Beauty and the Beast (2017)
What the hell is this? This is a 3AM stream of consciousness review of the new Beauty and the Beast. I call it an informal review because it’s basically a list of bullet points going through every musical number in the show and every other topic squished in there that I could think of.
1991 = animated classic
1994 = Broadway smash hit
2017 = the new live-action
- Opening Sequence:
o We got rid of the stain glass bit from 1991, too bad. Invalidates a lot of tattoos
o He’s not young when he’s cursed like in 1991, but his parents are still unaccounted for in the beginning. The Beast doesn’t get portrayed as a victim until he saves Belle from the wolves. We dislike him more as an audience when we believe he has no heart, which is how Belle meets him, so we fall in love with him as she does sort of.
- “Aria” The ball
o Slay Audra Ann McDonald. I love her. No one on Broadway like her right now.
o All the dancers in white, reminiscent of The Phantom of the Opera movie (2004) with everyone in white, gold, and black for “Masquerade”
o Great makeup for the Prince. He’s painted up in blue eye shadow for the ball he’s throwing that the Enchantress crashes. The makeup is supposed to be like a masque for a costume ball.
- The Enchantress
o Her transformation was reminiscent of Fiona’s transformation in the first Shrek movie with all the white and the gold light and she was glowing
o Tweak to the original spell, no one remembers the prince and his family and the castle
o Emma Watson’s voice??? It sounds slightly… ‘retouched’ is the nice term. It’s too loud and overbearing, sounds all-encompassing. Her sustained notes vibrated in my head in a different place than all the other voices in the film. It’s missing the natural breathiness and slight vibrato that comes with the human voice when it sustains notes, missing some roughness. So it’s either they touched her up a bit in the studio, or she’s such a quiet singer that they had to ramp up her volume to an unnatural level causing her to sound slightly artificial, or I could be completely wrong and she has a voice clearer than a bell.
o She went from teaching sheep to read to teaching a little girl to read at the town fountain, who is (shocker) also in a truer blue much like Belle. But since we assume that Maurice taught her to read, it’s so typical that Belle gets the blame of the villagers, rather than her father. Blame the woman, it’s very accurate for the time period.
o The village fountain got such a downgrade from the 1991, it looks more like a gazebo over a large well, but I suppose for an actual small French village 150 years ago it’s more realistic
o We first meet Mrs. Pott’s husband in the opening number, but we don’t discover that he’s Mr. Potts until the battle between the villagers and the objects. He’s the round man with hella mutton chops saying he’s forgotten something but he can’t remember what, which is the effect of the curse
- Belle’s cottage
o Her father the inventor, Maurice? (Kevin Kline was wonderful, to be honest, very sweet and pensive and humble) He’s not nearly as innovative as he was. In 1991, he was going to the fair for a few days (not one day like in 2017) to try and make money off of his wood chopper. In 2017, he’s tinkering away at a music box depicting a loving scene between him and his wife and child from the past. And surprise, he’s a painter now. Very sentimental, but a little meh. He takes the music box with him to wherever, but if he’s still going to the fair to make money so they can get out of the little town like in 1991, is he going to sell the music box? He doesn’t have any other inventions to sell as far as we see. It could be that he’s selling his paintings, but we don’t see that. To me, there’s no way that he’s gonna sell the music box, and if he was, Belle would suspect it and stop him.
o Maurice’s intentions have changed. In 1991, he talked about Belle being able to go to all the places in her books if he wins this inventor’s contest at the fair, but in 2017, that’s not the case. He’s an artist, who takes off for a much shorter affair without giving us his intention. There’s no talk of a contest, I don’t think the word fair is even mentioned. And he doesn’t seem very encouraging of Belle’s day dreaming. He admits that the village is small-minded, but safe. I get that he’s obsessed with protecting Belle after fleeing the plague and leaving behind his infected wife, but by not having that bit from 1991 about her one day going on adventures, he seems more protective than 1991 Maurice, being more comfortable with the idea that she’s safe despite being unsatisfied and outcast by her community, things we know he’s aware of because she legit just asked him if he thought she was odd
o Also, “No Matter What”, a song written for Belle and Maurice in 1994 was cut and “replaced” with Maurice barely singing “How Can a Moment Last Forever”, a vapid song that I can’t remember in the slightest
- Belle’s mother:
o Dies of the plague: rip out my heart will you because he can’t even kiss his wife goodbye and she can’t kiss her infant daughter goodbye. We’re shown in a sort of flashback sequence that Maurice and baby Belle have to leave Belle’s mother to die alone from plague in order to protect themselves
o According to Maurice, Belle’s mother was ahead of her time, people copied her after they shunned her apparently, and she was fearless
o Maurice doesn’t tell Belle what happened to her (other than she’s dead), that he left her, because he’s afraid that Belle will hate him for it? Or that she won’t understand? That it will be too painful for her to know the truth?
