Thoughts on Beauty and the Beast (2017)

Beauty and the Beast was one of three of my favourite Disney movies (after Cinderella but before Sleeping Beauty). I loved it so much that I would watch it on repeat (back in the day when you had to rewind it with a special machine) until my free time was up. Although most people relate to Belle because of their love of reading, I related to her because we simply didn’t fit in where we were.

Disney’s live action Beauty and the Beast (2017) comes 25 (almost 26) years after the release of the animation. One lucky lady born in 1991 had her dream come true when she was cast as the heroine of the beloved fairytale. Emma Watson’s Belle is a 21st Century heroine born in the wrong century and living in the wrong place: from her engineering side to her modern jewellery, contemporary shoes, and non-18th Century dresses. But most importantly, she has a kind heart.

In my post called Thoughts on Cinderella, I wrote that “no live-action film can ever replace the Disney original. We might like some things from the new ones but our classic Disney princesses will always have a place in our hearts.”

I thought the movie was magical and touching, a great companion to the animation. While the animated Belle still resonates with me more, I’m sure many girls and women will be inspired by and/or relate to Emma’s Belle.

My Thoughts & Comments (no spoilers)

  • I 99.99% loved the film. The 0.01% that I did not like had to do with some scenes or acting that I thought could have been better (read spoilers for examples).
  • Although 2D was incredible, I had a feeling that some scenes (for instance, ‘Be Our Guest’) would be even more magical if it were 3D and maybe even 3D IMAX. Hence I need to see it again.
  • The singing is superb! Who knew so many of these actors could sing?
  • One of the first things I noticed is that the casting is more diverse. Every so often, you’ll also spot an Asian background actor (and this is even more rare for films set in ‘Europe’).
  • Belle and Maurice live in a ‘little town’ called Villeneuve in France. It’s fictional and taken from the surname of the original author of La Belle et la Bête: Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve. Yes, the author is female!
    • In the animation, they live in a house outside the town. In the movie, their home is within the town on a hill. Somehow the town seems much smaller than the one in the animation.
    • When Belle runs up the hill to sing Belle (Reprise), she essentially has to run downhill (out of the town) and then uphill to be on top of another hill.
  • The animated Beast’s Castle is on top of a rocky mountain and looks a little like Neuschwanstein. As much as I loved the animated castle, I had a major architectural crush on the movie castle.
    • The staircase reminds me of the ones in the Opera Garnier
    • The castle ballroom appears to be much smaller but I think it’s to do with the ceiling height. Nevertheless, it makes the waltzing scene more intimate.
  • Chip’s bedroom is absolutely adorable!
  • I had to rewatch the cartoon to remember that there was a coat hanger and piano, both of which made it to the movie as characters.
  • We hear the instrumental version of ‘Home‘ from the B&B musical when Belle is taken to her room. I was hoping Emma would sing it but it would have been on the soundtrack.
  • Philippe the horse is white in the film. He’s brown in the animation and, like most Disney horses, was more responsive.
  • Lumiere is one of my favourite characters in the animation and I was impressed that Ewan sounded quite similar to the original.
  • Luke Evans does a good Gaston but he’s not the ‘size of a barge’ compared to the other townsfolk.
  • In my previous post about LeFou, I had doubts about turning the fool (who’s also unkind) into a gay character. I am happy to say that I’m wrong and Josh Gad’s LeFou is more loveable, smarter (certainly more than Gaston), and has a conscience. He also gets a happy ending!
  • We find out that the movie takes place during June and the cursed castle is stuck in winter.
  • Turns out Maurice is an artist but also a music box maker (so he’s still an inventor).
  • The dances in the movie are truly beautiful to watch!

The B&B dance is even more impressive when you find out that Dan Stevens danced in stilts (and a ‘hippo suit’)!

  • Although I loved Emma as Belle and Dan as Beast/Prince, I didn’t find the kissing scene a little hard to watch – maybe because Dan will forever be Matthew Crawley and it would take me a while to separate the two…
  • I loved the celebration/wedding scene at the end and found the dance very romantic (more than the kiss)!
Lessons from Beauty and the Beast
  • Beauty is found from within. It’s who you are inside that counts more than appearances.
  • Beware of the Gaston’s in the world. He may be the catch of the town but he doesn’t respect women (especially the ones who give themselves away too easily).
  • There are still places where literacy and independence in women are strongly discouraged. We must continue to advocate for education for all!
  • First comes friendship, then comes love.
  • Belle and Beast connect with their love of reading and sense of adventure. They bring out the best in each other. Find someone who is your ‘better half’.

Enjoy the movie and remember:

Be kind to one another!

For details on the cast, soundtrack, costumes, and more, read: Beauty and the Beast (2017).

Spoilers! (Don’t read this unless you’ve seen the film)

  • I felt that some scenes were a little awkward and could have been redone:
    • I felt that some lines did not sound as natural as it could have been
    • Belle doesn’t try to lift the bell jar and touch the rose?
    • The first time Beast is shot, Belle doesn’t seem to react although she does later on
    • Belle didn’t seem to be surprised by the transformation
    • The transformation was too quick and I didn’t like how the camera zoomed out halfway through.
  • Emma’s Belle asks for a rose because the rose features in her father’s paintings. Logically, however, one would have thought she’d ask for a book since books are so scarce in the town. I know Belle has to ask for a rose as it’s what character in the novel asks for (because there weren’t any that grow around their home).
    • I was expecting Maurice to find a red rose for Belle but didn’t expect white.
  • It doesn’t make sense how Villeneuve is safer compared to Paris. We know that Maurice took baby Belle from Montmartre because of the plague. It would have made more sense if they left because of war or some sort of conflict.
  • We learn that Belle’s mother was just like Belle: fearless and different. But we don’t know how or what she did. And why was it so hard for Maurice to tell Belle that the mother died because of the plague?
  • The Enchantress plays a bigger role in the movie and her appearance (or age) keeps changing. I don’t understand why she didn’t say anything to defend Maurice. You’d also think she’d have turned Gaston into a beast…
  • I thought it was interesting how some of the town inhabitants had connections with those who worked in the Castle before the curse.
  • Too bad Chip doesn’t go to the town with Belle in her handbag. 😦

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