Review: Beauty and the Beast
What happens when the last petal falls? How can the curse be broken?
Beauty and the Beast is a Disney musical fairy tale which was firstly introduced back in 1991. Since then, it has become an all-time favourite to all the spirits that never grow older. Every little girl has dreamt of the moment she would wear the iconic yellow ball gown and would waltz with her one true love. A story with so many messages, but there is one that stands out… true beauty is hidden within. External beauty fades but beautiful souls live forever. Bill Condon, the director of the film, convinced Disney to resurrect the classic fairy-tale so that we could relive its magic from new angles. Condon has always adored the film, and it was a big achievement for him to be a major part of its remaking process. He believes that this story does not only speak to children, but also to adults, and that is the main reason why anybody can relate to it. The 2017 Beauty and the Beast adaptation was an attempt to transform the 1991 fairy-tale into a modern edition, inspired from the world we are currently living in.
Once upon a time, there was a charming young prince who lived in a castle in France. On a celebration night, an unexpected visitor arrived at the castle asking for shelter from a strong storm. In exchange, she offered the prince a red rose. Repulsed by the woman’s appearance, he refused to help her. The visitor revealed her identity… she was an enchantress dressed in disguise. The prince begged for forgiveness but she could see that there was no love in his heart. His lack of humanity and emotion forced her to curse his being by transforming him into an abominable Beast. The castle was placed under a powerful spell and the servants were turned into enchanted living objects. As the years went by, the world had completely forgotten about everyone who lived in that castle. The curse would only be broken if the Beast could learn to love another and earn their love in return before the last rose petal falls. If he fails to find love, then his fate would be to live as a Beast for the rest of his life.
In the French village of Villeneuve, an endearing young woman named Belle lived with her father, Maurice, who was an aspiring artist. Gaston, a former soldier who fought in the war, wished to marry Belle as he admired her intelligence and beauty. Belle showed no interest in Gaston because of his inadequate personality and because of having no similar interests. Gaston hardly ever gave up so he continued trying to win her over. One day, Maurice headed out to a market with his dog Phellipe to sell some of his art crafts. As a gift, Belle asked her father to bring her a rose when he returns back from the trip. Maurice and Phellipe lost their direction and desperately looked for a refuge to spend the night. They were pleased to find a castle hidden in the woods, isolated from any source of human life. Maurice attempted to cut a rose from the castle’s garden…but the Beast found him…He accused him of being a thief and then locked him into a cell in the castle. Phellipe went back to the village alone, and that was when Belle realised that her dad was in danger and went to the castle to save him. She offered to take her father’s place, so the Beast imprisoned her instead. Maurice promised to come back with help and then returned to the village.
Feeling miserable, locked up in a castle and being away from her father, Belle found comfort in the welcoming arms of the enchanted living objects. The rebellious Lumiere (Ewan McGregor), the loyal Cogsworth (Ian McKellen) and the loving Mrs Potts (Emma Thompson) secretly offered her a big bedroom and served her meals whilst providing entertainment. They believed that Belle was the one to break the spell and save the Beast. Belle was curious to explore the forbidden West Wing of the castle and that is when she found the rose…the Beast found her and could not control his rage. Frightened as she was, she ran away from the castle with Phellipe and as soon as she entered into the woods, she was surrounded by a pack of aggressive wolves ready to attack. The Beast had followed her and fought the wolves to protect her but got injured. In return for saving her life, Belle took the Beast back to the castle and nursed him until his recovery. Their relationship changed spontaneously…they had the time to come closer, get to know each other and develop a friendship. They both shared a love of books so he took her to see the castle’s massive wooden library with thousands of books of all kind. She was stunned by its beauty…as the Beast saw happiness in her face he told her: ‘’ If you like it, it’s yours’’. Belle changed him…she made him believe in love again. She found his hidden soft side that he was so terrified to show…
Maurice tried to convince the people from the village that his daughter was being kept in a castle with a Beast and asked for their help to rescue her. Gaston accepted, only to prove his interest in marrying Belle. As Maurice did not accept his proposal, Gaston left him in the woods to die, but he was soon saved by a hermit. Then he went back to the village and publically condemned Gaston for his actions, but Gaston refused the accusations and paid money to send Maurice to an insane asylum. Gaston built his own army by convincing the villagers that the Beast is evil and nobody is safe. He needed their help to kill the Beast so that he could marry Belle.
Back at the castle, the Beast invited Belle for a dance in the castle’s ballroom where she wore a dreamy magical gown and looked as beautiful as ever. The Beast showed her a magic mirror he had in which he could see anything he wanted. Belle wished to see her father…he was locked in car and taken away after Gaston’s orders. Her father’s life was under threat and she had to protect him. The Beast’s love was so true that he had to set her free, but before she left, he gave her the magic mirror as a gift so that he can always be with her even if she never returned.
