‘Beauty and the Beast’ brings magic to a new generation
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The moment I heard about a live-action adaptation of “Beauty and the Beast,” I was hooked. However, my true excitement didn’t hit until I was greeted by a long, winding line of parents with eager little girls dressed in Belle’s famous yellow dress. The idea that people, young and old, were gathered to see Disney’s remake brought a smile to my face.
Admittedly, I was nervous to see how the film would turn out. As a member of a die-hard Disney family, I know every word of the original movie’s songs and dialogue. I had watched the animated version on VCR as I grew up and continued with the DVD over the years. My expectations for the live-action film were high, and I feared that a remake would ruin the magic of the original animation.
However, I can happily assure you that the 2017 “Beauty and the Beast” has only brought further magic and glamour to the film. The dramatization and theatrics added to each character and scene emphasized the qualities of the original film I grew up loving and introduced an angle like that of Broadway.
The prince (Dan Stevens), before he is turned into the Beast, was given eccentric blue eyeliner to stress the outlandish qualities of his kingdom, and Gaston (Luke Evans) was given a more serious, sinister personality, instead of the simple arrogance he delivers in the original movie. Le Fou (Josh Gad) was written to be in love with Gaston, something that was only teased in the original, which made his character even more lovable. This was a large step for Disney productions, seeing as there has never been an obviously gay character in one of their films.
Yet the most impressive character modification was that of Belle (Emma Watson). Watson, a women’s rights activist, portrayed Belle as a strong female character whose independence only fueled her success.
She not only stands up to a frightening Gaston, denying his marriage proposal, but spends her time in the village teaching young girls to read, something which was something added to the original. When Belle is taken captive by the Beast, she outsmarts the magical objects in her room and uses bed sheets, clothing, and ribbons to make a rope in order to escape. She fights off wolves, warns the Beast to control his temper, and refuses to take part in situations which make her uncomfortable.
I was deeply appreciative that several new aspects used to emphasize Belle’s strength and intelligence were woven into the storyline. It is important that as children grow up, they are exposed to female strength such as this in the movies and TV shows they see each day.
Another positive addition to the live-action adaptation was the incredible score. While the original film’s music will always have a special place in my heart, the new tracks fit in effortlessly. The music was still written by the original composer, Alan Menken, and was carried even further by the powerful singing of the Beast and Gaston specifically. I would consider the soundtrack to be a character of its own in this film, carrying the audience through scene changes and introducing emotions that some may not have expected.
Along with new music, I was surprised by additional storylines in the adaptation. Director Bill Condon incorporated tales of Belle’s childhood regarding her mother and the cause of her death. Condon also included the Beast’s childhood, mentioning the relationship between him and his strict father. This allowed for children to experience the fairytale for the first time with more background, but also for teens and adults to find something new.
Regarding new aspects of the film, Disney creators used a new form of special effects and computer-generated imagery, or CGI, to create characters like the Beast, Lumiere (Ewan McGregor), Cogsworth (Ian McKellan), Mrs. Potts (Emma Thompson), and the other castle objects in the film.
According to an interview on The Today Show, to create the Beast, Stevens acted out his parts alongside Watson, but a layer of animation was added to his face. While his eyes remained untouched, his skin was transformed to fur through technology and he walked on stilts in a muscle suit throughout the entire filming period. While this new type of technology seemed odd in the trailers, once you are immersed in the movie, it is nothing short of breathtaking.
The new adaptation of “Beauty and the Beast” brought me to tears at a record number of four separate times. After I saw it again the next day, the number only went up. The mixture of childhood nostalgia, Disney magic, strong female roles, and incredible music created a film that is well worth anyone’s time.
As if the cinematic aspects weren’t enough to convince me to see this movie over and over again, while I left the theater, I heard kids singing the main tune and saw little girls twirling in their dresses. It was clear that another generation has witnessed the beauty that only Disney can bring. Those who have already been a part of it were reminded of what it feels like to experience a bit of magic again.
Alyssa Kraus is a Copy Editor for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.