It’s the modern-day live action retelling of one of my favourite childhood tales, featuring one of my favourite actors as the wonderful Belle herself, but did it live up to expectation?
The answer is quite simply – Yes.
The moment the film opened with the familiar musical introduction around the village I was hooked, a bundle of nostalgic emotion. All in all, it followed the original Disney story pretty much exactly, with a few odd exceptions, but what was truly fascinating about this version was the additional backstory of both Belle and the Beast, revealing a little more about their formative years and their families. I feel this added depth and understanding, while not deviating too far away from the common theme of romantic fairytale.
The characters in Beauty and the Beast are all so dynamic, and each and every one let their personalities shine through, from the dominance of Gaston to the instability of Maurice, to the banter between Lumiere and Cogsworth and the mothering from Mrs Potts. This film screams magic from every angle, and it’s always great to see the princess getting in on the action too, riding nobly to her father’s rescue in her puffy yellow dress.
Of course, this is a Disney musical, and so a huge part of the overall fabric of this tale is in the songs. Familiar numbers were executed perfectly, and the visuals around the “Be Our Guest” number were truly spellbinding. But it was also great to see a few new songs added to the mix, and the Beast’s solo number really succeeded at tugging at the heartstrings. Finally, this selfish and mean-spirited man has learned to love and let go, and this fills you with a sense of warmth and pride.
Of course, for me this was an emotional journey back to my younger days, but it was equally enjoyable seeing the reactions of children in the showing who I figured must be seeing it for the first time. It’s scary sitting among a generation who had yet to experience such joys, but I guess it’s as close a feeling as you’d get to watching something with your own child. Disney does cater to just about everyone, after all.
Beauty and the Beast was a fantastic picture back in the nineties, but while it’s a bold claim, I might even go as far as to say that this live-action version is even better. With relatable characters, marvelous music, a harrowing yet heartwarming plot, and a little bit of magic, why wouldn’t you want to go on this journey yourself?