‘’Now I know she’ll never leave me, even as she fades from view.
She will still inspire me, be a part of everything I do’’
Her happiness meant more to him than his own so he had let her go…he missed the last opportunity of finding that special one who could break the spell and condemned his own future and life of his servants just for her. He would remain a Beast and his servants who were now enchanted living objects would turn into antiques. Deep inside his heart, he always knew that she would come back for him. But now, it did not matter if he would turn back into the prince he used to be or remained a Beast for all time, as long as he knew that he could be with her forevermore.
After rescuing her father, Belle returned to the castle to save the Beast from Gaston and the villagers. Gaston fought the Beast but he did not fight back, he had no more hope for his future as he thought he might have lost Belle forever. When he saw that Belle returned…he became stronger. He had the opportunity to kill Gaston but instead he asked him to leave. When the Beast turned his back, Gaston fatally shot him right before he fell from the castle and died.
Was Belle the one to break the curse? Was she his one true love?
When the last petal fell, Belle confessed her love…the curse was finally broken. The enchantress turned the Beast into the prince he was, the enchanted living objects into his old servants and restored the memory of all the villagers. Now the prince and Belle could celebrate their love and live a wonderful and happy life together, forever.
The characters of the story are very different from each other and they are all examples of real people. Anybody can find similarities within their personalities and can relate to them.
Gaston: Luke Evans, the talented actor who started his career in London’s West End, has a strong musical background, and with his good looks was chosen to incarnate the role of the villain of our story, Gaston. A handsome bachelor and a former soldier with a striking and narsicictic personality, impressed by Belle’s beauty and intelligence, he wanted to marry her despite her dislike towards him. Because of his good looking appearance, he thought he could achieve anything, but Belle could never be with him. His jealousy and constant worry of losing Belle could make him kill even if that one person was her one true love.
Le Fou: A character played by the hilarious Josh Gad. Due to his vivid sense of humour and his experience in Broadway, he was ideal for Le Fou’s role. Le Fou is a villager who is incredibly jolly. He is fun to be with and he is the loyal and supportive sidekick of Gaston. Le Fou is the kind of friend who always stands by your side and helps you shine. Gaston often treated him with no respect but despite that, Le Fou continued being there for him. It is also important to mention Le Fou’s homosexuality as it is visibly obvious from the first scenes we see him in the film. This was a new additional feature to the character which brings a positive vibe for embracing homosexuality and accepting people for who they really are.
Belle: Emma Watson was fortunately chosen to capture the role of Belle. We might know her as the unique Hermione from Harry Potter, but now she became a princess and isn’t she lovely! As a child, she could relate to Belle and she believes that the character’s personality has affected her in so many ways and resulted in the woman she has become today. As an actress and an activist who supports women’s rights, she has a loud voice when it comes to her beliefs. This is one of the reasons Condon chose her for the part. He wanted to find a strong, independent Belle who fights for what she believes in and has the ability to create her own future. Belle wants to see the world and she always seeks adventure. She is passionate, ambitious, brave, caring and has the imagination of a young child. Her love for books is extraordinary. There is so much life within books… through reading she believes she can travel the whole world. Belle is a true romantic and is fulfilled with hopes and dreams when it comes to love. She might be peculiar, but there is so much light in her heart.
Beast: Dan Stevens, a young actor with a magical voice and an outstanding career, was chosen for the role of the Beast. He has been involved in productions with the National Theatre, as well as performing in the West End and on Broadway. Before becoming a Beast, he used to be an arrogant, insensitive prince who had it all… Once life surprised him with a certain change, he was turned into a Beast and he was convinced that nobody could ever love him again because of his repellent appearance. The insecurities that came with spending the rest of his life alone as a Beast, made him lose all his hopes for a bright future. Living within the darkness he created for himself, he was depressed and desolate. He never thought that a young woman like Belle could fall for a ‘’Beast’’ like him, but Belle could see through his soul and was able to find the pure qualities of his lonely beating heart. She helped him re-discover his true identity and made him the person he wished to be. After years in the dark, Belle showed him the path to a life full of colours, adventures, emotions and romance. A life he believed he could never have the opportunity to live as a Beast.
Life is a short journey full of experiences and lessons to be learnt… but in the end, it is love that everyone is looking for. Finding that one person who would make you feel alive and fearless, stand by your side, and hold you tight so that nothing could ever harm you. The world is yours so do not waste your time and simply live every single moment of it. It is never too late to make a mistake, to dream, to fall in love… Live as if that last rose petal depends upon it. The rose represents life, and its petals our chances to find happiness. The petals are many but can easily fall, it only takes one petal to change your world. When the time comes and you are certain that you have found the one…never let that petal fall.
‘’Tale as old as time
True as it can be
Barely even friends
Then somebody bends
Just a little change
Small to say the least
Both a little scared
Neither one prepared
Beauty and the beast…’’