On Friday, March 3, I was lucky enough to view a special preview screening of the Beauty and the Beast live action film. We’re talking stars aligning here and my faith being restored in all humanity—that kind of lucky.
Anyway. I was so freaking worried about this movie because how can something possibly live up to expectations you’ve had in your head for your whole damn life? Beauty and the Beast was released the year I was born so for once I’m actually not being dramatic.
For ages, Belle was my favourite Disney princess for her love of books and the fact that if we became best friends she would 100% let me borrow books from her library. And as much as I love Emma Watson, when I heard that she would legit be singing in this movie I freaked out a bit because what if she was only mediocre? What if I didn’t like her voice and forever associated her with the ruination of a beloved character?
(Yes, I’m back to being dramatic.)
I shouldn’t have worried. Emma Watson sang beautifully. While it was clear that she’s not at the same technical level of some of the Broadway stars in the movie (who is, really?), her voice was clear and pure and strong, which is, as far as I’m concerned, all you need from Belle.
Most of the movie was CGI, which a lot of people were worried about, but I think it was pulled off brilliantly. There were only about two moments in the entire movie where it didn’t look like the actor was seeing something on the magnificent scale that the CGI team would later build, but the moments were so brief they could easily be forgiven.
Truthfully, the CGI was so good that I soon forgot about the characters as I’d seen them before the curse and was surprised for a second time when the actors behind them were revealed.
A few years ago, I noticed some people pointing out flaws in Beauty and the Beast, like the fact that Belle, learned as she seemed to be, had no idea there was a gigantic effing castle just up the road. And then there was the inconsistency with the seemingly summery weather in Belle’s town, while at the castle she enjoyed snowball fights. And the fact that the Beast was probably a child when he was cursed, and he was really just obeying Stranger Danger but not letting some creepy old lady into the castle.
Well, this movie didn’t just brush that stuff under a rug. It tackled it head on, with a heartbreaking sub-plot about how the Enchantress also erased the castle and its inhabitants from everyone’s memories, including those of the people they loved. As for the weather, the characters remark about how weird it is for there to be snow in June, which feeds into the insinuation that the castle has been suffering through an unending winter (also due to the curse).
And the prince? Well, he wasn’t a kid in this movie. There was mention of the passage of years, but nothing specific that proved or disproved how old he was. In fact, the glimpses of the Beast’s former life as a spoilt aristocrat were kind of shocking and dismaying. I wasn’t sure I could learn to like the Beast after seeing him like that, but the progression of the story allayed my concerns and proved once again that careful consideration had been paid to the way that characters were evolving.
This movie has so much more depth than the animated original—which is no surprise, given that it had fewer time constraints and the ability to rework a script based on 26 years of debate. The new scenes and new songs help move the narrative along at a great pace, building on the story rather than intruding.
Also, A+, Disney, for featuring the first openly gay character. It’s already been revealed that the character is LeFou and I won’t spoil the moment when you know that he’s no longer confused about what he wants, but let me just say that it seemed natural and wonderful.
I’m not going to lie; I lost count of how many times my eyes welled up. The nostalgia of the music and seeing it all come to life in a different way was almost too much. I cannot wait to see this film again, and I hope you all love it as much as I do.
Beauty and the Beast will be released in Australian cinemas on Thursday, March 23.