Review: Beauty and the Beast
Director: Bill Condon
By Holly Ferguson
Finally, the long awaited and much anticipated Beauty and the Beast has hit our screens! The hype for this film after years of yearning and lusting for it has built expectations to extraordinary heights. However, I’m not quite sure these expectations were met…
From the moment the film opens your eyes are indulged with beautiful scenery, marvelous costumes and seamless cinematography. Everything you would expect from a high budget Disney film.
The attention to detail itself is astounding and deserves to be acknowledged. The enchanted forest that surrounds the Beast’s castle features real trees, hedges and a frozen lake all of which took 15 weeks to complete!
Disney has made it apparent that they are breaking their own boundaries for the first time with this film, with its first gay character and first interracial kiss.
I applaud them for taking these steps, albeit they are minuscule steps compared to the progress made by the rest of the film industry.
The true success of this film is how racially diverse the extra cast is, which is made apparent within the first minutes with the narrator saying how the Prince (prior to his Beast form) filled the castle with the most beautiful people. This then cuts to a shot of a ballroom full of a very diverse crowd. This continues to Belle’s village where the villagers are all of different ethnicities too.
Again, this ‘ground-breaking’ move for Disney is undercut by the fact that only two actors (out of twelve) of their core cast are people of colour. *big sigh*
Aside from its contradictions, the film does certainly have some high points. The soundtrack is outstanding and makes you want to sing along; Emma Watson’s humble singing abilities are truthful and make the character of Belle more realistic.
In the song ‘Belle’ there’s clear visual lifted from the Sound of Music; with Belle on a hill singing about how she is an outsider in her village (like Maria and her convent), wearing a similar apron to Maria whilst surrounded by a vast landscape and flowers.
The visual similarities do not stop there! In the Be Our Guest number Lumière wears a napkin and dances in a very similar style to Chris Lilley as Mr G in Summer Heights High. (I don’t have a reference photo from Beauty and the Beast to compare this with so you’ll just have to see for yourself.)
The animations were a highlight for me; they never looked out of place in their realism setting but still kept true to their cartoonish characteristics.
One thing that struck me unexpectedly was the darker content of the film. There are some quite serious moments, which I’m not sure how comprehendible kids will find.
I believe a considerable amount of the film’s content, especially the comedic moments, is better suited to an older audience. Combined with the running time (2hrs and 9 minutes) and the material, I doubt many children under the age of 7 will able to sit through the entire thing, at least without wondering off at some point to bother their parents.
Overall this is a film I’d recommend seeing if you’re a Disney fan or loved the original film, however I won’t be rushing back to re-watch it anytime soon.