Tale as old as time: Disney soars with BEAUTY AND THE BEAST


Allison Cantrell, Staff Writer

In 1991, Walt Disney Animation Studios released Beauty and the Beast and had an instant hit on their hands. It became a classic overnight. Since then, Belle, the Beast, Chip, Lumiere, and all the other beloved characters have been a staple of Disney’s image. The live-action fantasy film of the same name wows just the same.

The live-action Beauty and the Beast comes as the most-anticipated of Disney’s re-imaginings of their classics like Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and The Jungle Book. Set for a St. Patrick’s Day release, the movie shattered ticket sale records. Outselling 2016’s Finding Dory, the film brought in an estimated $170 million in North American sales alone in its opening weekend.

Many applauded the directors for filling in major plot holes that were in the animated classic; they filled in details about Belle’s mother and the Beast’s downfall. The costumes in the film were redesigned to be more historically accurate to early eighteenth century France. Dan Stevens, who rose to fame as Matthew in the PBS Masterpiece hit Downton Abbey, voiced a CGI beast and played the prince. Emma Watson added magic to the already magical Belle, and Luke Evans gave extra machismo to the über-masculine Gaston. Josh Gad played his whimsical yet sensible sidekick LeFou.

The directors generated plenty of buzz about how the live-action characters would change from the original, but their overall character traits remained the same. However, Belle was the only woman in her village who could read and write; she was ostracized when she thought for herself, invented an early washing machine, and attempted to teach young girls in her village to read and write for themselves. This time, the Beast has a solo song in the movie that would pull at anyone’s heartstrings. He is also given a bigger backstory that fills in various plot holes from the original musical. Belle’s father is not a crazy inventor this time, but rather a trinket creator who is intelligent and caring.

The film opens just as the original did, with the Prince being cursed. It then pans to Belle in her village. When Belle’s father, Maurice, leaves to travel to an inventor’s convention out of town, he is blocked from his path after lightening strikes a tree. He then follows the path that would lead him to the Beast’s castle. He makes himself at home and then is discovered by the Beast where he is then imprisoned. Belle then follows Phillipe to her father in the castle, where they make the deal to release Maurice in exchange for Belle. The original series of events then follow to the ball, where the Beast releases Belle so she can go care for her father. Both Maurice and Belle are thrown into the padded wagon for the asylum, but their ingenuity is enough to help them escape in time to stop the angry mob from killing the Beast. Gaston and the Beast have their battle and Belle professes her love for the Beast seemingly too late.

Along with a computer-generated Beast, the household characters also received a makeover. They fit in with eighteenth-century French decor and look impossibly real. Belle’s dress was also made to be true-to-the-times than the animated one had. The CGI added extra magic to the story that the original simply could not add; it gave a new awe to the beautiful film.

Overall, this is the best project that Disney has released in a long time. It is rare that a Disney movie would leave me in awe and wishing to jump into the story and experience it for myself. The movie is most definitely worth paying movie theater prices to experience the Disney magic on the big screen.