Review: Beauty and the Beast 2017.
The new live action Beauty and the Beast has been released and I was invited to attend a special screening with Edgars Club and Disney Africa last night.
The invite told us to dress as a modern day princess – so I went full Belle, with yellow floaty dress even a rose and the gold in her hair. I added my Aldo Zebra-print heels, for the ‘beast’ element – plus it’s Disney Africa, so we must represent.
We were greeted with a red carpet, flanked by candelabra (I leaned in to listen, they weren’t talking ones) and a sparkly wall featuring a crystal rose, specifically made for this event, there are only 4 in the world. (AND I WON ONE! Yay for my witty Tweets.)
A Cogsworth (from the 1991 animated movie) was flown in from Disneyland Paris (Beauty and the Beast is set in France) so he was the VIP, and also went as a gift to the best dressed… which went to an 8 year old version of me (Also dressed as Belle). Best Dressed? Fine. The kid can have it *she grumbles whilst nursing her crystal rose*.
After some Red Rose Icing cupcakes and BOS tea, we got free Popcorn and headed into the film where we were welcomed by Luke from Disney Africa who said “Disney ‘n probleem nie” in his speech, on purpose, which pretty much made my night.
And then… The movie. (LOVE)
First the rant about 1991 version
I re-watched the 1991 Beauty and the Beast this past weekend, in anticipation of seeing the new one. I’m THAT excited. I adored the original, obviously. I was 8 when it came out. The PERFECT age. However, the 34 year old Angel was a lot more sceptical of the tale.
First of all, we judge the townsfolk for thinking Belle is weird, but she literally reads a book to sheep in the middle of the town, and it’s a book about her own life (“Here’s where she meets Prince Charming, but she won’t discover that it’s him ’till Chapter 3”.) Talking to sheep, and ignoring the townsfolk? She IS weird.
Also, did you know, in the original, Belle and the Beast fall in love over 48 hours? 2 days, guys. That’s how long it took for her to figure “fuck it, he has a library and a castle, he’s rich, I’m in” and him, an evil, angry, hateful beast – to get all gentle and to fall for her. Remember he got cursed for being mean to an ugly old hag, who was really a beautiful enchantress (why did she have to be beautiful? She could have been an ugly enchantress. But I guess her being ‘beautiful’ made her more valuable? Ok, the feminist in me is sitting down.) The only way for him to break the curse was to to fall in love, how lucky for his superficial mind that the MOST BEAUTIFUL GIRL IN THE VILLAGE happened upon his castle. That’s ridiculous. So he stays superficial AF, he doesn’t learn anything.
Did you realise, the Beast is 21 in the 1991 version? “The last rose petal falls on his 21st Birthday” … erm, what? He’s a 21 year old? He’s got such a deep voice – for a start. And the youngest he could have been when she cursed him is 16*. So that means it’s been 5 years – and the castle is abandoned, decrepit and forgotten – in 5 years. And it’s so dusty and gross, when ALL OF HIS STAFF are literally household appliances with nothing else to do… and the castle looks like that? They are horrific at their jobs. Hey, feather duster, maybe stop making out with Lumiere behind the curtains and actually do some dusting! No wonder your boss is so angry all the time. Gosh.
*UPDATE Edit* Thanks to Ian Belknap for pointing out that the lyric in “Be Our Guest” points to them having been cursed for 10 years. Which means the Prince was 11 when he turned into a Beast. So an 11 year old was mean to a witch, and she punished him pretty severely. What a bitch.
Also, 5 or 10 years went past and the world forgot about him? He was the Prince, in a freaking castle. And it took 5-10 years to forget him? AND THE CASTLE?! What? Everyone’s ok with this storyline though? Ok.
So aside from all that, the songs, the characters, the YELLOW DRESS, the happy ending are PERFECT. (Ok – the ‘prince’ version of the Beast is NOT hot, I would have been mad AF if I was Belle, and then suddenly my sexy beast turns into that awkward looking, scrawny Prince with those weird nostrils).
Ok, so enter famed feminist Emma Watson as Belle in the 2017 remake:
First off, let me state: this version is brilliant. I want to see it again, already.
It encapsulates all of the elements you loved in the original, but incorporates enough additional backstory (and new songs) to develop characters so that 99% of my issues with the original are all gone. (That last 1% stays for the ‘beautiful’ enchantress. Although they do highlight the superficiality of that a bit more with the enchantress’s return at the end of the film.)
It stayed much more authentic to the original Disney cartoon than the live action Jungle Book or Cinderella did. Which made me so happy. I literally had goosebumps on several occasions as they cleverly recreated iconic scenes, close enough that you know the exact moment in the cartoon, but well done enough that it’s still unique to this version.
The ‘living’ household appliances posed the biggest ‘live action’ problem as they kept them looking very realistic. Obviously, this isn’t Roger Rabbit. The Be our guest number was still pulled off absolutely as magically as the cartoon version, and Disney really managed to encapsulate the ‘realism’ of the enchanted castle. They explain why the village forgot the Beast, they don’t make him 21, they justify why all his employees are also cursed, and there is much more backstory about his family and Belle’s mother. Which helps you to understand why they are, in fact, perfect for each other “happy sigh”.
Emma Watson was great as Belle, and they give her far more backbone, she’s an inventor and far more diplomatic with her ‘arrest’ by the beast, and as such – Emma did us all proud. And the ‘cute’ snowball fight scene had a hilarious upgrade:
The rest of the cast is fabulous, Josh Gad as LeFou (Disney’s first ever openly gay character) stole the show as (Luke Evans) Gaston’s side-kick. Emma Thompson as Mrs Potts makes you not miss Angela Landsbury. And who better to play the voice of rule-abiding Cogsworth than Sir Ian McKellen? Ewan McGregor as Lumiere was also charming, and we all know the man can sing!
I don’t want to give too many spoilers, so I’m not going to dissect the movie scene by scene. Just go and see it, if you loved the original, you won’t be disappointed. We all choked back tears a few times at the iconic songs, but I always cry in musical numbers in the theatre – so ignore me.
I’m off to play the new soundtrack on apple music. Again.
(Although I still prefer the Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson version of the song, sorry Ariana Grande and John Legend.)
*High-Five* Thanks Disney Africa and Edgars Club.