When Disney announced back in 2015 that they were going to do a remake of Beauty and the Beast and that Emma Watson would take centre stage as Belle there was both feeling of joy and anticipation. Would the remake live up to the 1991 original which I had spent my childhood watching and loving? Was Emma Watson the right woman to take on the role of Belle? (Although there was never really any doubt that of course she would be)
Emma Watson as Belle and Dan Stevens as the Beast. Photo credit: Media Stinger
Above all I was mostly interested to see how Watson would make the role her own and whether she would attempt to break the mould of the stereotypical Disney Princess, something the company have come under fire for many a time, with the women always waiting around for their Prince Charming or being left to do the chores, and letting their beauty do the talking for them. Given her 2014 UN speech on feminism, her HeForShe campaign and has discussed feminism in multiple interviews, it was unsurprising that in the remake of the film Belle was a force to be reckoned with. She was not dependent on males and she was not viewed from the male gaze – and this was heavily influenced by Watson. It was she who asked for Belle’s ballet flats to be swapped to boots and got the costume department to scrap the corset.
Alongside the costume Watson had influence over parts of the plot too, being responsible for the change in Belle’s job from her father’s assistant to an inventor herself. Other than this the plot of the live action remake did not stray too far from the original, besides a scene in Paris to give the story of Belle and her father more context. The scene was touching albeit slightly random.
The highlight of the film, as with the original, was the music. The soundtrack is excellent and the singing from the all star cast which includes Emma Thompson as Mrs Potts, Dan Stevens as the Beast and Luke Evans as Gaston is surprisingly good – particularly from Luke Evans (not such a surprise as most of the Welsh population seem to be pretty good at belting out a tune). In fact his acting as Gaston is one of the highlights of the film, he plays the role of villain brilliantly whilst also bringing in humour, something his sidekick Josh Gaud as LeFou also excels at.
Luke Evans as Gaston (left) and Josh Gaud as LeFou. Photo credit: Pintrest
As with Disney’s previous live action remake of The Jungle Book, the CGI and special effects are wonderful, bringing the household objects to life, and this combined with the voices of famous faces such as Ewan McGregor as Lumiere and Ian McKellen as Cogsworth, makes for excellent characters who make the film so joyous, as the with the original back in the nineties.
Overall the film was heart warming, funny and nostalgic with a modern twist. Despite some critics arguing that despite Watson’s best efforts it can not be described as ‘feminist’ due to the plot demonstrating Stockholm Syndrome when Belle falls in love with her the Beast as her captor and despite her having a job, as an inventor she invents a washing machine therefore arguably suggesting that doing the washing is women’s work. However the film definitely makes steps towards equality in Disney films and shows that not all Princesses sit around waiting to be saved. Endearing from beginning to end, the live action remake of Beauty and the Beast is great for taking you back to your childhood with the updated elements keeping you very much in the present.