Sunday, 2 April 2017

Film Review: Beauty and the Beast

In a slightly break from tradition, as I'm blogging my way from A to Z this month, I'm substituting my normal Silent Sunday for a decidedly chatty film review post.

After our trip to the cinema last week to see Lion, we made a return visit to see the live action version of Beauty and the Beast. My Mum (hi Mum!) had seen it the week before and assured me that I would love it, but I was a little anxious. The animated version is without a doubt my favourite Disney film so it had a lot to live up to!

Warning! Here be spoilers!

Don't say I didn't warn you!

I need to start this by saying that Belle is my princess.

I can vividly remember watching the animated film on video tape, setting up the four pouffes we had in our living room as my props (such as the edge of the fountain where Belle sings to the sheep as she looks at her book) and pretty much acting out the film as I watched it. Belle's library is the inspiration for my happy place. She was the weird girl who walked around with her nose stuck in a book; I was the weird girl who walked to and from school (and around it) with my nose stuck in a book. I can remember feeling terribly jealous of my friend who had brown hair and brown eyes and therefore looked far more like Belle than I ever would.

And then when I was starting school in a new country, with a new curriculum and (let's face it) almost a whole new language, I discovered Harry Potter and met Hermione Granger. The bookish girl from a slightly different background to her new world who loved to study and that was okay.

This film is kind of a melding of two of Young Click's heroes.

And I was worried about that. Was it going to feel like I was watching Hermione Granger running around being my all time favourite Disney princess?

It wasn't.

I like the fact that right from the very beginning it works to close up some plot holes from the original film. I'd heard that some of the characters were getting a little more backstory (I think most of the main characters come away with a little more backstory than the original) and I was concerned it was just going to be plot for plot's sake. It wasn't.

We get to see what the Prince is like before he's cursed, we learn why everyone in the castle was cursed, we learn just why Belle and her Father moved to the 'poor provincial town', we learn why no one in the village is aware of a big castle full of enchanted furniture just on the other side of the woods from them. These are all really important things!

And do you see the colours in the picture above?

The film is so vibrant that it feels like a nod back to the original film. Belle stands out against all their earth toned clothes, just as before, but it's also really bright, like watching a cartoon. I also have to admit that I spent a fair chunk of the film studying Belle's outfits and wondering how easy it would be to put together a costume like that for Halloween. Her clothes are just beautiful!

And it's really minor, but I love that they changed the bookseller. It's always bugged me that in the animated film everyone comments on how strange it is that Belle likes to read, and yet the bookseller is still in business. In this version she's borrowing books from the parish priest who has a modest collection of books, through which Belle escapes from the mundane life of the village. It was just a really minor thing at the start of the film, but I knew at that moment that this film was just made for me!

Gaston is just the guy you want to hate, even if he does look like Luke Evans. He comes across as scary twisted because he's capable of being almost kind to Belle when the villagers are picking on her, and yet he'll also happily leave someone to be eaten by wolves.

While Le Fou is more than just the bumbling sidekick. I love that he starts off fawning all over Gaston but gradually comes to question what his hero is doing. And his version of Gaston is just brilliant. I spend most of Saturday listening to the soundtrack and that was one I had to keep playing over.

Speaking of the soundtrack, all the old favourites are here, but there's some new ones as well (and some new lyrics in the old songs). Everyone does a brilliant job of the singing. Hermione Granger and Bard the Bowman can sing, guys!

And what about the Beast?

He's more of a character in this. I mean, he's obviously a character in the animated version, but he's not got a whole lot to do other than fall for Belle and gradually become more civilised. But we don't actually know much about why he was the way he was in the animated version, he was spoiled and turned an old lady away, but that's about it.

In this version we learn why he's the way he is. And it turns out that he and Belle have some things in common, and yet it (or rather their father's) caused them to go in different directions. They both have a love of books as well which gives them something to bond over.

It's lovely to see the Beast becoming more human, it's subtle too. He starts off wearing tattered clothes and then gradually starts dressing the way he does above. He and Belle take walks in the ground, she reads to him. You're watching two people become friends and discovering that despite their differences they can get along.

'Something There' is one of my favourite sequences in the original because it shows the coming together of Belle and the Beast. In this version we get the song, but instead of a montage of them hanging out and drinking porridge, we also get to watch all the sweet little moments bonding in the library and Belle learning exactly what happened to her mother.

And what about the castle staff/objects?

I wasn't too sure about them at first. Particularly Mrs Potts, she just looks so different from the Mrs Potts I'm used to. But I soon got used to them and they became the characters for me. And let's face it, they're meant to be people who have been turned into objects. that kind of explains the creepiness of the way they look.

And I love that Belle responds to them accordingly and instead of trying to figure out how they work she smashing Lumiere over the head with a stool and is prepared to attack Cogsworth with a jug!

Even though I knew how the film was going to end, I did have a moment of doubt as the last petal fell and the inhabitants all slowly became the objects they had been turning into. For a horrible moment I thought that Disney were going to completely crush me and ruin my favourite film.

But they didn't.

I wasn't sure that the original could be improved on. It turns out it could.

And I can't wait to see it again.


  1. I'll probably watch it at some point.

  2. I love the Grimm Fairy Tales, I LOVE La Belle et La Bette, the 1946 film version by Jean Cocteau. I thoroughly enjoyed the animated film and I am so looking forward to this film version. I haven't seen it yet but so want to. Great review!

    1. I'm sure you'll enjoy this version. I thought it was fantastic. :-)

  3. really liked your review. I saw this about a week ago and didn't catch the change in the bookseller, but you're right, it does make more sense. And I was also a bit nervous at the delayed transformation at the end...

    Gail Park

    Making Life an Art

    1. I'm glad I wasn't the only one who worried that things would somehow end differently in this version of the film. :-)

  4. Great review, my sister took my daughter to see it on Saturday but a have not been yet.

    1. I hope you get to see it soon. It's well worth a watch. :-)

  5. I had all the same reactions you did, and I loved that the characters were fleshed out. This is one of my new favorites (the animated version was always a favorite). I'm so happy that Disney didn't ruin my childhood.
    Doree Weller

    1. I feel the same way. I have so many happy memories of the animated version that I was scared this would somehow spoil them. Instead it felt like someone had made the film just for me (and all the other kids who grew up wanting to be Belle).


Let me know what you think. :-)