Nearly twenty-six years ago, I saw Beauty and the Beast for the first time. I was two and a half, and though I don’t remember how I felt watching it then (besides being scared of the Beast when he finds Maurice in his castle), I do remember watching it many times afterward. I loved the music, and would sing along, pretending I was Belle. Belle was always my favourite growing up because she was a brunette and loved books, so I could relate to her.
When I found out that they were making a live-action version of Beauty and the Beast, I was excited, but a bit hesitant, wondering what they would do to ruin a story I have loved so much for nearly all my life. A couple of weeks ago, my husband Christopher and I went to see it, and all of my expectations were blown away.
The cinematography was breathtaking, the music moving, and the characters were more vivid than ever before. I felt giddy while they sang the opening number “Belle” and had to exercise so much self-control not to sing along (though I did mouth the words to all of the original songs), and was overwhelmed during the reprise of “Belle” when she is in the field, which to be honest has always been my favourite part and always made me cry. The swell of the music is just too beautiful.
Because of the extensive character development, especially with Belle and the Beast, I was able to have even more sympathy for the characters, and enjoy the movie even more, which led to more tears, even when I knew what was going to happen. I also loved the addition of the new songs (and Christopher and I were so happy they didn’t include “Human Again”), and how it made the movie feel even more like a musical than the original.
And finally, let’s talk about the casting. I feel like the casting director deserves so much credit for this movie, especially in regards to LeFou. Josh Gad definitely stole a lot of the spotlight throughout the movie. I also understand now why all the girls were obsessed with Gaston (because I may or may not be one of those girls now). Luke Evans brought the charm that I could never see in the original character. And of course I adored Emma Watson as Belle and Dan Stevens as the Beast — it was like Harry Potter and Downton Abbey had a baby and added some music, and it was amazing.
While I came away from with that perfect “feel-good-movie” feeling, wanting to clap at the end, I did have one issue. Not hearing Angela Lansbury sing the title tune just isn’t right. In fact, on the drive home, Chris and I listened to the original just so we could be reminded of how much we love it.
So, please, do yourself a favour and go see Beauty and the Beast. But when you do, remember that it’s a completely new story. Though there are definitely many similarities, I think it’s the differences that make it so amazing. Put away your expectations, your preconceived ideas, and just enjoy a story told well.
Have you seen the new Beauty and the Beast yet? What did you think?