Disney’s live-action remake of its 1991 animated classic Beauty and The Beast, starring Emma Watson as a pitch-perfect Belle and Luke Evans as the cocky Gaston, is entrancing and quaint and gets you singing along with the beautiful classics.
Watching Beauty and the Beast sparked nostalgic waves of emotion. Especially if you are, like me, a big fan of the original animation. Not only was it the first animated movie I saw, but also the first time I went to the cinema. So you can imagine the amount of feels and expectations I had watching the remake of this important Disney tale.
In a world where we have become accustomed to seeing more and more remakes on the big screen (and you can expect more Disney remakes coming soon from Mulan to Cruella), a ‘reboot culture’ has been created. Accompanied by a guide book stuffed somewhere in a Hollywood producer’s office, it does feel like there is a step-by-step breakdown on how to repurpose an existing story and sell it to the audience as ‘something new’.
There has been a lot of trial and error during the past decade, and most remakes have tried to redefine itself by being darker and more mature such as the Snow White remake, Snow White and the Huntsman (2012) and Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland.
That said, until now it has felt like the sinister and similar re-imagining of our favourite fairy tales was about to reach the boiling point when a film like Beauty and The Beast graces us with something fresh: just the plain, original story.
Bill Condon’s version of Beauty and The Beast really captures what it means to create a ‘live action’ version of the animated film. From the cast, to the songs, décor, and overall flow of the film, it is at times a frame-by-frame retelling of the original.
There are a few backstories added that offer supplementary explanation; explanations as to why Belle and her father live in the small(-minded) town, and why The Beast was such a selfish and arrogant prince before he was turned. It’s just enough additional spice to satisfy the viewer because it does not dwell far from the plot and fills in a couple of story line gaps.
With the international release and reviews, you may have already heard the ‘scandal’ Disney had to endure for featuring its first ever LGBT character (and no it’s not the candle), and modern day critics scowling the idea of the film portraying Stockholm syndrome through Belle’s character warming up to the Beast. Alas, and apologies if this is a disappointment, this film simply portrays the story of two characters falling in love because they actually like each other. Screenwriters Stephen Chbosky and Evan Spiliotopoulos have done an admirable job in delivering what fans want, and you can tell this film was made with a lot of care for the original.
The digital reincarnations of The Beast and castle characters look great and along with an excellent cast of voice actors such as Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellan and Emma Thompson, the characters are brought to life in a vivid and magnificent way.
It’s everything you expect story line wise, whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing is up to you, but it’s a great film if you want to sit back, relax and enjoy a tale as old as time.
Beauty and The Beast is directed by Bill Condon and stars Emma Watson (Belle), Dan Stevens (The Beast), Luke Evans (Gaston) and Kevin Kline (Belle’s father Maurice). The film will be in South African cinemas from 14 April 2017.