** SPOILER WARNING! Although this is a remake to the original 1991 cartoon version, there are some plot differences and additional character developments that I will be commenting on. Reader beware.
One thing was very clear to me almost from the start of watching Beauty and the Beast. This film was made for the Millennials and Gen Xers and their parents that grew up watching the original cartoon. This live action version went to painstaking lengths to modernize the film as well as address many of the plot issues (and straight up holes, like why it’s summer in one scene and a blizzard in the next) that only those who have seen the original cartoon 50 times would be able to recognize.
Sure, the creators of the film also new that Gen X and Millennials would be eager to share a Disney favorite with their own kids, but that’s just a revenue generating side affect from the recent ’90s throwback craze.
Here’s a few ways the new film is a bit more updated.
We learn more about Belle’s backstory
We finally get some answers as to what happened to Belle’s mom and why Belle and her father were in that awful French town to begin with. In a sweet, if not super convenient twist on the original, Beast takes Belle back to her childhood home through a magical book (a cruel gift from the Enchantress that put the spell on him).
That’s where she learns that her father had no choice but to leave Paris with Belle when she was a baby or risk her catching The Plague, which is how Belle’s mother died.
Belle is smarter and fearless
We knew from the original that Belle is a bookworm but this version takes it’s time to really show how ahead of her time she was. She gets chastised for trying to teach a little girl how to read and is punished by having her horse-pulled washing machine invention destroyed by the townspeople.
The film even made a point to show just how unique Belle’s intellect was for her time by pointing out that LaFou (Gaston’s right hand man) was illiterate and couldn’t even spell Gaston’s name.
She continually shuts down Gaston’s advances, saying she’s not ready to marry anyone, let alone a pig like him, while the other ladies in the town gasped at her reluctance to settle.
And Belle was fearless over and over again, a quality that the leading male characters couldn’t muster. She went toe to toe with the Beast, never giving in to his commands (hell no I won’t eat dinner with you!)
We learn why the Beast is, well, a Beast
In the original cartoon we are only told that the king was turned in to a Beast after turning a way an old woman in the middle of a storm. In the remake we get a bit more backstory on how the King became to be such a turd of royalty.
The Beast’s mother died while he was young, and his father raised him to be a pompous ass, thus when the time came to show kindness to the old lady seeking shelter, he said nah, and the old lady revealed herself to be an Enchantress and turned him in to a Beast.
Gaston is a whole other level of awful
I remember disliking Gaston in the original because he was cocky but I could also sense that he was uneducated, so at times I felt a little sorry for him. In this version, Gaston is much darker. Even going so far as tying Belle’s dad to a tree and leaving him for the wolves in the forest.
I’m not sure the original Gaston would have gone so far.
Yup, LeFou is gay
This was yet another way the film modernized the original. With so much chatter around this aspect of the film I was expecting there to be a major in-your-face scene revealing his sexuality. Instead, there are small references made throughout the film that could lead you to believe LeFou is gay, and finally at the end they made sure to make it crystal clear as he dances with another male townsmen. For like two seconds.
So I’m not quite sure what the fuss was about, perhaps just good press to get people talking about the film. Nonetheless, I’m certainly happy there was some diversity in this updated film.
There are two new songs to enjoy
There were two new songs that have been added to the soundtrack of Beauty and the Beast. One is sung by the Beast, Evermore, which while sung well by Dan Stevens, felt unnecessary and too long. The poor Beast, his heart just broken after letting Belle go, traipses around the castle from empty room to empty room, hanging out of windows and singing his bleeding heart out. It was a little dramatic.
The second song, Days in the Sun, is performed by most of the cast as they remember their days in the castle before they turned in to the inanimate objects under the curse. I enjoyed this one quite a bit and loved hearing a bit of how these side characters were affected by the King’s bad decision.
The plot twist that, as a mom, I was not emotionally prepared for
Turns out motherhood has made me a blubbering sack of tears when I watch movies. Even though I obviously knew how this story would end, I still found myself trying to keep from ugly crying in front of a row full of strangers because of a plot twist.
In the live action version, TECHNICALLY, the final petal of the rose falls to the ground before Belle proclaims her love for the Beast. This leads to a heartbreaking scene that shows every castle character turning in to the object they embody. When Mrs. Pots frantically searches for her son, Chip, because she knows their time is ending, I just lost it. She turns to a tea pot before Chip finds her.
Ripped. My. Heart. Out.
Luckily the Enchantress does the castle a solid and breaks the spell and they all come back to life as their original, human, selves. Phew!
Overall, I really enjoyed the modern take on this classic Disney story. As a Millennial mom, it’s equal parts strange and exciting to share something from my childhood with my own children. As the ’90s craze continues I’m sure there will be even more opportunity to have the “You know your mom used to wear slap bracelets when she was little!” conversations.
And if your little lady saw the new film and is now obsessed with all things Beauty and the Beast, then check out my post that highlights Target’s sweet apparel line inspired by the film.
Have you seen the film? What did you think?