Television and Radio Criticism

Beauty and the Beast - Ayanna Cunningham

Be our guest and dive into the Beauty and the Beast live-action remake of the century. From a magical mirror to singing angry mobs, this enchanted story will have you wondering if your teapot can talk too! This is one love story that never gets old.

So I have to admit, I was thoroughly against remaking the Disney classic Beauty and the Beast in any form, especially live-action. After about 2 minutes of me snarling at the screen with my arms crossed my judgmental exterior began to melt and I knew they had got me hooked. For those of you deeply kindred to my former self, give it a chance.

The creators of this musical did a fantastic job of sticking close to the original when necessary and enhancing the story where needed. The easiest thing to spot is the modernization of the characters and their love interest. The first change is the feminization of Gaston's[Luke Evans] right-hand man Lefou [Josh Gad]. In contrast to Gaston's harsh manly personality, Lefou is much more gentle, nurturing and borderline flamboyant. The hints are subtle at first, but as the movie progresses, we realize the 2017 version of LeFou is in fact gay. Now don't expect an entire subplot revolving around LeFou and his love interest (mostly because it seems that is waiting for four Gaston to come around), but it is nice to see Disney including the gay community. What makes this change even more impactful is that LeFou is an already established character in the original movie. There wasn't just an extra character thrown in as an afterthought to appease the LGBTQIA+ community. The writers sat down and widened their view on the cartoon and allowed it to fit with a 2017 audience.

Another unexpected change to the casting is the insertion of many African American characters and their part in interracial relationships! I know what your thinking, "it's 2018, get over it," and I would totally agree if the story were set in our period. The Disney version of Beauty and the Beast was originally set in the 1800's, and for the most part, it seems that the remake was as well. The inclusion of interracial relationships and Black women in the royal court is a modern notion. This is an example of writers not hiding behind the racist tendencies of the past to perpetuate Hollywood current whitewashing.

The most refreshing part of Beauty and the Beast is the role reversal between Belle [Emma Watson] and the beast [Dan Stevens]. This story takes the traditional damsel in distress genre and turns it on its head.  Beast is stuck in a course with horrible living conditions, and it is only Belle that can save him. Throughout the movie, Belle is strong, confident and in control. She even her imprisonment is voluntary. The most striking scene comes when Beast tells Belle to leave in order to save her father. He sings a song called "Evermore" that really tugs on the heartstrings. This is the first time in the movie, and in my opinion in Disney history, that the price is seen expressing his love, and the pain that goes along with it. He is even in a tower while he sings it, you can't get more stereotypically princess than that!


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