'Beauty and the Beast's' Live-Action Adaptation [Review] [Video]
"Beauty and the Beast" came out on March 17, 2017. The film is a live-action adaptation of Disney's fairytale movie, by the same name, released in 1991. It stars Emma Watson, Luke Evans, and Dan Stevens. It has a running time of two hours and nine minutes and for those who don't know, it is a musical. Disney did not stray too much from its original animated version.
For the critics and parents who feel that they do not want to see the movie because of a seemingly gay character, let that be abolished, now. Disney did not stray too much from its original animated version. Therefore, the scene encompassed in scrutiny is one in which is in the 1991 version of the movie.
"Beauty and the Beast" begins with the narrator telling of a young prince who lived in a shiny castle. The prince, being of royalty, had everything his heart could desire, which in turn made him spoiled, selfish, and unkind. The narrator explains that the prince only caters to those who he deems beautiful enough or worthy of his attentions.
The scene shows the prince, played by Dan Stevens, readying himself for a ball. During this time the song "Aria" is sung by Madame Garderobe, aka the Wardrobe, played by Audra McDonald. The scene then leads into a beautiful grand hall with lavishly dressed people, dancing as the prince makes his way through the crowd.
When out of nowhere glass doors open and an old haggard woman falls through. Obviously, she needs help and offers him a rose in exchange for this favor. Even more obvious, is the lack of help she will receive from a prince who sees her as less than. Unbeknownst to the selfish young man, the old hag is an enchantress in disguise.
And, as the old saying goes, "never judge a book by its cover," the hag turns into a beautiful enchantress. The prince tries to beg for her forgiveness, however, it is too late. She sees that he is cold hearted and without love, so she turns him into a hideous Beast and his servants into household objects.
Days turned into years and the villagers forgot about the prince because the enchantress put a spell on the townspeople as well.
Belle Is Different
Emma Watson was made for the role of Belle. Her sweet features and demeanor match those of the animated character. Also, who knew she could sing? Belle sweeps in the scene singing the song "Belle." She belts out the verses as she hustles and bustles through the village talking and saying, "hello," to everyone she comes across.
The townspeople refer to young Belle as odd and a bookworm because, in those days, reading and writing were not what a proper young lady did. And, Belle continues her song of books about the characters she's met in them as she makes her way to the bookstore, leaving with a new book in hand.
As she hugs her new find to her chest, the jealous women of the town chime in, citing that her name means beauty, but, "she's nothing like the rest of us."
Gaston the Arrogant Hunter
This brute of a man is an arrogant hunter who has his eye on Belle. Devilishly handsome and full of himself, Gaston, played by Luke Evans, believes he will one day make her his wife. In the 2017 adaptation of "Beauty and the Beast," he is introduced on horseback with his sidekick LeFou, played by Josh Gad.
They nonchalantly converse about Gaston's intentions to make Belle his wife, while on horseback. LeFou makes an off-handed remark, comparing Gaston's intended catch, Belle, who likes books and is kind hearted, to Gaston, who is athletic and cares only for himself, asking if he really thinks she would go for him?
Gaston's attitude towards women and who deserves to be with him is similar to the princes' before he was changed into a beast. The hunter and his sidekick travel into the village, still on their horses. Gaston sings the ending of the "Belle" song as he enters. Women swoon over him wanting his attention, however, he only wants the affections of one, and it is not them.
LeFou jumps off his horses and tells them, "it's never gonna happen, ladies." The end of the scene gathers the voices of the whole town, to round off the song, as they gather in the middle of the towns square singing about Belle, a girl who is different from them.
Gaston then approaches Belle to ask what she is doing later. Braver than most, she says, "nothing," and staves off his advances. She leaves him standing in the courtyard, which only fires his resolve to pursue her more. He likes that she doesn't swoon over him, Belle is not like the rest of them.
Maurice, Belle's Father
Maurice, played by Kevin Kline, is a tinkerer, artist, and of course, Belle's father. The opening shot, of the kind old man, shows him fiddling with a piece that shows him, in miniature form, painting his wife and child.
Belle comes through the door watching her father, silently, as he sings, "How Does a Moment Last Forever." He bellows softly as he fixes his creation. Belle smiles at the tender moment and looks around at her father's art.
Ater the song is over, she walks to her father and starts to help him find different gears for another of her father's projects. The moment shows the love and kindness between two people, who have very little and lost so much, Belle's mother, yet endured.