- Belle knows about the curse
o This is a new development from 1991, she doesn’t know in that version, or in 1994 for that matter. But here, the curse is partially explained to her by the objects and by the Beast himself, but she doesn’t know how the curse can be reversed. I’m a little foggy if she knows the curse can be reversed at all, I kind of don’t think so. The objects make it seem pretty final
o Also, another new tweak: the Enchantress not only gave the Beast the ticking time bomb rose and magic mirror, she also gave him a magic book that will literally transport you anywhere in the world. Genius on the part of the story adapters: make the Prince a hideous Beast that people would surely murder either out of fear, sport, or hunger, then make him so fucking lonely, and then actually give him the means to find people and reach them anywhere in the world. Then watch his soul die as he can’t do it because he’ll be killed by the very people he needs to cure his loneliness. Fucking genius.
o I wasn’t sure if we were gonna kill him in 2017, if that was too violent for Disney now. But they still decided to kill him, but clearly on the terms that he had to be written more deserving of death. So they made him try to kill Maurice after Maurice refuses to give Gaston a blessing of marriage to Belle.
o Having him be an army captain was a great addition to his previously non-existent backstory. It made him blood thirsty. We later learn from Lefou that he flourished in the war. To keep Gaston calm while he’s getting frustrated with Maurice, Lefou reminds him to take deep breaths and think of happy thoughts, which end up being battle, guns, blood, killing, and most disturbingly of all, widows. I realize now that ‘widows’ was supposed to mean that Gaston was happy when he killed the men these women were married to, who had to be soldiers, which meant he liked to win in combat, but I didn’t interpret it that way. My mind immediately went to the common practice of soldiers invading territory and raping the women there, many of which end up being the widows of soldiers. I thought that that comment meant Gaston was a marauder, and not the Harry Potter kind, the kind who pillages towns in times past. So the widow comment made me even more uneasy than it already should have, which I think was kind of inconsiderate on Disney’s part, though I believe wholly unintentional. I’m positive that Disney didn’t mean for it to be interpreted that way, it was just jarring to hear while sitting in the theatre
o Gaston using a gun, shooting the Beast three times, during the big fight was so twenty-first century. In 1991, he was stabbed in the back, but I guess Disney recognized that if they were gonna remake the story live-action, they had to make it more realistic, which means they couldn’t just expect audiences to believe that a couple stabs could kill a big beast that quickly, so they shot him with an old flintlock pistol three times.
o We still have Gaston plead for his life over the edge, and we still have him betray the Beast’s trust. When the Beast spares his life, the Beast is trusting Gaston not to kill him. Oops. Gaston gets the gun and shoots him again, dehumanizing him to the audience for the final time, and then he dies immediately after.
o Gaston insults Belle a lot less in 2017, outright anyways. His very immodest song “Me” from 1994 is cut, which takes a lot of the edge off. The line, “How can you read this? There are no pictures.” Is gone, instead replaced by Gaston commenting on a book she has in her hand rather respectfully. She asks if he’s read it, he admits that he hasn’t (brownie points for him because I totally expected him to lie and say he had and she would test him with basic plot questions that he would fail) but says he’s read other books in a sort of careless way. So he does sort of insult books in Belle’s eyes by generalizing them, as if all books are the same. He does step on her cabbages in the cottage’s garden, despite insisting he’s changed. Belle tells him, “No one can change that much.” Which I thought was actually a little rude on Belle’s part, and something she finds out later is not true because the Beast transforms mentally and emotionally and eventually physically right before her eyes. I mean, sure, Gaston is potentially threatening and annoying, but to belittle him by saying he’s incapable of great progress is kind of mean. But maybe it’s good that she’s a little unnecessarily mean because that shows she has her own flaws even though she’s our heroine.
