Emma Watson is a star. “Beauty and the Beast” may be flawed in its excess and is more touching and human than the animated original. Emma Watson is radiant, beautiful, and inspired. This live-action reinvention of “Beauty and the Beast” remains the “tale as old as time”.
Watson’s Belle is rescued from killer wolves by the brave Beast played by the tormented and noble Dan Stevens, but he is wounded and bleeding from the attack. He fights with great strength and rage. The Beast unexpectedly sacrifices for Belle and lies on the ground of the wintry forest. Belle turns about to leave and escape her imprisonment. Gentleness melts her visage as she turns back to rescue him in return. “Beauty and the Beast” enrolled me then.
The wondrous souls of Watson and Stevens reinvent “Beauty and the Beast”. Through astounding make-up and CGI effects, Steven’s Beast is the towering horned majestic lion. His Beast embodies both joy and suffering in his gentle blue eyes. Stevens accomplishes the nearly impossible. He is a handsome man, and his Beast becomes beautiful as he allows us to see his soul and forsaken dreams. Watson is a natural beauty with freckles on her nose. Her Belle’s innocence discovers the truth in others, be it the Beast or the ghastly Gaston. Watson and Stevens are beautifully sublime.
With the largely familiar story-line and great songs by Alan Menken and Hal Ashman of the original 1991 animated movie, Director Bill Condon’s recreation is about loss, destiny, and falling in love. His spectacular vision creates the haunting images of the wintry forest and the Beast’s austere castle. This is a musical, and Condon wonderfully orchestrates the song and dance. He does homage to “The Sound of Music” with Belle singing on the hills of her village.
Watson and Stevens make us believe in Belle and Beast’s love story. There may be one too many dance numbers or introspective character musical solos. Fortunately, they are not too distracting. Screenwriters Stephen Chbosky and Evan Spiliotopoulos invent the poignant back stories of Belle’s and the Beast’s deceased Mothers humanizing this fairy tale. This is a timeless tale of true love and forgiveness.
The story opens as the narcissist Prince, played by believable Stevens, callously dismisses the gifted rose from an old woman visiting his castle. This was his test. The old woman reveals herself as the Enchantress, played by stunning Hattie Morahan. She casts a spell upon the Prince transforming him into the Beast and his servants into living furniture. He shall remain the Beast until he can fall in love with someone, who loves him back. The Prince must do so before all the petals on the rose fall; otherwise, the curse is forever.
Belle’s opening song expresses her uniqueness. She is the independent spirit, who loves books, and has great dreams. They do not include braggart Gaston played by talented Luke Evans, who wants to marry Belle. She tells him, “I will never marry you.” Belle cares for her watchmaker Father Maurice played by kind Kevin Kline. Belle’s Mother died years ago and she was Maurice’s love story. He tells Belle of her Mom, “Your Mother was fearless.” Belle is like her.
One night Maurice becomes lost and trespasses the Beast’s castle. Beast imprisons him until Belle bravely takes her Father’s place. Beast’s servants wonder if Belle is the one, who will break the wicked spell?
As enemies, Belle and the Beast aren’t so different. They both love Shakespeare. The Beast reads “Guinevere and Lancelot”, which Belle labels, “Still a romance.” He too is a dreamer who loves books. He shares his vast library with Belle.
Belle discovers the servants’ loyalty to the Beast. The young prince was very much like his loving Mother. After she died, his Father’s cruelty hardened his extraordinary spirit. Belle begins to see his noble wounded heart. The Beast doubts she will end his curse, telling his servants, “Look at me!” I know that resolve. He too is falling in love with Belle.
Condon’s ballroom dance with the Beast and Belle in a golden gown is nostalgic, new, and touching. Emma Thompson as the teapot Mrs. Potts beautifully sings the theme, “Beauty and the Beast”. Beast frees Belle when tragedy arises. She promises to come back. Candelabra Lumiere, voiced by Ewan McGregor, asks Beast about the spell and Belle. He says, “I let her go.” Mr. Potts says, “Because he loves her.”
The miscalculation of the movie is villain Gaston. He is the arrogant stupid narcissist without nuance. We cheer for Belle and Beast against Gaston, often because nothing redeems him. Belle and Beast emerge as heroes in this conflict. Hearing Beast say to Belle “You came back.”— is so touching.
“Beauty and the Beast” has a wonderful human quality and spirit. It reminds of the old and recreates as new. Emma Watson is amazing in this “tale as old as time”. Take a chance on “Beauty and the Beast”.
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