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If you haven’t seen this movie yet, turn back now. This post contains spoilers!!! (Pulls piano out of pocket Dun dun dun dun!)
(Pictured: Not me.)
It’s been a month but I must say that I am still intrigued by the live action adaptation of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (known as BATB on Tumblr). The more I think about it, the more I realize how clever this version is. Let me start by saying that I am definitely a fan of the original 1991 classic. It’s my family’s 2nd favorite Disney movie that we still quote to this day. In fact, we bought our tickets early and saw the film together. I couldn’t contain my excitement as the day got closer. But a few thoughts plagued the back of my mind. Namely “Pls don’t mess up the songs.” “Don’t ruin the characters.” “Don’t change the story too much.” “Pls keep it pure like the Cinderella adaptation.” I’ll admit that I initially wasn’t too keen on Emma Watson’s casting as Belle. It’s not that I doubted her acting chops, it just that she didn’t seem like “Belle” to me. (Silly, I know, but this is the only way to explain it. :P) Also, I didn’t like the Beast’s design. He didn’t look ‘real’ enough for me (you know what I mean). I kept telling myself that I had only seen trailers and that I would need to see the movie as a whole to get a clear picture. Disney wouldn’t ruin one of their classics. It had to be great.
I was right. This movie blew me away. Let me tell you why. This live action adaptation cleverly takes elements from the original 1991 classic and reworks them into an even more chilling story. The moral of this tale is to not judge a book by its cover. Of course, we know that Gaston was a misogynistic, arrogant (favorite colorful word). I knew these things going into the theater. But 2017 Gaston hides this which is what makes him seem more sinister than this animated counterpart. Not only does 2017 Gaston use manners while going through the village, his physically abusive nature towards Lefou is absent. In fact, the two appear to be best friends rather than man and errand boy.
(I’m 100% sure that Gaston wore this as a sleep shirt)
As the movie progresses, I notice how the titular “Beauty and the Beast” not only applies to Belle and Beast (or Adam according to the internet) but to Lefou and Gaston… Hear me out. Belle takes her father’s place in the Beast’s dungeon and becomes his prisoner. After he saves her life, she saves his when the wolves who tried to kill her overpower him. It is through his physical healing process that they form a mutual respect for each other that gradually turns into love.
On the other hand, Lefou faithfully follows Gaston and actually has a crush on him in this version. While the two appear to be bros, their relationship is not a healthy one. LeFou’s blind loyalty to Gaston puts him in compromising situations in which Gaston can manipulate him. After Maurice refuses to give Belle’s hand to Gaston, he leaves Maurice to die in the woods. Maurice survives and accuses Gaston of murder at the tavern. A menacing stare from Gaston causes LeFou to unwillingly lie for Gaston. Initially the prisoner, Belle is free to go after Beast’s change of heart. But LeFou is confident in his friendship with Gaston and feels obligated to stay out of fear. His admiration for everyone’s hero gradually turns into disgust. In fact, 2017 LeFou dejectedly sings that they are hunting the wrong beast during the “Mob Song” scene. At this point in the film, Gaston has fully unleashed his true colors and his rage prevents him from thinking rationally. He has Maurice and Belle locked up and threatens to do the same to LeFou if he questions him again. Earlier in the film, LeFou is able to talk sense into Gaston. Not anymore. Injured during the raid on the castle, LeFou calls for Gaston’s help to which Gaston tells him that he’s on his own. It is then that LeFou accepts that Gaston is not his friend and that he needs to move on.
(LeFou everytime Gaston does something morally compromising.)
In the final scene of the film, the titular “Beauty and the Beast” theme song plays. Belle, Beast (now human), and the rest of the cast happily dance on the ballroom floor. In a clever piece of editing, LeFou switches partners and ends up with Stanley just as Madame Garderobe beautifully sings the line “Beauty and the Beast”. Belle is free and her Beast has transformed. LeFou is free and his beast is no more.
I love Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Although there were changes made, it still has a fairy tale feel. Love transformed one beast and envy created the other. The story was strong and the songs were nicely executed. Even the new songs fit the narrative perfectly (Evermore is still on repeat). Like most Disney films, audiences can enjoy BATB at face value or dig deeper to explore the themes presented throughout. I do believe that this film will be a topic of discussion for years to come. Thanks, Disney. ❤