- The Gay:
o Three moments that Disney should not have advertised because they honestly weren’t worth the trouble:
- The questionable moments between Gaston and Lefou: Gaston and Lefou are in a field on horseback and Lefou asks something to the effect of, “Are you really sure you want to put in all this effort to win over Belle? Look at how good you got it already, look at us.” Us, referring to them as an item. A little iffy, but throughout the whole film Gaston makes his sexuality very clear, which is straight as hell. During “Gaston” he and Lefou end up in a lover’s embrace, which Gaston initiates the release of. Lefou being obviously responsible for Gaston’s well-being and temper can be interpreted as more than just a best-friend thing, but maybe something a wife in the context of a traditional marriage is supposed to be responsible for.
- During the battle between the objects and the villagers, Madame De Garde-Robe gives Gaston’s three lackeys a makeover, complete with gowns and wigs and makeup. Two of them run in terror and humiliation, while the last one beams and gives the most delicious smile, clearly loving being in drag.
- For the Finale, we get a shot of Lefou dancing with a woman, then he switches partners to find himself in the arms of a man and his face just lights up. He obviously likes the change, but he’s also kind of surprised maybe with the forwardness of the other man or his good fortune to suddenly be dancing with another man or maybe he’s surprised that he favors dancing with another man so much.
o What a fun number. I cried. This number was pretty much perfect. Josh Gad was the perfect choice for Lefou. Our Gaston Luke Evans’ voice really surprised me, I’m very proud of him.
o I wish Gaston’s throne-like chair from 1991 was in the 2017 more. This chair did not compare, it looked just like a nice chair and didn’t have the big antlers on it/behind it.
o I wonder why Disney decided to make the Silly Girls brunettes, not keep them blonde like in 1991. Are we witnessing Disney trying to combat the dumb blonde stereotype?
- “Home” and “A Change in Me”
o Not in the 1991, “Home” written for Belle for Broadway in 1994, “A Change In Me” added in 1998 for Toni Braxton when she played Belle
o It was Disney’s way of empowering Belle in 1994
o Also was a way to be fair to the women of the stage playing Belle because until “Home” and “A Change in Me” was written, Belle actually didn’t have her own song or a musical theme all her own. She just had extended solos like in “Something There” and she had “Belle (Reprise)”
o So why did they get rid of her ballads for 2017? They were not adequately replaced. In 1991 she doesn’t have her own song, for Broadway she gets two very empowering and character-enrichening ballads, and for 2017 she gets “How Does a Moment Last Forever/Paris of My Childhood” which is honestly only about a minute or two of song, and it’s technically a reprise of “How Does a Moment Last Forever” because Maurice sang it first and “Belle (Reprise)” which is also not really her own song because all the villagers take it over and sing it first. Belle’s 1994 ballads are not adequately replaced, and they were decent songs endorsed by Disney, so what gives? They’ve stripped Belle of her musical presence and power. But why did they do it? The ballads were empowering, they displayed Belle’s development at key points in the story, and they gave whoever was going to play Belle more musical credit (both performance-wise and talent-wise). Was it because Disney didn’t trust Emma Watson’s singing voice? She sounds good enough, not amazing, but just try the songs in different keys and you’d probably find something that would suit her. Was it because the songs were too musical theater-y? First of all: rude. You created those songs, Disney, and it is a musical after all. But at the same time, musical theatre ballads do have a certain cadence and feel to them that doesn’t always read as well on screen as they do when they’re being performed live. Maybe Disney thought that the songs just didn’t work for the live action. Maybe it’s some other reason, but whatever it was, why didn’t they write new music? They clearly don’t mind replacing original songs, as evidenced by “Days in the Sun” filling in for “Human Again” and “Evermore” taking the place of “If I Can’t Love Her”. If the songs didn’t go over well on screen or Emma Watson’s voice couldn’t carry them, why didn’t they just write music that remedied both of those things? They did a blow to Belle in that way, I think. She may have more dialogue than in 1991 and 1994, but all that would pale in comparison to one stellar number that was all Belle’s for the new movie. Disney stripped Belle of her musical power in 2017.
