A tale as old as time has been transformed into something new, relevant, and simply jaw dropping. From the costumes to the music and acting, every element of Jim Condon’s Beauty and the Beast enchanted the audience and made the classic just as eye catching as ever before.
Beauty and the Beast opened with the scene of the Prince’s party and his rejection of an ugly hag (Hattie Morahan) causing him to be turned to a Beast and given a rose. This rose will slowly lose its petals, and if he does not learn to love and is not loved in return, he will be a Beat forever. Soon after, Belle (played by Emma Watson) flouncing through the streets of a small village in France, each villager remarking on how odd and different she is. When arriving home, an unwanted visitor named Gaston (Luke Evans) forced himself upon Belle, implying their future marriage, however Belle rebukes him and goes about her business. Later, on his way to a merchant’s fair, Belle’s father Maurice (Kevin Kline) goes off the common path and finds himself at the Beast’s (Dan Stevens) castle. After finding that seemingly no one is home with the exception of a talking tea cup (Nathan Mack), Maurice picks a rose on his way out. The Beast sees this as stealing and locks Maurice up as a punishment. When Maurice’s horse Felipe returns hope without a rider, Belle races off to find her father. Upon finding him with the Beast, she offers herself as a replacement and the Beast accepts, casting her father away.
Belle is at first unhappy at the castle, refusing to have dinner with the Beast and being rude and stubborn. Although the Beast remains course, the other living household objects teat Belle with kindness, in particular a candleholder named Lumiere (Ewan McGregor) and Cogsworth (Ian McKellen). Lumiere and Cogsworth treat Belle to a full course meal. Despite the Beast’s wishes to keep her unfed unless she eats with him. It was here that the famous “Be Our Guest” scene took place.
After many long days in the castle and an attempt to run away, Belle and the Beast began to bond slowly but surely. Belle taught the Beast refinement, and the Beast slowly came along. Contrary to Gaston and the other men Belle had been around, the Beast was knowledgeable about books and history, providing Belle with a good discussion partner.
While Belle and the Beast’s relationship grew, Maurice feared for his daughter’s life and began telling the entire village of the Beast and attempted to rally support to save Belle. Unfortunately, Maurice was laughed at and considered crazy until Gaston offered to help Maurice look for her, hoping for Maurice to offer him Belle’s hand in marriage as repayment. Maurice, Gaston, and Gaston’s right hand man LeFou (Josh Gad) head out in search of the mysterious Beast and his castle. When Maurice cannot find the hidden path that led him to the castle, he and Gaston fight until Gaston knocks Maurice unconscious and ties him to a tree to feed the wolves, then returns to the village. LeFou pleads with Gaston to return and help Maurice, but to no avail.
In contrast to Gaston’s wishes, Maurice is rescued by an apothecary named Agathe (hattie Morahan) traveling through the forest and is taken is for shelter. The two return to the village and tell of Gaston’s treachery, but again, is viewed as crazy after LeFou’s false testimony. Maurice is taken up to head to an insane asylum.
At this time, Belle and the Beast had begun their famous dance and were enjoying their evening until Belle asks to see her father in a magic mirror. Upon seeing him fighting for his sanity, the Beast lets her go to return to her father, and all hope of their love is lost.
Back at the village, Belle shows the villagers the Beast’s existence in the magic mirror, and they are taken aback. Both Belle and her father are locked up as the villagers gather weapons to storm the Beast’s castle and kill him. Belle and her father escape, but not before the villagers are already waging war against the living household object at the Beast’s castle. Shortly, LeFou switches in favor of the Beast and together, he and the household objects cause all of the villagers except Gaston to flee. Gaston finds the Beast on a rooftop and shoots him just as Belle arrives at the scene. Belle pleas for Gaston to stop, however he does not until he has shot the Beast three more times, then falls to his death. Belle holds the Beast and professes her love just as the last petal on the Beast’s rose falls. Due to their undying love, Agathe, secretly the enchantress, transforms him and all of his household back into their human forms. The Beast and Belle fall in love, and of course, live happily ever after.
The first element of Beauty and the Beast to discuss are the costumes. Emma Watson wore an array of elegant yet simple outfits that closely resembled those in the original Disney movie, yet took into account French culture of the time. Her classic yellow dress was not off-the-shoulder as it was in the original, however its folds and sparkle were still there. My favorite costume of hers was the one in the final scene at her and the Beast’s wedding, which was a sheer long-sleeved white dress with lovely orange flowers. The village people also resembled French culture, particularly those of higher class at the Prince’s ball in the beginning scene.
The next element to discuss would be the acting. While Emma Watson is an exceptionally talented actress, it was difficult to become truly attached to the story until almost halfway through, when Belle and the Beast begin to fall in love. Prior to that, the acting by Emma Watson seems somewhat immature and unreal, Belle being portrayed as childish and fake rather than passionate and intellectual. On the other hand, Dan Stevens was consistently convincing as the Beast, truly showing his passion and anger. Luke Evans as Gaston also showed Gaston’s machismo and manliness accurately through his confidence and sarcasm. Another favorite actor of mine was Josh Gad as LeFou. LeFou was somewhat controversial in the new Beauty and the Beast because he was to be portrayed as gay. To some this was exciting, others were annoyed, and some are indifferent. Regardless of the differing opinions, Josh Gad appealed to everyone. While his character was gay, is could also be perceived as flamboyant and energetic. There was nothing to offend anyone, but LeFou was still clearly gay. While this is true, I still just thoroughly enjoyed LeFou simply because of his energy, his moral disciplines, and Josh Gad’s way of bringing a once dry character to life.
The choreography is yet another element to truly wipe away all doubts in Beauty and the Beast. Each ensemble number was filled with unique tricks and action, so meticulously placed it seemed that each and every character was a professionally trained dancer. The dancing took place in small areas, causing the numbers to have to be performed under pressure, in tight spaces, and still look good. All of these constraints were met and surpassed, wowing the audience with extreme skill.
The music is the final element to be discussed. Each song came and went, filling the audience with emotion and awe, adding the final elements of life to the scenes. Surprisingly, “Tale as Old as Time” was my favorite song, where previously it had been “Be Our Guest”. While the music was astounding, the singing fell a little short in my opinion. Emma Watson’s voice, while still hers, was clearly edited and filtered beyond belief, causing many of the songs to sound fake and mechanical. It would have been better to leave her voice alone, even if it wasn’t perfect, to make it sound more real. Dan Steven’s voice was a little better, but had the same effect. While his voice still sounded false, I loved many of the songs added to the show. It created a deeper understanding of the Beast and added a new element to it.
In conclusion, Beauty and the Beast was a very good show. Out of all of the Disney remakes, it has been my favorite and I highly recommend it to anyone interested. While it was extremely good, I give it a 3.9 due to the sense of falsity that existed throughout the movie, however it was still a very good impression of the classic.
Written by Emily Curran, staff writer