of just a special effect. Gaston, portrayed by Luke Evans, begins the film as a man desperate for love from Belle. He almost seems likeable, yet that is when his villainy begins to show through. Gaston uses his status within the village to rouse a crowd, which is somewhat terrifying in its own way. Evans gives us one of Disney’s most famous villains, a character that slowly reveals his flaws and believes he is fighting for the right cause. Emma Watson perfectly plays the part in the film with both her voice and her portrayal of Belle, a loving, intelligent and humble character.
Overall, “Beauty and the Beast” creates something there that wasn’t there before, built upon the foundation of the astounding film that preceded it. The visuals, musical numbers, plot, heartfelt moments and character development form an exhilarating gem for the audience. The classicism shown through the film’s set time period combined with modernity presents a masterpiece of nostalgia and excitement. “Beauty and the Beast” honors the original yet presents something new and unforgettable for every generation to enjoy.

Written by Jeremy Hsiao, Staff writer

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