- “Be Our Guest”
o I cried through the whole thing
o I thought I was on drugs
o I loved it
o Best number in the whole movie, “Gaston” coming in second
o It was so fast a colorful, a feast for the eye
o Lumiere has some hilarious dialogue before the number as he’s readying the kitchen for Belle’s entrance. He tries some red marina-looking sauce from a large pot on the stove and says something like, “I haven’t had taste buds for years, but I’m sure it is magnificent!” And I laughed so loud. Pure gold.
o Ewan McGregor (Lumiere) was pretty good, much better than I thought he’d be. I was questionable of Disney hiring a Scottish actor to play a French character, I was thinking they’d choose an actor with a natural accent closer to French because Ewan McGregor’s vocals aren’t all that impressive. He can sing, but he can’t sing. So it’s not like it had to be Ewan McGregor, it could have been another actor. But his CGI counterpart was very charming.
o Mrs. Pott’s solo had a weird interlude in it where dishes and tea cups were spinning in circles around her while she was in the center of the frame with her eyes closed ‘heating up’ but it was creepy and unnecessary and really stopped the momentum of the song.
- “Days in the Sun”
o Stupidest shit in the fucking world. The fuck was that? I love the object cast, but the fuck was that song? Half of it was Beast backstory and the other half was object lamenting. The song was not memorable in any way, shape, or form. I legit can’t remember how the chorus went. I know the song was slow-ish. “Human Again” should have stayed. That was the object song, written in 1991, expanded upon for Broadway in 1994.
o A word about the objects: Can we just put Audra Ann McDonald (Madame de Garderobe) in every move-musical from now until the end of time? Her solo in the Finale was fucking flawless. I’m so offended that they gave her a husband (Cadenza, played by Stanley Tucci, who did great) and scrapped the relationship between her and Cogsworth, though. To be fair, the 1994 really blew that relationship up compared to the 1991. Also, that nasally peasant woman who didn’t like Belle teaching another girl to read ends up with Cogsworth? No wonder he ends the film so miserable, actually trying to turn back into a clock when she embraces him. Ian McKellen was great despite the sorry fate of his character. The relationship between Babett (now Plumette) and Lumiere was a lot less racy than in 1991 and especially 1994, it was more fluffy and grounded in emotional love compared to physical love and sexual humor. Emma Thomspon was a good Mrs. Potts, good singing voice. She wasn’t anything special and she certainly didn’t sound as iconic as Angela Lansbury in 1991, but she didn’t mess up the role. She did good, she was everything we expected her to be, she just wasn’t anything special. Chip was great, very cute. All the CGI counterparts looked pretty good (except Mrs. Potts and Chip but you get used to it pretty fast), especially Lumiere. The animators and designers clearly worked the hardest on him and Cogsworth, as they should, as they are the iconic duo of the objects.
- “Something There”
o Was fine, good. Nothing wrong with it. Seemed to come a little fast, I wasn’t convinced that Belle was that warmed up to the Beast when the song came, but you just have to go with it.
o The moment where the Beast feeds the birds in 1991 was replaced by him petting Phillip the horse. Also, he fucking nails Belle with a snowball bigger than her head and I snorted really loud in the theatre.
o The library reveal scene was almost perfect. Belle’s reaction was so much better than 1991. Here in 2017, she squeals and does a little skip jump thing that is just so organic and adorable, but we missed the big sweeping shot of the whole library and musical swell of 1991. They pretty much should have copied that moment frame for frame. So close.
- “How Does a Moment Last Forever (Reprise)/Paris of My Childhood”
o Emma Watson’s Belle’s only song, if you can even call it that it’s so short. Okay, she also has “Belle (Reprise)” but that is also very short.
o Honestly, the scene is so tragic. This is the part where we learn what happened to Belle’s mother. I cried. It was horrifying. I was so disturbed by how dark it was, that Disney would write something so romantically twisted and stick it in with all this other heavy stuff. It was jarring, but the song kind of fell flat. The song had little to do with my reaction to the content of the scene, I think. I would love a real song during that scene or maybe right after. That would be a great place for a ballad for Belle. Or even the Beast, he didn’t have his own song in 1991, they gave him two songs and a reprise with some solos in 1994, then gave him one song (that was newly written for the 2017 movie) and some solos. A hurt/comfort ballad to Belle from the Beast could have been a great opportunity to display some character development and give the Beast another song. Hell, make it a duet.
o Also, it’s kind of unfair in my eyes that both Belle and the Beast didn’t have their own songs (own musical themes, own presence in the score) in 1991, then they were written two songs each in 1994, then both the 1994 songs were scrapped, but the Beast got a new song for 2017 and Belle didn’t. Belle having “Belle (Reprise)” and “How Does a Moment Last Forever (Reprise)/Paris of My Childhood” does not equate to having her own song. Disney, you done fucked up.
