Warning: I’m going to try and avoid too many spoilers, but there may be some.
This film follows the original very closely. You can hear many of your favorite lines (except the Baroque pun, which I was a little upset about) delivered slightly differently, and at times not in the same order or by the same characters. Which was to be expected because they are taking a master piece in attempts to give the audiences that grew up watching the film something fresh, and making it their own. Even some of the songs have different verses and choruses than what I was used to, but I enjoyed it because it kept me on my toes.
One of the reasons I was so excited to see this movie was the fact that it was going to stay true to the style and time period of the original, which is set in late 18th century France. When you first see the Prince dancing in his ballroom the night that the Enchantress comes, the guests are in the Rococo/Marie Antoinette fashion. In fact, I was impressed that the makeup that the guests wore is very accurate to the makeup that the aristocrats would have worn during that time: big white powdered wigs, white powdered faces, red lips… It was a bit much, at first, but it is suppose to reflect the time period that this movie takes place.
Attitudes towards women were reflected as well. For example, in the scene where Belle is teaching a girl to read, many disapproving townspeople decide to put a stop to it. In the scene that follows, Gaston tells Belle that spinsters in the town eventually become beggars when their fathers die, but marrying him meant she would have financial security. Belle still refuses him. However, not everyone carried that negativity towards Belle (her father and the librarian). Not only did Emma Watson’s Belle like reading, she was inventive and headstrong. Belle knows what tools her father will need, before he knows it. When Gaston bombards her with marriage, she tells him no. When Beast demands that she join him for dinner, she says, “And I told you NO!” I’m not saying Page O’Hara’s version wasn’t brilliant, because she was. However, Watson’s was not sweet about it. She even blatantly tells Gaston she is not interested in ANY of the men in the town, and tells him he will not be joining her for dinner when he invites himself.
The only critique I really have of this version of Belle is that I wish she had been more inventive. Maurice was more of an artist, who seemed to build trinkets for money. Which put a more romantic spin on him. I just wish she had done more than know what tools her father would need and built a washing machine.
Beast was more intelligent in this one. In the original, he just comes off as an angry, brooding character whose heart is warmed by Belle’s compassion. In the extended version, Belle finishes reading Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet to him. She tells him she wants him to read it to her and he says he can read “a little” and that it had been “so long”. However, in the live-action version, when she mentions Romeo and Juliet, he scoffs. He says he had an “expensive” education (he was a Prince) and that there were better things to read. Later, in the library she asks if he had read all the books and he responds, “Not all of them. Some of them are in Greek.” To me, this makes more sense than Beast being uneducated.
Many characters from the original had bigger parts in this version. For example, Maurice and Belle have a much closer father-daughter relationship than in the cartoon. Plumette, the feather duster, is much more involved than just the couple of times she’s seen flirting with Lumiere. The townspeople are also more involved in the film than just singing choruses for Gaston. Overall: if you want to swim in nostalgia, and be enchanted while you do so, then I suggest you see this movie. Of course, nothing will ever replace the original 1992 film for me, but this kept me entertained with the familiar songs, some new numbers, new and old characters, and new attitudes.
Overall: if you want to swim in nostalgia, and be enchanted while you do so, then I suggest you see this movie. Of course, nothing will ever replace the original 1992 film for me, but this kept me entertained with the familiar songs, some new numbers, new and old characters, and new attitudes.