Watch out, after this there are spoilers, so go see it before you read this!
When the first trailer for “Beauty and the Beast” was released, I could not contain my excitement. Although the protagonist and I share the same first name, “The Little Mermaid” is my favorite Disney movie, and always was while growing up. My personality matches Belle almost perfectly. We both love to read, long for adventure, and care deeply for our loved ones. I loved being compared to her as a child, and her golden ballroom gown was my favorite Disney Princess dress. I saw the movie when it returned to theaters for a brief 3D engagement, and I wished I had been alive when the animated film had first been released. I love watching “Beauty and the Beast,” and often watch it with commentary, and have seen the “making of” feature of the movie multiple times. All of this background information is meant to give you an idea of how much I love “Beauty and the Beast,” and how high my expectations were for the live-action film. I went to one of the first showings at my local theater.
The prologue was beautiful, and I enjoyed being able to see the Beast’s past life, and enjoyed that we were able to learn about his spoiled and callous personality. It made the Enchantress seem much more valid in her decision to curse his conceited behavior. It also answered a few standing questions I had thought about from the animated film, such as his age when he was cursed, or whether or not he or the household objects aged under the curse. I enjoyed the creative decisions made, and the characterization shifts of the household objects.
I was originally afraid of Lefou’s shift in sexual orientation. Not because I do not think that Disney should have openly gay characters, but because new gay characters should be created. As a lesbian myself, I know it would be wonderful to have more fictional characters to compare myself to, characters that will have decidedly happy endings. I thought Lefou’s identity was not part of his villain characterization, and for this I was grateful. Lefou’s character was portrayed well by Josh Gad, although I often heard Olaf’s voice as he sang. I enjoyed the musical decisions in the film, especially with “Gaston” and “Beauty and the Beast,” although I was just a little sad that the line “Off to the cupboard with you now Chip. It’s past your bedtime. Goodnight, love,” was removed.
I love the addition of literature in the film, and that the Beast is also shown to love literature as well. Getting to know both of Belle’s parents made me happy, even though the life of Belle’s mother was cut tragically short. (Those doctor’s masks? Terrifying.) The computer generated characters were rendered well, and I enjoyed the way in which they were created for this film.
All in all, I truly enjoyed the film, and believe that the original was done justice with this re-telling of a classic story. I am glad that this generation of children will grow up with a strong and capable role model in Emma Watson, who is much like a modern Belle herself.