“Beauty and the Beast” review: a refreshing take on a classic tale


Gauri Kaushik

Complete with nostalgic singing, dancing and similar iconic scenes and costumes, Disney’s live-action remake of their 1991 classic Beauty and the Beast shows that the 18th century French story of the beautiful small-town girl and a cursed prince is truly a tale as old as time. The new movie stays true to the original plot, while adding its own twist. Each actor brings a unique and refreshing change to Disney’s classic characters, and director Bill Condon brings the classic story to life through new songs and added details.

The original Belle was loved for her disparity from other Disney princesses, preferring books to ballgowns and inventing creative ideas to get out of chores rather than spending her time dreaming of a prince, and Emma Watson’s portrayal emphasizes her intelligence and courage. Luke Evans’ Gaston makes the narcissistic character even more despicable, creating a hateful villain, and Dan Stevens’ minotaur-like Beast is a terrifying yet lovable character, who can both fight off a wolf pack and recite Shakespeare.

Condon delves into the backstory of both Belle and the prince, exploring the deaths of both their mothers, while the original movie never explains this similarity in their childhoods. This allows the movie to differ from the animated version, going more in-depth and giving explanations as to how Belle and the Beast turned out the way they did.

The setting, props and soundtrack of the movie were as one can expect for a $310 million budget: extravagant costumes, chandeliers of glittering gold and detailed sets. The costumes were identical to the original, with Belle’s yellow ball gown and blue dress and Gaston’s red suit bringing the classic characters to life.

One of the negatives of converting an animated film into live-action is that the plot gaps that are forgivable in the animated version are made glaringly obvious. With cartoon-like characters moving around the screen it’s easy to forgive the disparities, but when it’s real actors and animals on screen, audiences are forced to question how Belle’s father made it home without a horse, or how the same horse stood in the snow for days, patiently waiting for Belle to escape.

For an 18th century French countryside setting, the movie has as diverse a cast as it can have, but Disney’s attempt to do good by having Josh Gad’s Lefou be their first openly gay character was scarred by their stereotypical representation. Lefou became entirely defined by the comical potential of his sexuality, rather than having his sexual orientation as one aspect of his character. Instead of his place as Gaston’s bumbling sidekick, Lefou’s questioning sexuality was overly emphasized through not-so-subtle jokes and actions.

Although it had its flaws, the overwhelming majority of the movie was a mixture of nostalgic emotions for the viewer. It stays true to the classic tale, while adding its own twist that sets it aside from the original. The exceptional acting, directing, sets and costumes allowed the viewer to be able to look past the other details and enjoy the movie.