After an eternity I have finally gotten around to seeing this movie and I absolutely loved it! It was visually stunning and just took my breath away. The costumes, sets and locations completely transports you to an imaginary land set in 18th century France. What I loved most about the story was how we were able to get a better inside look at the background lives of the characters. Such as the story of Belle's mother (who isn't even mentioned in the animation film), the Beast's childhood, why the servants are so loyal to their master as well as other added in material (such as new songs, the magic traveling book and the mysterious Agatha) that really made the story it's own original and not just a copy off of the 1991 movie.
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Belle & The Beast
Deep in the heart of France a selfish, young prince spends his life in frivolity, materialism and not caring about anyone around him. After he heartlessly refuses an old beggar woman's request to find shelter from the cold night, solely based on her appearance, the prince and his entire staff are placed under a powerful curse that can only be broken by the Prince's doing.
Many years later, Belle, an educated and independent young woman, tends to turn heads in her new home that she finds small and boring. While people gossip behind her back, the most eligible bachelor in town, Gaston has his hunter's eye on Belle and is determined to make her his wife. However, Belle will not be deterred by the motives of false love and prefers to spend time with her clever father, Maurice, who makes his living as an inventor and artist.
When Maurice finds himself in danger on the way home from a out of town trip, he takes refuge in a dark and foreboding castle. Soon, he realizes the castle is alive with magic and is ruled by a monstrous beast. When the beast takes Maurice captive for trying to take a rose from the garden for his daughter, Belle leaves her safe home to find her father which sets events into motion that will alter her life and the lives around her forever.
When I found out that Emma Watson was cast for the role of Belle, I was ecstatic! I believed her to absolutely perfect for the headstrong Disney princess. Yet, when the film came out I had heard numerous times that Emma seemed to bring her own modern day feminist agenda to the story; however, I didn't see that at all. She portrayed Belle exactly as Belle should have been. Intelligent and bold, but still kind and generous. Emma also brought a more emotional depth to Belle and gave her insecurities and deep rooted fears which made this Belle ever so much more real and understandable.
Oh my! Dan Stevens as the Prince/Beast! Be still my (ever still in love with Matthew Crawley) heart!!! In all seriousness, Dan nailed it as the tortured soul of a cursed prince. He created a reluctant romantic with an understated charm that could make anyone see the good man behind the beastly form. In the Broadway play the Beast has a beautiful solo "If I Can't Love Her" which I was looking forward too, but instead they wrote a new song for the Beast, "Evermore," which is so powerful and heartbreaking and yet is filled with a sense of hope that the former song lacked.
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Friends, Family and Foes
As far as the supporting cast goes, it doesn't get any better than what they chose. From Belle's loving father, Maurice, to the Beast's lively and loyal staff as well as cold hearted Gaston and zany Lefou. I believe a movie can only be as good as its cast and all characters were wonderfully portrayed with heart and soul. The castle staff provided a great deal of comic relief for the film and gave wonderful insight to the Beast's childhood and how he became so cold and selfish. They love their master dearly, but also know when to lay down the ground rules with him which is an aspect I loved in the animated version.
Maurice was a wonderful father who loved and protected his daughter and only ever wanted her to be happy. His quiet and noble strength is seen in Belle and is the type of man that the Beast needed for a father and how things may have ended differently for him. Gaston, the arrogant and brainless brute who will stop at nothing to catch Belle was both comical and cruel. There is absolutely no sympathy for him at all and his end was almost as relieving as the Beast's transformation minutes later. Gaston's loyal sidekick, Lefou was much more likeable and his hero worship of his (supposed) best friend during the battle comes to a sudden stop and good riddance to it. As far as the "Gay storyline" it was almost unnoticeable and by the time it shows up it really has no bearing on the story at all.
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|My favorite part! I started to cry!|
As with Cinderella, this movie was just a stunning masterpiece. While it may not have had a moral cornerstone like Cinderella had with its message of courage and kindness, Beauty and the Beast still tells a good and strong story. Courage over adversity, love over hate and generosity over selfishness. The strength that is found in friends, the importance of good parents and wisdom in choosing who we love. A tale as old as time which will never fade away.