The scene is endearing as it flows into an easy conversation, between father and daughter, on whether or not Belle is odd. She then asks her dad to tell her one more thing about her mother. He says, "she was fearless... fearless." He prepares to leave to the market and asks his daughter what she wants. She replies, "a rose." He mounts his horse and says, "you ask that every year." To which Belle replies, "and every year you bring it.
During Maurice's journey, he encounters a fallen tree in his path. The only other way to travel is a spooky wood. With courage, he shrugs and presses on. Wolves howl around him, even stalk him as he pulls his carriage forward. Soon the savage beasts begin to hunt the old man and his horse.
Barely making it out alive, Maurice arrives at the Beast's castle. Though it is summer everywhere else, it is not here. The dark and snowy surroundings confuse and disorient the old man. But, he chalks it up to just being weird and makes his way to the castle.
Here, is when the audience gets a glimpse of the animated household objects held within. And, here, is where the kind man, Maurice, gets frightened and runs from the castle, after the little tea cup talks to him.
But, before he flees entirely, Maurice sees a garden of white roses. Remembering his daughter's requests, he stops to pick one. Unfortunately, the Beast is watching him. He stops the kind old man and imprisons him for his theft, for life.
In the prior scene, the audience got a glimpse of this furry horned beast, as he pounced on Maurice. However, it was only a dark rendition. Before his imprisonment, Belle's father's horse fled back home.
The horse arrives back at home muddy and tattered but no worse for wear, where Belle finds him without his owner. She questions the horse about her father's whereabouts becoming frantic. She launches a mission to find him.
Belle enters the Beast's castle fearless and with no reserve, her quest is simple, save her father and leave, or so she thinks. She makes her way up to the East tower where she hears her father cry out. Hurrying to get to him she finds that he is behind bars, and demands to know why.
Maurice tells his daughter to flee and save herself, that there is a beast in the castle, who is keeping him captive. She does not believe him and tries to free him. The Beast comes in standing at the top of stairs across the room. He tells Belle that her father stole from her and had to be punished, for life. Appalled, she demands he be freed.
The horned savage gives Belle an out, telling her she can take her father's place and he will set him free. Of course, she agrees. However, Maurice disagrees, vehemently. Belle asks the Beast to come into the light, he does, and she stammers back in fright. This is where the audience sees what he looks like.
Before leaving Belle asks the Beast if he would allow a daughter to give her father one last kiss saying: "are you so coldhearted you won't let a daughter say goodbye? Forever can spare a minute."
The Beast allows Belle to say goodbye and opens the gate saying, "when this door closes it will not open again.". Inside, Belle hugs her father close. Her father tells her to go live her life and forget him, and not to be afraid. She replies she is not afraid. She then whispers, "I will escape, I promise," and pushes him out before the doors close.
Of course, the Beast calls Belle and her father fools, for her choice. He then drags Maurice from the castle while his daughter yells after them for his dad not to be harmed.
Unbeknownst to the Beast, Lumiere, voiced by Ewan McGregor, and CogsWorth, voiced by Ian McKellen, against the clocks best advice, come to take Belle out of her prison, to a more comfortable dwelling within the castle. They traipse up the stairwell in a flurry of chatter. Belle demands to know who is there. After Lumiere frees her, she swats at him, startled that the objects that are animated are not supposed to be. She quickly recovers seeing that they are not evil and out to harm her.
The candles and many of the objects in the house beliefs are if she falls in love with the Beast, who was once a man before the last peddle falls from the rose, they will be turned back to their former selfs. And, this can not happen if Belle is locked away in a tower.
Belle is taken to her room where she meets Madame Garderobe, played by Audra McDonald, who belts out a few song lyrics, but because of the curse she is becoming increasing tired, rarely able to stay awake.
A Call For Help
The scene cuts to Gaston and his sidekick in the tavern, where the brute is out of sorts because of Belle's response to him, telling him she would never marry him. LeFou tries to cheer up pointing at other women who are interested in him.
Seeing his efforts aren't working he begins to sing "Gaston." In his lyrics, he tells the savage how much people love him and are inspired by him. "No one's slick like Gaston, no one's quick like Gaston, nobody's next to incredibly thick like Gaston."
