Disclosure: I attended a free screening of Beauty and the Beast. All opinions are my own.
Earlier this week my daughter and I attended a screening of Disney’s live action Beauty and the Beast film which opened in theaters on March 17, 2017. We absolutely loved the film and would see it again — I rarely say this about any movie. The new Beauty and the Beast is better than the animated original, and here are five reasons why.
1. Live Action
The film literally comes to life with real people and settings. It’s much more relatable for viewers who can pick up on emotions and intentions through facial expressions and body language. The live action film provides a much more satisfying, human experience.
With stellar singing, dancing, acting, and gorgeous sets, watching Beauty and the Beast was almost like attending a Broadway play. Who knew that Emma Watson (who plays Belle) could sing so well? The performances were mesmerizing. Audiences will not leave bored. In addition to all the musical scores from the Original, the new version adds three new songs.
The Original film gave viewers a simple, somewhat flat story line about the characters. Belle was beautiful and smart. She lived with her quirky inventor dad. The Beast was a former pompous jerk. What was missing was the why behind these characters.
The live action film provides greater depth by revealing background stories. We see life inside the Prince’s (Dan Stevens) castle before he was cursed, and how childhood experiences shaped his personality. Belle is an inventor just like her dad (Kevin Kline), and she finally discovers how her mother passed away. Because of the film’s depth, viewers feel more invested in these characters since they learn what makes them tick.
4. Cinematography and Technology
The beautiful cinematography perfectly creates the mood in each scene, whether it is the joyous footage of Belle singing upon a mountaintop (reminiscent of Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music) or the dreary scenes of wolf-laden paths leading to the Beast’s castle.
The film technology used to make inanimate objects come alive is impressive. Viewers will love watching the castle’s objects sing and dance. All the favorites from the original remain: a candlestick (Ewan McGregor), clock (Ian McKellen), feather duster (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), piano (Stanley Tucci), teapot (Emma Thompson), and wardrobe (Audra McDonald).
5. Modern Updates
Like with many Disney films, characters sometimes say lines with colloquial language used today. It’s as if they’re letting viewers know they’re in on the secret that this is a modern day film. For example, here are lines from Gaston (Luke Evans) and his sidekick Le Fou (Josh Gad).
“Oh, Le Fou, you are the best. Why has no girl snapped you up?”- Gaston
“I’ve been told that I’m clingy, but I don’t get it.”- Le Fou
Speaking of Le Fou, apparently some people are in an uproar that the character is gay. If I hadn’t read about this before seeing the movie, I may not have even picked up on it…I know my daughter didn’t. It’s a subtle subplot infused with humor, and Disney doesn’t hit viewers over the head with it. There is so much going on in the film that this “issue” is really a non-issue.
As for Belle, in one scene she tries to teach a child in town how to read despite disapproval from villagers who scorn educating females. In many countries in the world today, girls are still not allowed to go to school. I applaud Disney for encouraging education for everyone.
Another modern take is the interracial relationship between the candlestick and duster. We don’t find this out until the end of the film when they transform back to humans. Disney embraces diversity so this is not really a surprise and was a nice modern reflection of society today.
I really enjoyed the live action Beauty and the Beast film. With universal themes of self-identity and love, persecution and good conquering evil, Beauty and Beast really is a tale as old as time.