- “Beauty and the Beast”
o Emma Thompson’s voice was just so sweet. Good job.
o The orchestra in this song is insane. So much fuller than 1991.
o I cried. The dance was okay, parts of the choreography kind of didn’t fit. I liked when the movement picked up speed, but the movement became jerky where I think it should have remained fluid for the sake of the music.
o But I still cried so who cares?
o Ok, if only there was a way to combine the monumental musical masterpiece that “If I Can’t Love Her” is from 1994 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s6BiSTFRJlw) with the sweeping enveloping chorus of “Evermore” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UcsaqIsX-yk) because the chorus is the best part. You can literally forget the verses of “Evermore”, they have a pathetic note range and predictable pattern, but the chorus is so beautiful. Menken and Rice really need to mash them together and you’d have a great piece of music. I make that sound too easy, I know, but I bet I’m right in saying that they didn’t even try.
o But it was weird watching the CGI Beast sing this supposedly emotional song because it’s hard to believe the emotion coming off of something so unbelievable. For some reason, it’s easier as an audience member to accept the living furniture than it is to accept the Beast. I think it’s because the Beast was redesigned for 2017 to look more realistic, but because he’s still so outlandish set against a real human Belle as opposed to an animated human Belle, he’s just not completely reconcilable in our minds. At least the objects look like their intended objects, but we don’t really have a reference point for the Beast and he looks so out of place in live-action. His design in 1991 was based off of a buffalo, a wolf, a lion, and a ram I think (or some animals like that), and while we have all of those things separately, we don’t really have anything in the real world that looks like the Beast so it’s harder to accept him as supposed to be real (even for a movie). And CGI doesn’t move like how people and things move in the real world. The Beast’s movements are too smooth and light, you can’t really be fooled into thinking that’s real because he doesn’t even move the way animals and people move in the real world. It doesn’t help that Emma Watson is also in most scenes right next to him, basically letting us compare his movements to that of a real person. So it didn’t really feel like a performance to me because that wasn’t a real person I was watching singing “Ever More”. Also, Dan Steven’s voice was manipulated to sound more gravely and dark so it didn’t feel like I was listening to a real performance, either. But there’s not really a solution for that other than to support musical theatre and see it live, it’s usually better live, folks.
- “The Mob Song”
o Was great. That song is so musical theatre-y that I was almost sure they would cut it. I mean, it’s not like Disney was staying true to 1991 songs, they feebly replaced “Human Again”, after all.
o I like the cold-feet from Lefou. He begins to realize that Gaston is a bad guy. His character definitely gains some depth in 2017.
o Again, Audra (Madame de Garderobe) slays her solo. Fucking queen.
o I’m a little disappointed that Belle ends in white and peach rather than in blue or in yellow. Yellow would make sense, the ball gown you know, Belle’s yellow ball gown is iconic. Blue would also make sense, she’s the only one in the village who wears that particular shade of blue, it would be a sort of ‘return to your roots’ moment for her. But white with peach-colored flowers on it? Where did that come from? Maybe they’re roses, hard to tell because she was dancing, but then maybe she should have ended in red or had a dress that really looked like the white rose Maurice was imprisoned for stealing for her. The Prince gets to end in his iconic blue (worn before the curse in “Aria”, during “Beauty and the Beast” and “Something There”), why isn’t Belle wearing one of her iconic colors?
o But I still cried, so all in all, it was good.