Suddenly, Maurice burst through the doors and calls out for help. He tells the townspeople that a beast has his daughter and he is keeping her captive in his tower. Of course, at first Gaston and his sidekick laugh at Belle's father, calling him "a crazy old man." But, LeFou makes a suggestion to the brute saying, that if he helps save the woman he wants to make his wife, he will gain the affections of her father and Maurice will bless the marriage.
Dinner With Belle
The scene cuts to Belle trying to escape her bedroom, after refusing to eat with the Beast, by tying bedsheets and fabric together. A knock comes at the door and it is Mrs. Potts, played by Emma Thompson, Mr. Lumiere, and the Clock. They escort the young girl to the dining hall, against their master's demands not to feed her. Belle sits at the table as a fabulous show begins.
The scene is reminiscent of Disney's "Fantasia" movie, with bright colors and dancing objects. Lumiere is in the middle of the table Belle is sitting at and he says:
Ma chere, mademoiselle. It is with my deepest pleasure and greatest pride that I welcome tonight. And now, we invite you to relax. Let us pull up a chair as the dining room proudly presents... your dinner.
Cue in the song, "Be Our Guest," sang by the entire staff. Dishes, silverware, and food fly through the air as Belle watches. The scene ends with a fantastic ending, where the guest of honor doesn't even eat her food.
Upon leaving the dining hall, Belle asks what is up the other stairs. She is told, by the candle, that she is never to go there, it is forbidden. Of course, curiosity takes hold of the young girl and she turns back to the West Wing stairs and climbs them. After walking a long hall Belle comes to closed doors. She opens them and enters the room. Inside, the dilapidated room, Belle explores looking around she finds a portrait of the prince, when he was human.
However, the most interesting of things is at the far end of the room, the rose encased in glass. She walks to it and watches a pedal fall from it. Suddenly, Beast jumps through a window and demands to know why she is there. She flees. Belle runs downstairs and bolts for the front door, this is her chance to get away. The servants try to stop her from leaving but are unsuccessful.
Belle mounts a horse and begins riding through the forest. At first, it seems as though she might make her escape, and then, the wolfs start to howl and attack her. She is knocked off the horse and begins fighting the savages with a large stick. Just as it seems as though Belle is going to lose the fight, Beast comes in to save her.
Beast engages in a fight to the death with the more than six wolfs. He lungs at one of them who rips a hole into his shoulder. In a final attempt to fight the wolfs back, he throws one against a tree, the others flee. Unfortunately, by this time the wounded Beast succumbs to his injuries and collapses. Belle begins to walk away, leaving Beast to die, but she turns, in a last minute decision to help him.
Belle brings Beast back to the castle and over several days she nurses him back to health. This is where the Beast reveals the human side of himself to the young girl.
Falling In Love Isn't Easy
Some say love comes at first site. Other say it is grown over time. In Belle's and Beast's love story the later seems to fit them best. After weeks of nursing someone she felt to be self-centered and cold-hearted, Belle finds out that Beast is full of wonder, and childlike fascination at the world around him.
And, this is where the story comes full circle. Beast falls for Belle, and vise versa. So when she finds out that her father is in trouble Beast allows Belle to leave, knowing she may never come back, knowing that the last pedal is about to fall. But, also knowing that he loves her and can no longer keep her against her will.
Belle leaves with a promise to come back. However, Beast does not believe she will. After arriving, she tells the townsfolk of the beast and that they have nothing to fear. Unfortunately, they do not believe her because of Gaston's rhetoric about how they must kill the beast. Gaston captures her and Maurice to keep them from trying to warn Beast of the gang of villagers on their way to kill him.
Against all odds, Belle and her father escape, and she makes her way to the castle to warn Beast. However, her arrival seems to be too late. The servants have already begun their full transformation into the inanimate objects they were cursed to be years ago. They freeze into their forever positions one by one as Beast is fighting Gaston. He does not know that Belle has returned and nearly lets the brute win.
But, love will not allow him to give up once he has laid eyes on his beloved. He fights with everything he has to reach her before Gaston does. In doing so, he lets his guard down and is shot in the back. Rightfully so, Gaston falls to his death as the castle starts to crumble. Is it too late? Did Belle fail to save the man she loves?
Why of course not. The magic of their love floods over them and the castle transforming it back to its original luster, along with the servant's transformation back to their original selves. After all, love always prevails.
By Tracy Blake
IMDb: 'Beauty and the Beast' 2017
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