Beauty and The Beast Review: A Classic Brought to Life
I felt like more than a guest at the cinematic feast that was the live action Beauty and the Beast remake. With an entrée of nostalgic charm, a hearty course of rich character exploration and a sweet finish of musical numbers and intricate costumes, this film will delight even the fussiest cinemagoer.
The characters are the icons we know and love, with added backstories enriching them and making them relatable. Emma Watson was really the only choice for Belle; a strong willed and knowledge thirsty woman with unfailing courage and loyalty. She and her father Maurice, played by Kevin Kline, have an on screen chemistry that is truly loving and genuine.
Gaston, played by Luke Evans, remains as boorish and brainless as ever, with a concerning lack of understanding of the word ‘no’. His counterpart, LeFou, played by comedic Josh Gad, is quite a complex character, considering he was simply comic relief in the animated original. His name French for ‘The Fool’ takes on a new meaning as he’s not unintelligent, but smitten with Gaston, sticking by him and attempting to be his moral compass.
However, it was the modern interpretation of the Beast that stands out. Dan Stevens portrays a heartbreakingly tortured Beast who learns to love more than his many possessions, charming the room with the occasional sassy remark and surprising depth of knowledge.
The CGI efforts are remarkable, Stevens every look of anguish or love evident through the layers of digitalised fur. The other members of the castle are also brought to life with this technology, including the debonair Lumière played by Ewan McGregor, the ever so proper Mr Cogsworth played by Ian McEllen, and the adorable new interpretation of Plumette the feather duster played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw.
The castle itself is brought to life with exquisite detail. French Rococo style, described as exuberant but also very organic, was used as inspiration. It lets the castle be grand and ominous, yet surrounded by plants and flowers, which change and grow as the story evolves.
What made this tale as old as time so iconic when it first hit the silver screen was the music. They stayed faithful to the old musical numbers, putting delightful new twists on them and adding new songs into the mix, such as the Beasts passionate ballad ‘Evermore’. Be Our Guest was an extravagant showstopper, enhanced by the colour and vibrancy of technology. Celine Dion charmed us with her rendition of a new song ‘How Does a Moment Last Forever’ and Watson held her own in the iconic Belle numbers, her smooth and bold voice projecting Belle’s curiosity and independence.
An unforgettable moment of the film was the famous ballroom scene. The expansive ballroom was complete with marble floors and chandeliers when Belle emerged in that iconic yellow ball gown that swept across the floor with elegance and grace. The modern version of this Disney icon was stunning, a fusion of European style and an Indian embroidery technique called Aari work.
What made Watson’s costumes truly special was the ethical and sustainable practices used in their making. It has been a personal endeavour of Emma Watsons’ to pursue these practices with her own clothing and encourage others to do the same and this film provided the perfect platform to practice what she preaches. Her costumes not only reflected her environmental endeavours, but the fierce and feminist spirit of Belle. Watson did not wish to wear any corsets, to give Belle freedom and to project realistic beauty standards in society.
This film is not only a glorious journey filled with colour and life, but a bold social statement. The new Belle provides the youth of today with a strong and unique role model, encouraging curiosity, independence and a desire for a life that is nothing less than extraordinary. If you need a little magic in your life watch the live action Beauty and the Beast, it is something very special indeed.
Feature Image courtesy of Daily Mail Online