- Belle’s Costumes
o Her blue village dress has patterns now and layers and great detail that couldn’t be achieved in the 1991, so I really enjoyed that even as her plain everyday clothes they were still interesting to look at. Rolled up sleeves, a wrinkled blouse, a patterned brocade, a multipocketed apron, a layered skirt, snaps and buttons and ties throughout. It was refreshingly intricate. But no wonder the townspeople thought bad of her! One side of her skirt is hiked up for riding horseback, but it reveals what are considered her undergarments. She’s showing off her bloomers to the whole village. I’m sure the folk there all thought that was highly improper. No other female in the film is wearing her skirt like that. That’s like something a young child might do when out roughhousing. Function over fashion didn’t extend so far as Belle hiking her skirt up on one side to the villagers.
o “Something There” dress. I’m so glad the hooded pink/red dress made it in there! That was a nice way to pay homage to the 1991 design. Plus, Emma Watson looks very good in warm colors in my opinion.
o The Ballgown: I can’t tell you how sad I was when the production photos of the gown came out and it looked, well, the way it did. But this new, lighter, simpler design had great movement for the dance sequence. Jacqueline Durran, the 2017 costume designer, payed tribute to the plentiful layers depicted in the 1991 and 1994 productions by having three distinct layers to the 2017 gown that caught the air like magic when Belle spun. Durran also modified the off-shoulder look of 1991 and 1994 by moving the straps up onto the shoulders but keep the neckline wide. It was a very functional gown for dancing and Emma Watson looked great, but it was very minimalist Belle, which kind of stuck out for me because the castle and ballroom was so ornate in its fixtures and wall paper. It was not so beautiful as some really great physical adaptations of the 1991 that I’ve seen, to be honest, but the 2017 is beautiful in its own way.
o When Belle throws the ballgown to the ground and takes off for the castle hoping to get there before the mob to warn the Beast, she’s only wearing her undergarments. She’s gone from showing people her bloomers to full on showing them her slips and underdresses. I’m beginning to think Belle has a secret dream of being a nudist.
o My god, what happened to the transformation music? That music from 1991 was perfect, why did they change it for 2017? I mean, I’m sure they had their reasons, but those reasons were not good enough for me, whatever they were. The transformation scene was seriously lacking and a third of the problem was because they pulled the reins on the music so. Also, the transformation did not happen in the rain, so the rain fireworks from 1991 didn’t happen which was sad, not to mention that the 2017 transformation took place under a roof, maybe halfway on a balcony and it really closed our visual on the scene. It made the whole thing look smaller, not a good move. And lastly, the transformation didn’t feel right timing-wise. It came too fast. It wasn’t urgent enough. It didn’t really feel like the Beast was dying. We missed the ragged breaths and rolling eyes from 1991. It was more like the Beast was just dead all of a sudden in 2017. And they cut the iconic 1991 hand drop. But the underscoring was pathetic in 2017.
o For some reason, a lot of weird and pretty short musical interludes got stuck in songs here and there, without much rhyme or reason to me. It just threw me off, but maybe that’s because I’m pretty familiar with the score.
o They should have just had Josh Groban play the Beast. I mean, Dan Steven’s face isn’t really even in the movie except at the very end and the very beginning, and when Josh Groban sings “Evermore” in the credits, it’s fucking good. Better than a studio-manipulated Dan Steven’s. Sorry Dan, you weren’t really special in this film.
o The whole score is enriched. Think of any classical Western instrument and it’s probably in the studio orchestra. The music is just so much fuller. It’s really beautiful.
- Beast’s Backstory
o Ok. So. The Beast has parents! Finally! But, his mom died young and the objects tell us that his father was abusive and while they knew the abuse was happening, they did nothing to stop it, thereby creating a young man who would turn an old lady away on a cold winter’s night and who would end up getting them all cursed. The objects blame themselves for the outcome of the Prince and they blame themselves for their cursed existence.
o So why did his mom have to die, too? Why couldn’t the dad die and the mom abuse the kid? Why is it that everyone’s moms die in Disney movies? Why do these protagonists never have both or sometimes any parents? Disney has a weird thing for partial or whole orphans. It’s almost gotten to a fetish level and it’s been going on for a while. I’m worried about you, Disney.
o But we don’t actually learn how the Beast’s mom dies, Belle’s we know was from the black plague. Do we just assume the Prince’s was the same? And what happened to his dad? His dad is dead now, how did he go?
o Also, now I’m kind of curious about the abuse the Prince endured. I figured they wouldn’t explain that in a Disney movie, but damn, I want to know.
