5 Reasons Why “Beauty & The Beast” Is The Best Thing Disney Has Ever Done

I should start this with a disclaimer: I love Disney. Like, I don’t just really like the movies and think Disneyland is cool, I LOVE Disney. Chances are, if Disney produces it, I will see it. I am not even sure I can help it. Is there such as thing as Disneyholics Anonymous?

With that said, I was iffy on the live action Beauty & The Beast. I mean, the original is a classic. There are lots of Cinderella stories, but there’s only one Beauty & The Beast and it’s a treasured tale. I didn’t think it was possible to love anything more than the animated version I grew up with and I really wasn’t sure I’d even like it. I love Emma Watson, I really do, but I was nervous about her tackling Belle. I was afraid she’d portray her as too earnest, a little immature. Like… Hermione. But locked in a castle? Like… Hogwarts gone bad? Anyways. The point is, I wasn’t sure if I’d regret seeing it in the theater or not, since I’m pretty much an oh-it’ll-be-at-Redbox-soon movie watching gal.

5 Reasons Beauty & The Beast Is The Best Thing Disney Has Ever Done - My Alabaster Heart

So trust me when I say: this movie is the most exquisite masterpiece that Disney has ever created and I {the hesitant theater goer} am planning on going to see it again.. this time in 3D. Here’s the top 5 reasons why. {There are a few spoiler type comments so read at your own discretion}.

1. Belle is the princess every girl needs to look up to. I’m pretty defensive of the Disney princesses. I think they get a misguided bad rep for being shallow and having impossibly perfect hair. They have qualities I’d love my daughter to possess, like courage, and empathy, and impossibly perfect hair. But Emma Watson takes Belle several steps forward. She’s witty, strong, clever, compassionate, intelligent, and brave. This new Belle doesn’t laugh off Gaston’s sexist remarks, she engages and clearly denies him. She doesn’t passively succumb to her fate in the castle, nor does she exhibit the classic signs of Stockholm Syndrome as her animated counterpart, rather she plans an escape out her window, questions the condition of the castle {because come on, talking housewares should freak anyone out}, and when she returns to help the Beast recover, it is out of compassion, not obligation. I could probably write a whole post about Belle herself, but suffice it to say, she’s a character for the ages.

5 Reasons Beauty & The Beast Is The Best Thing Disney Has Ever Done - My Alabaster Heart

2. The soundtrack is award worthy. With a fresh take on the classics like Be Our Guest and Tale As Old As Time, and the Beast’s wistful I Dreamed A Dream-esque solo, Evermore, the strong, emotive vocals and passionate score are reminiscent of Phantom and Les Mis. I can’t say enough good things about Emma Watson’s vocal performance, her voice went above musical theater and her technique was excellent — something I am often critical of in musicals. I would have gone again for the soundtrack alone {I already have it added to my music library}.

3. Despite the “gay agenda” rumors, it may be the most innocent love story written. Okay, I LOOKED HARD for the gay scene. Either it was so fleeting and disguised that I missed it or {more likely} Disney did nothing more than portray LeFou like the desperate, longing-for-love buddy that he is. It’s obvious he has some feelings for Gaston, but did we really think it was normal for a man to unrequitedly dote on another man as much as he does without some deeper affection? That bit aside, the romance between Belle and the Beast was beautiful. They have a tolerance that develops into a sweet friendship, but Belle is not swept off her feet by the softening Beast as she is in the original. Rather, when the Beast asks the line “Do you think you could be happy here?” after their dance, she responds after a pause “Can anyone truly be happy if they aren’t free?” {No more Stockholm Syndrome rumors, folks.} When she does confess her love after the epic storming of the castle, she kisses him tenderly on the forehead, and he is not revived by her kiss, but rather by the Enchantress, who comes to take away the curse. This spoke volumes to me as it came across as a phileo love rather than an eros love, a story in which the bitter, twisted Beast is saved not by a woman who loves him as a man, but by simply being loved. Of course, they do get married and live happily ever after, but that moment provides a depth to the story that I didn’t expect. Even the romance between Lumiere and Plumette lacks the sexual overtures from the original.
5 Reasons Beauty & The Beast Is The Best Thing Disney Has Ever Done - My Alabaster Heart5 Reasons Beauty & The Beast Is The Best Thing Disney Has Ever Done - My Alabaster Heart

 

4. The gaps in the original are filled in. Rather than retelling the story, Disney did an excellent job of building on what was already there, including some of the original script. A lot of the critical questions {What happened to Belle’s mother? Why did she and her father move to the village? Why was the Beast so cruel and selfish? What was up with that Enchantress anyways? How did a whole castle of people and a prince just disappear?} that we may have about the animated story {which is actually pretty decent for 60 minutes of screentime} are answered. I won’t go into too much detail, but I will say that the expansion only enriches the story and the relationship between the characters.

5. The cast brings a beautiful humanity to their characters. I’m not sure there are words to express the experience of watching iconic actors portray iconic characters in the purest form you can imagine. Belle and Maurice share a real bond, he is a strong and loving father, not the rather silly mad professor he was originally. LeFou isn’t a fool, he’s a gentle soul misguided by his affection for Gaston, who is more than an amusing cocky jerk, he is a cruel man who sugar coats his behavior by being classically charming. The housewares are more than content subservients to the Beast, they were his caretakers and friends, and that is evident in their behavior toward both him and Belle. The finale in which they all return to their human state is truly joyous, and I cried at the reunion of human Mrs. Potts and Chip. Emma Thompson is every mother when she grasps Chip tightly and exclaims “You smell so good!” And the Beast, obviously the hardest character to humanize, clearly develops from a feral, bitter, angry boy into a man who has learned to love, without the naivety his animated other portrays.

5 Reasons Beauty & The Beast Is The Best Thing Disney Has Ever Done - My Alabaster Heart

If Disney has shown me anything in this film, it’s that they still know how to craft a timeless, rich classic. If you’re hesitant to see the film because of misguided media frenzy, you are truly missing out. The costumes, the scenery, the sheer magic of the movie make it one you can’t miss on the big screen if you can help it. I am truly impressed and looking forward to a generation of girls with women like Emma Watson and Lily James portraying the princesses they will look up to.

All images owned and copyrighted by Disney. I do not own any rights to the images pictured.

My Alabaster Heart - The Top 5 Reasons You Can't Miss The New Beauty & The Beast
xoxo, B

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