“It’s my favourite part because, you’ll see,
here’s where she meets Prince Charming
~ but she won’t discover that it’s him ‘til chapter three.”
If you’re a longtime follower of this little blog, you already know how fond I am of stories, how invested and engrossed I get in the tales of fictional characters. I’ve raved about Jane Eyre and her dashing Mr. Rochester, I’ve gushed over the more modern romance between Henry DeTamble and Clare Abshire, and I’ve even obsessed over a piece of chick lit. every once and a awhile as well. I am the type of person who wears my literature loving heart on my sleeve (in all its green glory), and I’ve ranted about other forms of pop culture as well, such as my adoration for musicals like The Phantom of the Opera and plays like Angels in America. And, I’ve mentioned on countless occasions, that one particular film, from the earliest days of my childhood, touched me on a profound level when I was only a little girl.
~ Beauty and the Beast ~
Arguably Disney’s greatest movie. It officially came out in November 1991, the very month and year I was born, and so there’s no denying that Belle and I were born around the same time, and may in fact (at least in my mind) be one and the same person. Now, naturally, I’m somewhat delusional when it comes to fiction, making it such a huge driving force in my life, allowing it to inform many of my decisions over the years, like the courses I studied in university, and the friends I’ve chosen to surround myself with, and the man I’ve decided to marry. But no piece of fiction has been with me as long as Beauty and the Beast, and I feel strongly that it is responsible for many of the aspects of my personality that I hold so dear. There’s no doubt that the movies and books we encounter as young children have the ability to shape our thoughts and mold our future, and I was such a young girl when I first watched Belle’s story. Is it any wonder, then, that I went on to develop a passion for the French language and for novels and the written word? Growing up in a small town just east of Toronto was also significant, because I identified on so many levels with Belle’s desire to escape her “provincial life”, the “little town” in which she was born and raised. Is it any wonder, then, that I chose to go off to the big city, to downtown Toronto, for university, and that I have decided to make this very city the home of my adulthood? Belle, although to many people no more than a cartoon princess, was my soul mate as a child, my role model, and so very much of who I have become is owed to her.
So, imagine my jealousy when I heard that Beauty and the Beast was being remade, as a live action film, and that Emma Watson was taking my rightful role of Belle. I’m kidding, of course – I was unbearably excited as soon as I learned that my beloved B&B was getting an update, and although I wasn’t sure how I felt about any of the casting, I was eager to give the film the chance it deserved. I went in with an open-mind (which was surprising to everyone who knows my intense love for the original), and I immediately bought my tickets to see the movie this past Saturday, the day after opening night.
Well, as much as I would’ve loved to be able to critique something about the film and maybe present a bit of a more dignified review, I can’t – the film was nothing short of PERFECT! I was in tears several times throughout the movie, and every tiny detail of it took my breath away. This is going to be another rave-y post because I can’t gush about this movie enough. I was tempted to pay for another ticket and watch it from the beginning again within minutes of it finishing, and if it wasn’t sold out, I probably would have.
I saw the movie with my fiancé, mother and father, all of whom are consciously aware of just how important this story is to me. The most surprising thing is that all three of them absolutely loved the movie too! I was expecting my mom to adore it because she has always been just as obsessed with the original as I am, but I was not anticipating just how excited my dad and SS would be about it. They’re both eager to see the movie again and SS was singing lines from the various songs throughout the rest of the weekend. He makes a pretty convincing Gaston, I must say!
The movie is touching – that is probably the best word to describe it. So much of it just took my breath away, from the incredible and jaw-dropping sets to the gorgeous costumes. I was extremely skeptical about the CGI and hoping that the Beast wouldn’t look too cartoon-y and ridiculous, and in the end I was so impressed with how realistic he looked. His facial expressions were exact and I had no problem believing that he was actually real. And of course, my favourite enchanted objects looked exquisite, as usual, and I was quite fond of the reboot and makeover they each got.
The music was just as incredible as in the original, and I was blown away by the musical numbers, particularly the performance of the song “Gaston”. Was I expecting Luke Evans to be able to sing? No. Was I thoroughly impressed with him, on all accounts, but particularly during his musical number? Absolutely! Luke Evans was by far the breakout star of the entire movie for me (probably because I have always had a soft spot for the villain!), and his dancing and singing was absolutely perfect! This specific scene was easily the most fun of the entire movie, and Evans oozed this confidence that was exactly what the role needed. He was my favourite part of the whole movie, no question!
Credit must be given to the other superb actors though. Ewan McGregor was hilarious as Lumière, and he performed “Be Our Guest” flawlessly. Ian McKellan was the dream Cogsworth, and Emma Thompson was the quintessential Mrs. Potts – she also performed the title song with grace and skill. Emma Watson was, I must admit, a pretty great Belle, and while that character is very dear to me and it is hard for me to say this, I think she was very well cast and did a good job channeling Belle’s goodness and charm.
“How do you feel about growing a beard?” ~ Belle to Prince Adam
(Easily the most adorable and funny line of the whole film, and definitely my favourite!)
The greatest surprise for me, though, was Dan Stevens as the Beast. I haven’t seen Stevens in any other roles (although SS tells me he’s remarkable in the TV show Legion) and so I had no expectations of him – but, he truly blew me away! One of the many minor additions to the original is a solo song for the Beast called “Evermore”, which I found so endearing and moving. Stevens brilliantly acted it and his singing was just great, and I found that particular scene to be so essential to the story because it really added a human quality to the Beast’s character. There was no doubt, after that scene, that he had truly become a prince on the inside, where it counts.
“I am not a beast.” ~ Adam (aka the Beast)
I’d also like to briefly touch on the controversy surrounding some aspects of the film. There’s no need to go into too much detail because I don’t want to bring any negativity to this review or give any credibility to this criticism, and I honestly haven’t read too much up on it because the headlines alone frustrated me. Anyone who’s being critical of the fact that the film does include references to homosexuality is being totally ridiculous, in my opinion. The film is beautiful, it stays true to its strong message of loving people for who they are on the inside, and it presents powerful role models to young children, particularly young girls. By including some subtle references to homosexuality, I feel that the filmmakers only made the story more inclusive and more representative of our society, and I think that is simply wonderful! There is at least one character in this film that everyone can attach to and be inspired by, and I think that is exactly how Disney stories need to be updated and brought into the 21st century. For anyone who criticizes the film for these sorts of things, I would encourage them to actually see it with an open mind and an open heart, because they may actually learn a thing or two about love and kindness.
Beauty and the Beast deserves 5-stars, if you ask me, and I would highly recommend it to anyone and everyone! There is something for literally everyone to enjoy and I am so happy to say that it did the original so very proud!
❥❥❥❥❥ (out of 5)
Girl with a Green Heart