There’s no doubt about it, the Disney classics are just what they are – classics. And so is the case as well for this “Tale as Old as Time”, Beauty and the Beast. I mean, this is one of Disney’s biggest classics, so it would be harsh to give it a judgement any lower than a simple masterpiece. And just like the final touch ups given to a work of art, the remake was made in 2017, inserting yet another footstep into Disney’s Remake Lane.
The reaction to such remake, and whether these touch ups made completed the movie or ruined it is an opinion greatly discussed by the audience, with very valid points on either side. I, as many, have found that there are quite a number of faults within this broken reflection of the original. Yet as I mend my view of such reflection, I can’t help but adore it.
Sure, this movie has its sharp edges like any other, but I truly do believe that this movie wasn’t as bad as you thought. So, here’s a couple points on why the movie worked, and why it may need some improvement. Enjoy!
Wasn’t: Emma Watson’s performance
Don’t get me wrong, Emma Watson is a brilliant actress, one that will forever be engraved in my heart through the infamous Harry Potter series. However, choosing her for the role of Belle wasn’t the most magical move.
Her performance felt cold and distant compared to the original, colourful Belle, without even starting on her music performances. Try listening closely to both versions of Belle singing. In the more joyful songs like “Belle”, you can nearly hear Paige O’Hara’s cartoon Belle smiling while she sings, purely and happily. She fills you up with an overwhelming joy, and just makes you want to sing along.
Meanwhile, all the powerful emotions that allow you to immerse yourself in the French 1700s is entirely wiped out by Emma’s dull, auto tuned voice. It takes away the genuine curiosity and carefree attitude brought by the original Belle, and replaces it with a forced, distant smile. It just doesn’t have the same impact. This applies for many characters, but I can’t help feeling Belle was the character most impacted by this, and the impact sure was profound on us disappointed viewers.
Was: More Backstories
I think one of the greatest things we were missing in the original was getting to know the backstories of characters. These are crucial in establishing a character, as knowing what they went through aids the viewer in understanding their motives. It helps us understand their point of view and sympathize with them, even when their actions aren’t of the most just rationale.
And in this movie, our thirst for understanding is quenched. In the original, the only backstory we really get is at the very start, where the beast’s arrogance towards the fairy turns him into the monster we later meet. However, here we find out his arrogance and harsh demeanor is due to his father, who “shaped him to become just like him” after his mother’s death.
Also, we find out what happened to Belle’s mother, a figure mysteriously absent. However, in the movie, there’s a whole scene dedicated to Belle uncovering the truth. Beast lets her use an enchanted book that lets her travel to wherever she pleased, and she chose to visit her childhood home in Paris, where she was born. There, they discovered that her mother died due to the plague, and her father escaped with Belle before it was too late for them. This scene broke my heart, as both parents tearily looked into each other’s eyes. Knowing it was the end for the mother, he reluctantly abandoned his wife to protect their daughter upon her dying wish. It’s heart wrenching to know the pain they both went through, something that deeply aches my heart.
However, as heartbreakingly wonderful this scene may be, it does have its inaccuracies, which leads me to my next point…
Wasn’t: Historical Inaccuracies
An inaccuracy in the previously mentioned scene was that the historical times were incorrect. According to Fiction Horizon, the animated film takes place between the late 1790s and the early 1880s, and as a result so is the live action version. However, the Black Death or Plague pandemic took place from 1347 and 1351, which is at least over 400 years of difference.
It’s also true that although the pandemic was based within those four years, it never actually went away, still existing to this day. However, from the way the audible chaos in the background of the flashback, to the doctor’s outfit, and to the mother saying “Quickly, before it takes her too”, it leads me to believe that this event is set in the pandemic itself, which if true, is inaccurate to the historic timeline this movie is set in.
Was: The Rose Wilting Had a Consequence
Of course, there is a very obvious consequence in the original, that being that once the rose wilted the castle’s residents would remain in their bewitched forms forever. A clever twist the remake brought about, however, was more than a simple farewell to their real forms.
As time passed, the servants became less and less like their human selves.. As the rose’s petals fell, they grew rustier and more imprisoned within such mundane walls, slowly becoming inanimate household objects until there was no human soul left.
This major consequence adds a lot more urgency to breaking the spell, as well as showing just how selfless Beast and the servants were when allowing Belle to leave, knowing that all but one would make it out alive from such compassionate act. It doesn’t put the enchantress in very good light, though…
Wasn’t: Sometimes Feels Bland
I can’t help but feel like some of the story, despite it being more fleshed out, is quite bland in some areas. I particularly feel some characters feel bland in some ways. For example, I feel we’re missing Beast’s childlike behavior I always found so entertaining. I loved how he would try so hard to impress Belle, yet often goofing up making Belle and us viewers laugh. Here he’s more distant and, in some cases, even more mature, which I feel takes away from Beast’s original character.
Also, I’ll just say this now: I don’t like Be Our Guest in this movie. The start was okay, but as it goes on it begins to feel terribly bland and lacks that joy. I found this performance I rollercoaster from being alright to even good, to full on cringey. Particularly, I feel Belle feels so distant and just clueless about what’s going on. And when all the dishes start dancing at the end and flying… it just feels like a commercialized dance for Disney channel.
Furthermore, some of the voice acting just feels so bland. This goes back to the point I previously made about Belle, but try listening to “Be Our Guest” from 1991 and 2017. Doesn’t the voice acting sound dull in comparison? I found this particularly the case with Mrs. Potts. Try focusing on Angela Lansbury’s version (1991), and then going Emma Thompson’s version (2017). I just can’t feel the same passion, and as a result, makes it less entertaining and much more tedious to sit through and watch.
Was: Beast Got His Own Song
Something I found distasteful from the original movie was beast hardly ever got to sing. This movie is literally called “Beauty and the Beast”, yet while Beauty carries like 80% of the musical performances in the film, Beast hardly gets one verse in “Something There”. Even Gaston gets his own song, and we all know what type of person he is, so why shouldn’t Beast get his own?
Well, prayers were finally answered in the remake, where Beast sings “Evermore” as Belle rides away back to her home. Here, he expresses his emotions, from his regrets in his past choices, to his powerful love for Belle. He sings how even if she’s gone he’ll forever be in his heart. He’s changed because of her, and even if she’s gone “she’s never out of sight. Give this song a listen here. I promise you, you won’t regret it.
Conclusion: So Did It Work?
Everyone will have their arguements pro and against why this movie was thrilling or a complete piece of junk. Personally, I lean towards the former. I adored the original to pieces; the visuals, the voice acting, the story, EVERYTHING was perfect. Despite such, I genuinely loved this film from the first time I set my eyes on it, like love at first sight, if you will. I adored the added realism in this film. From the sorrowful backstories, to the more believable (and not just plain stupid) characters like Le Fou, I think it worked!
However, did it work better than the original? I’ll leave that up to you to decide. After all, there exists no perspective without two points of view!
What version do you prefer? Let me know your opinions in the comments. Until next time, toodles!