o A thing about the curse: It cursed the Prince and the permanent staff of the castle, so why was Mr. Potts and Cogsworth’s wife (?) living in Belle’s village? Why didn’t they live in the castle or on the property? They’re family. Most servants operate as family units, so all members of the family would live in the servants’ quarters and have jobs. Chip was living in the castle. Why was Mr. Potts living elsewhere? Now I’m wondering if Mr. and Mrs. Potts were having relationship troubles when the curse got laid. Same thing goes for Cogsworth, if that woman is indeed his wife, which is made unclear in the film.
o Also, the Prince’s name is supposed to be Adam, but that is never said in 2017, so are we just not gonna let him have a real name anymore or…?
- The role of the Enchantress in 2017
o Back in 1991, the Enchantress just disappears from the story after she curses the Beast. In 1994, the Enchantress comes back onstage to lift the curse. In 2017, the Enchantress is actually living in the woods between the village and the castle. She disguises herself as a poor hag named Agatha. We actually get a shot in the very beginning of the movie of her begging for money behind Belle. Then Agatha saves Maurice’s life when Gaston tries to kill him for not giving his blessing by knocking him out and tying him to a tree, leaving him to be eaten by wolves. Agatha goes with the mob to storm the castle. When the Beast dies, she raises her hand to lift the curse after Belle admits her love. So the Enchantress is there the entire film, all the while becoming prettier and prettier from when we were introduced to her as Agatha, the village hag. It’s reminiscent of the movie Nanny McPhee in that way, in which the odd governess loses everything from moles to pounds off her figure throughout the film.
- How feminist is the new Belle?
o Well, the film barely passes the Bechdel Test, which was a test created by the cartoonist Alison Bechdel in 1985 to see how feminist a work of fiction is. The three rules are you have to have two named women characters (one) who talk to each other (two) about something other than a man (three). Three things, and in some versions, the women don’t even have to be named. Belle is named. Belle talks. Belle talks to another woman? She talks to a young girl she teaches how to read, yeah. She talks to Madame de Garderobe and Mrs. Potts, and they’re sort of women, they’re just objects right now. Belle talks to them about something other than the Beast? Uhhhhhh… No. Not really. Maybe here and there, a non-Beast line of dialogue sprinkled in every once in a while, but not really. But technically, it passes the Bechdel Test with the little girl and feebly with the objects.
o She’s very brave. I had an ‘oh shit’ moment when she comes to rescue her father and tells the Beast to step into the light. He doesn’t, so what does she do? She picks up the candelabra next to her and shines it right in his face. What a problem solver.
o Belle tricking the Beast into opening the cell door while convincing her father that she was going to leave him there and not take his place was so clever. She then embraces Maurice as a last goodbye, expertly turning him so that he is closest to the door, then whispers a promise to escape and pushes him out of the cell and slams the door, locking herself in and taking his place. It was awesome.
o I don’t think it’s a case of Stockholm syndrome like everyone likes to make fun of because she very quickly loses a lot of her prisoner status. And she criticizes the Beast like hell, always prodding at his ego. The first time the Beast makes a joke to her, she actually asks, “Really? You’re making jokes now?” Like Emma Watson has told the press, Belle does fight him all the way in the beginning, but he changes and so does she. I think it would be Stockholm if he didn’t change and she just succumbed to him, really, which doesn’t happen in 1991 or 1994 and certainly not in 2017.
o She was still very caring. She bluntly, but respectfully turned down Gaston’s proposal. She was very attentive to her father. In the cottage scene after “Belle” she walks in on him singing softly as he works on his music box. She stands back out of sight to listen and only approaches him when he’s finished, then brings him s plate of food. She’s so sweet. She’s very respectful to all the objects. So she hasn’t lost her traditional ‘femininity’ in 2017, she’s just gained some more traditional masculinity.
o Did it feel like Disney was trying too hard? I don’t know. Belle seemed just as feisty as she did in 1991 and 1994, I think she just has more content to play out in 2017. There are more opportunities for her to be brave in this version. 2017 is just different, not bad
- Over all, I cried like 20 times it was so nostalgic. It’s very comforting to have something you loved so much as a child be validated like that, to know that it’s going to live on in a new way in the hearts of children who are just like you were all those years ago.