Disney’s 1991 animated Beauty and the Beast is a masterpiece. It was the first animated movie to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars, it’s been turned into a Broadway musical, and it’s my personal favourite animated movie of all time. It’s even in my top 20 movies. In grade 9 I acted in our High School’s production of Beauty and the Beast, so this story has always had a special place in my heart. When the movie was announced 3 years ago, I was beyond ecstatic. I am happy to say that this movie was just as wonderful and magical as I could have hoped.
We all know the story. A prince was transformed into a beast for being selfish, cruel, and unkind. All of his servants in the castle were transformed into objects, and to break the spell he must find true love. Belle is an odd girl in her small village, she doesn’t quite fit in. When her father is captured by the beast, she decides to take his place, now she may be the one to break the spell. It’s a story of Beauty and the Beast.
Like I said, we all know the story, we all know what happens, but it’s all in how it is portrayed and for the majority, it’s all done very well. Save for four major issues I had with the movie, it really is one of Disney’s best and proves why this is their best fairy tale.
First off, this is a beautiful looking movie. Everything from the production design, to the costume design, to the cinematography, it’s a very good looking movie. The castle is gorgeous and it’s evident how much work went into the production design. If this movie doesn’t at least get a nomination for production design, there is something wrong. The costumes are also incredible. The famous yellow ball dress Belle wears is just as beautiful as it is in the cartoon. Again, if it’s not nominated for best costume design something will be wrong. The look is absolutely wonderful.
The performances are all universally terrific. Emma Watson is very good as Belle. While her singing isn’t knockout, it’s still very good and not terrible. Dan Stevens is great as the beast, Josh Gad is perfect as LeFou, and all the voice work for the enchanted objects is fantastic. Luke Evans may give the best performance of the movie. He is so good as Gaston and he steals every scene he is in. He can also belt it out and has an incredible singing voice. He portrays Gaston exactly as you would hope for.
The story is of course one that we all know. The movie has a nice pace, it’s also almost 30 minutes longer than the original cartoon and they’ve added a few things. Most of the things they add are pretty good. We learn a lot more about Belle and her character. The new songs are all pretty good as well. Be Our Guest is absolutely gorgeous and while it is heavily animated, it is so colourful, wonderful and absolutely charming.
There is a scene in the middle where the Beast takes Belle to the home she was born in and you learn a bit about her mother. I don’t think the scene was really needed, the short song is probably my least favourite song of the movie and it just slows and bogs the movie down. Her character isn’t really any different because of this scene, it just acts more of a history about her family so I don’t think it was needed.
While the movie is magical and wonderful, there are a few issues the movie has. Below are my four major issues with the movie. All four are minor changes or things they did at the end of the movie, so while it’s not a major spoiler since we all know what happens, if you don’t want to hear about these changes, just skip these next four parts then come back afterwards.
Issue #1: There was a moment at the end, the very end. Belle and the Prince are dancing. She tells him to grow a beard, he replies, she says something back and then he roars. Yeah, as the prince, he roars. It’s even dumber than it sounds. Apart from it being really stupid, wasn’t being a beast a curse? Once the curse is broken why is he still able to roar? It doesn’t make sense.
Issue#2: The scene after the beast dies that depicts the enchanted objects becoming antiques is not only very confusing, it takes away from the real moment happening between Belle and the Beast. What are the rules exactly? Are they dying? Or what exactly is happening to them? Their facial features all disappear and they become regular objects, but what happened to them? Where did they go? Did they die too? What if Belle never came to the castle and the last petal fell? What happens to the beast? Does he die too? Is it like Brave where the mom completely becomes a bear and loses her humanity? I mean it’s really confusing when you think about what exactly is happening. Why not just keep it like the original where they are doomed to stay as enchanted objects for all time. That was simple. When the last petal fell and you saw their faces in the original it was impactful because you really felt their despair. Plus, it was short. Here they spend at least two full minutes on whatever is happening and it really detracts from the real drama between Belle and the Beast.
Issue #3: Another unnecessary change and a really bad change was after the scene where the Beast lets Belle go. In the original they ask why he did it and the BEAST says, “because I love her.” In this one the same question is asked, but MRS. POTTS says, “because he loves her.” This may be the worst change they make. In the original, having the beast say it himself is such a huge moment in the story. It has impact. Changing it to Mrs. Potts saying it takes away all that impact. Sure we may know it’s true, but not having the Beast himself say it was a huge mistake. He has to say it himself.
Issue #4: The enchantress that put the spell on the Beast comes back at the end to transform the beast back. Why did she have to be there? She served no purpose. She has to be present for the curse to be broken? Why? She wasn’t needed in the original because it was obvious that when the curse was broken he would change back, the enchantress didn’t need to come back and do it. The magic would do it. So having her there was useless and again, switching to show her while the real drama was happening with the Beast and Belle took away from the moment.
However, despite these issues, Beauty and the Beast is a marvellous wonder and beautiful movie. It’s another home run for Disney and I can’t wait to see their next.