My Love-Hate Relationship with a Tale as Old as Time: The New Beauty and the Beast

SPOILERS AHEAD, but haven’t we all seen the original cartoon version? You’ll be fine if you have!

first day of school
My dad and I on my first day of school with my Beauty and the Beast lunch bag (1993).

Stockholm syndrome theories aside, Beauty and the Beast has always been special to me. The original animated Disney film was released in 1991, I was only born in 1990, but that just means that I grew up with the movie as soon as I was old enough to consume media. Belle was my favourite Disney heroine which is interesting because she herself was a captive. As a little girl in the 90’s, I was a brunette who loved to read and I never really felt like I fit in. I saw Belle as an older version of myself who got to read all day, was a little head strong, and sang a bunch of fun songs.

DrUlPhl
Dream life: No beast, just reading, singing, and sheep (imagine if the sheep were dogs though).

 

Last Sunday I went to see the latest Beauty and the Beast live action film adaptation with my dad and step-mom. I was looking forward to seeing it, but hadn’t realized just how much I would enjoy the experience as an adult. I honestly got goosebumps on my arms from the nostalgic greatness almost ten different times, often as one of my favourite songs started to play. I thought that the casting was excellent and the costumes were stunning. The added backstory for both Belle and the Beast was enjoyable, although I wasn’t a huge fan of the new songs – I still didn’t mind them.

I had three funny thoughts that reminded me of my adulthood:

1. Near the end of the film, the Beast falls onto the rooftops of his castle and claws his way to temporary safety. At this point, my mind went to home-emergency-funds as roof shingles fell below and I thought, “That’s going to be an expensive roof repair!”

2. As the magical rose lost its final petal, the supporting household-object-characters fully transformed into furniture on the front steps of the castle. My thrifty mind went to, “quick, someone get them inside before they are ruined by the weather and end up unsellable for Kijiji or VarageSale!

collage 1
Dan Stevens as Matthew Crawley (left) and as the prince in Beauty and the Beast (right).

3. At the end of the film, as Belle and her prince are dancing I thought, “Matthew Crawley from Downton Abbey is playing the human version of the beast!? I wonder if he inherited the castle instead of one of his female cousins. Downton Abbey must be a prequel and they used the car accident as a cover up for his supernatural curse before sending him to France”

 

Emma Watson lived out every 90s-born-brunnette’s dream when filming the recent live action Beauty and the Beast film – I watched her in awe and with envy. As much as I love the Disney classic, I absolutely stop to wonder why we see a beast who imprisoned a
person as a suitable love interest for an

gallery_1423678302-belle.png
An anonymous DeviantArt artist submitted Disney-50 Shades illustrations to Cosmo including this Beauty and the Beast piece.

innocent woman. For reasons that I cannot entirely explain, viewers tend to be more attracted to the Beast more so than the human prince. Quinn Keany and Erin La Rosa reiterate this unexplained phenomenon by highlighting the many tweets that exist in agreeance over the who’s hotter debate – the Beast seems to always win out, especially in the cartoon version. The way that people talk about the beast online makes me think that there could be a new meaning to Beast-ieality – too far? The joke was worth it.

Another fictional film character who was non-typically attractive, kept a woman captive, and is almost universally liked is The Phantom of the Opera (Gerard butler is always handsome, but his pseudo-mutilated face was largely covered by a mask for the majority of the film). What is wrong with us? I personally believe that it is in fault of their gorgeous singing voices and the fact that the filmmakers shine light on their humanity. The stories are set up so that we pity these male leads, they’ve been wronged

Lavish-Ball-at-Beast-Castle
The very Phantom of the Opera scene at the beginning of the newest Beauty and the Beast.

in the past and are presented as sensitive. This shouldn’t excuse their captor actions, but the importance of their actions was downplayed to allow us to ignore or forget what we don’t agree with. At least in The Phantom of the Opera the leading lady recognizes that she has suitor options that are neither with an imprisoner nor a narcissistic womanizer. Can we also agree that the ball at the beginning of the new Beauty and the Beast was very Phantom of the Opera? No complaints here.

So, if you can let go of your critical thinking and get back into your childhood mindset, then you will love the new Beauty and the Beast. If you’re like me, you’ll sing every lyric in your head and fawn over the live-action-beauty-and-the-beast-belle-landcostume details. Let the movie take you back to a time when you loved nothing more than to watch your favourite VHS on your family’s tube television while sitting on your dad’s knee. It’s an old story, with questionable plotlines that will win me over every time.

Did you see the new movie? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

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