by Marianne Farrell
Photo Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios
It truly has become a “tale as old as time” with “songs as old as rhyme.” Since Disney’s original Beauty and the Beast released in 1991, the classic love story has been an integral part of growing up for generations and continues to sweep people away with some of the most iconic Disney songs ever made.
When Disney announced a live-action revival of the movie, the world went crazy.
“There was so much hype for this movie that I was nervous it wouldn’t be as good as expected,” said Christina Marcisak (COM ’20). “But, I thought it was better.”
The greatest element to this fantastic film is Emma Watson. Her portrayal as Belle immediately captivates the audience and her singing voice encapsulates the sweet Belle that we all grew up with. Contrary to the original story, and one of the major changes the new film made, Belle, as opposed to her father in the original, is the inventor. During the film, she invents a sort of washing machine so that she may read her book undisturbed. Unfortunately the inconsiderate and often close-minded small townsfolk derail her plans, but nevertheless Belle’s newfound profession transforms her into a more modern take on the Disney princess.
Having Emma Watson play Belle is also indicative of what Disney truly wanted for this film. Watson, a profound and outspoken feminist, adamantly defends the Disney franchise and Belle’s often-controversial love story. Her passion for this project definitely renewed the hope of many that Disney princesses are more than just their love stories; they can really have an impact and stand up for themselves, as Watson does in her daily life.
“Emma Watson does an incredible job depicting Belle while also adding her own strength and intelligence to the role, ” said Julia Goetz, a student at Boston College.
Watson may have been the star of this enchanting movie, but the other characters add to the fun remake. Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts is a truly wonderful addition, and her singing voice outdid any previous expectations I had of her. As always, Sir Ian McKellen shined as the sometimes-grumpy Cogsworth. Together with his partner, Ewan McGregor’s Lumière, he added an out of this world majestic flair to the film as well. Other stellar additions to the Beauty and the Beast legacy include Madame de Garderobe (Audra McDonald), Maestro Cadenza (Stanley Tucci), Le Fou (Josh Gad) and Plumette (Gugu Mbatha-Raw).
Not only was the casting perfect for each respective role, but the film also did the original score justice. It can be very hard for some actors to transition into the musical theatre world needed for a movie like this one, but, surprisingly, all their voices were impressive.
In addition to the original score are new additions such as the melancholy romance ballad “Evermore.” This song barely sounds edited or overworked, even though Dan Stevens’ original voice was lowered significantly to match the Beast’s rippling, deep baritone. Another new song, “How Does a Moment Last Forever” by Céline Dion serves as a nice tribute to the original title track “Beauty and the Beast,” sung by Dion and Peabo Bryson in the original. These debut songs stand up to the old classics.
The detail was so thoroughly planned out in the movie that it was hard not to feel like the movie theater was a part of that small French town. The intricate detail of the Bourbon-era costumes stand out as one of the finer elements of the film. While the animated version of the original movie did feature Belle’s stunning yellow dress, seeing the gorgeous, iconic dress come together in an almost Cinderella-like moment was magical. It was also nice to see the historically accurate makeup, especially in regards to the Prince’s part in the first scene of the movie.
However, some viewers were not fond of the mixture of live action on the screen.
“I’m mixed with the live action part. It was well-created and the costume and set design was gorgeous, and the movie was amazing by sticking to the original script,” said Becca Buchholz (COM ’20) “However, the beast being real was a tiny bit creepy, especially when they fall in love, which is a little more pronounced than in the animated [film].”
The final aspect of the film that truly stood out was the new inclusion of a background story for both Belle and the Beast. Without planting motivations for each of the characters, the original movie lacked something. Creating slightly new plotlines for Belle and the Beast made their intentions and actions clearer and greatly added to the classic tale.
While Disney films may not be for everyone, this movie is more than just a “Disney movie”. Seeing it is a way to rekindle those childhood memories that many have lost over the years. Beauty and the Beast is a great movie for all ages and definitely brings a little bit of magic into daily life.