“Beauty and The Beast,” released March 17, is a live-action remake of the 1991 Disney animated classic that tells a “Tale as Old as Time.” The remake, starring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens, brought a huge sense of joy and nostalgia to both children and adult fans with its enchanting romance and magical musical numbers.
Emma Watson plays the lead role, Belle, the small-town bookworm who sees the humanity within the Beast. Dan Stevens of “Downton Abbey” plays the role of the handsome prince imprisoned in the body of a Beast. The rest of this all-star cast includes names like Kevin Kline, Josh Gad, Emma Thompson, Ewan McGregor and Stanley Tucci.
The film opens with a scene of the Beast when he was an arrogant, ungrateful prince. He is hosting a ball when an enchantress disguised as an old beggar offers him a rose in exchange for shelter from the storm. When he refuses, she transforms him into a beast that matches his character, turns all his servants into household objects and erases him and his castle from the memories of the villagers. Then we see Belle in her small provincial town singing the Disney classic “Belle” while avoiding Gaston’s attempts to win her hand in marriage.
The plot stays true to the 1991 version with the scene of Belle’s father, Maurice, arriving at an enchanting castle. While looking for protection, he foolishly picks a rose and is captured by the Beast and held prisoner. Then Belle comes to her father’s aid and takes his place. With the help of his enchanted friends Lumière, Cogsworth and Mrs. Potts, Beast succeeds in falling in love with Belle to the point that he sets her free.
When she returns, the townspeople are on their way to kill the Beast while her and her father are trapped in a wagon bound for an asylum. This is not a problem for Belle, who unlocks the wagon and is on her way to warn the Beast within moments. The movie then takes a dark turn with the battle between Gaston and the Beast resulting in Gaston’s death. The battle leaves the Beast close to death, but when the last petal of the enchanted rose falls he is healed by Belle’s kiss and he and his servants are transformed into humans again.
Although the movie adhered to the 1991 version there was a lot more added to this expanded version. Along with the extra half hour, it offered more backstory from the Beast’s prince-hood and Belle’s childhood. The somber addition of Belle’s mother’s death made the film lack the sense of fairy-tale enchantment found in the 1991 version, but added a refreshing realistic backstory. Seeing Beast as a man in the beginning made me feel more empathetically toward the man inside the beast but also made him less scary and his transformation less effective.
The 2017 remake of “Beauty and the Beast” had a few differences from the original cartoon but was no less captivating. With its use of special effects and music, the film came across just as magical as the cartoon and left me feeling like the little girl who fell in love with Disney magic 15 years ago.