BY IVY VELAZQUEZ
In 2014, Disney announced that Beauty and the Beast would be next in line to be made into a live action film, to be directed by Bill Condon. And then in January of 2015, after rumors circled for months, Emma Watson announced that she would be playing Belle, to which many of her fans responded with delight and excitement. And on Friday, March 17, after three years of waiting and anticipation, Beauty and the Beast was released in theaters.
A prince, as well as the other inhabitants of his castle, is cursed for his cruelty. He has until the last petal of the enchanted rose falls to fall in love with someone and for that person to love him in return. Belle (Watson) is a village girl who loves to read and dreams of adventures away from her “provincial life.” Most of the villagers believe her to be a beautiful but strange girl. Her father Maurice (Kevin Kline), who in the live action is a music box maker, is the only person who seems to love her for who she is. Gaston (Luke Evans) claims to be in love with her, though he wants to change much of who she is, and will stop at nothing to marry her.
When her father gets lost while travelling and is taken prisoner by the Beast (Dan Stevens), Belle offers to take his place. She soon discovers that the inhabitants of the Beast’s castle are definitely not ordinary. And though the Beast seems cruel and selfish in the beginning, she is soon able to discover the beauty within.
If you’ve watched the original animated version, there are many similarities between the two (besides the plot) that are immediately evident. A lot of the scenes in the live action were exactly the same as in the animated, something that seemed have gained favor with viewers. “I like that they mimic scenes from the original animated film,” said senior criminology major, Sabrina Wiecher. “It was spot on. Perfect.”
Like its animated counterpart, the live action was made into a musical, with many of the same songs from the original. However, some were taken out and substituted for songs from the Broadway musical. The Beast’s song, “Evermore”, is as heartbreaking as it is beautiful and really gives insight into how much Belle has changed him. “How Does a Moment Last Forever” is another new song that gives some insight into Maurice as well.
The movie also introduced Disney’s “first” gay character (this is put into quotations because many argue that he was clearly gay in the original), Lefou (Josh Gad), the closest person Gaston has to a real friend. There was much controversy over making Lefou gay (nevermind the fact that the whole premise of the movie involves bestiality), but he was arguably the best character to grace that screen. He was witty and shows a sense of morality that he didn’t in the animated version, as well as just being overall adorable. And that “gay scene”? Lasted all of two seconds.
The live action filled in many blanks that were left unfilled in the original animation, like what happened to Belle’s mother. There is a whole scene dedicated to this reveal. It is also explained why the villagers never questioned what happened to the prince that lived only miles away from them. This is something that was always a frustrating mystery in the animated version; it seemed strange that the villagers had no clue about the the curse or even the fact that there was in fact royalty so near to them until after the curse was broken. But the makers of the live action give a satisfying explanation to why this is.
However, as many things that were wonderful about this story, there were a few disappointments. According to senior criminology major Shelley Gress, “The size of characters Gaston and the Beast were underwhelming, removing from their ‘scary and powerful’ demeanor.” Gress was also disappointed that the songs that Emma Watson sang herself were auto tuned, saying that she felt that it would have sounded fine with her natural voice or would have even preferred her to lipsync. She also felt that Watson was playing more of her Hermione role rather than Belle.
A scene that also ended up being slightly disappointing was the iconic dance scene. The ballroom wasn’t quite to size and the dance in general was a little underwhelming. “Everything was too close together and the dance wasn’t as grand,” said Wiecher.
Despite these drawbacks, the film was definitely worth watching, one that got everyone watching singing along and jumping up and down in their seats. For opening weekend, Beauty and the Beast had an astounding box office debut of $170 million, breaking records such as the biggest box office opening in March ever.This tale may be as old as time but it certainly is one that people never get tired of and the live action definitely lives up to its legacy.
Ivy Velazquez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org