Be Our Guest: “Beauty and the Beast” (2017)

Following the current trend of Disney live-action remakes, the latest edition has now hit theaters all over the world: “Beauty and the Beast” (2017). A tale as old as time, song as old as rhyme, the film follows the all-too familiar love story of the beautiful and adventurous Belle and the cursed Beast. Set in a magical castle in the idyllic French countryside, the cast rich with quirky and lovable characters including Lumière, Cogsworth, and Mrs. Potts, present two important lessons: that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, and that everything can be solved by singing a catchy song.

The live-action remake breathes fresh life into the Disney cartoon, taking over theaters, billboard and television bulletins. Director Bill Condon (“Mr. Holmes”, “The Fifth Estate”) brings together actors Emma Watson and Dan Stevens as the beauty and the beast, respectively in this revival. The mains are joined by a star-studded series of supporting actors, including Luke Evans, Sir Ian McKellen, Ewan McGregor, Emma Thompson, Josh Gad, Audra McDonald, and Stanley Tucci. Screenwriter Stephen Chbosky (“The Perks of Being a Wallflower”) penned the film’s script, bringing the classic story with all its lovable characters and elements to life in the best way possible.

source: Disney via Digital Spy
source: Disney via Digital Spy

In my opinion, the very best thing about this live-action remake of “Beauty and the Beast” is a point many others have already brought up: the film’s fidelity to the Disney classic. The filmmakers had previously promised to stay true to the original before the release of the film, and the trailer showed promise.  “Beauty and the Beast” in its entirety does stay remarkably true to the original film. The story line follows the plot of the original film nearly perfectly, with only a few sidetracks and some added dialogue to prolong certain scenes. What more, the dialogue and the characters’ identities are perfectly visualized after their original models.

On the other hand, many were quick to argue that the 2017 remake does not add much to the original “Beauty and the Beast”. But with a live-action remake such as this one, is that really the point? Is it really the goal of this film, and similar live-action Disney remakes, to bring something new to the beloved story and characters? In my opinion, it does not. I feel live-action remakes are meant to re-tell classic stories. The new “Beauty and the Beast” serves simultaneously to revive the love of the original fans, and pass on the story to a new set of viewers. In this respect, “Beauty and the Beast” whole-heartedly succeeds due to the fact that it stays true to the story and its characters.

With the classic story come the all too familiar songs. The generation that grew up watching the original Disney animation in all probability still has songs, such as “Belle”, “Be Our Guest” or “Gaston”, stuck in their heads. For that audience, it is so heart-warming and entertaining to hear and see those songs being performed again on the silver screen. The lyrics may be sung by different voices, and Lumière might look a little shinier than in the original, but that does not take away the fun of re-discovering these catchy tunes (and of coming to the shocking realization you can still effortlessly sing along with every single one of them). Besides the familiar songs, “Beauty and the Beast” introduces a couple of new ones, such as “Days In The Sun” and “Evermore”, being instant classics. They blend in seamlessly with the original score being also the beautiful work of composer Alan Menken, who also worked on the original songs for the Disney animation.

source: Disney via Animation Magazine
source: Disney via Animation Magazine

Finally, let us talk about the talented cast bringing the story and songs to life. In short, the film is brilliantly casted (kudos to those responsible!) and beautifully acted. At the centre of the film, there is Emma Watson (“Harry Potter”, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”) as an independent, adventurous and fearless Belle, and Dan Stevens (“Downton Abbey”, “Legion”) as the tragic, physical, and often funny Beast. Both actors bring their A-game to the big screen and, just as with the rest of the cast, you really notice how much they enjoy performing these iconic roles. The playful and snarky interaction between Gaston (Luke Evans) and LeFou (Josh Gad) is hilarious, as is the friendship between Cogsworth (Sir Ian McKellen), Lumière (Ewan McGregor) and Mrs. Potts (Emma Thompson). The joy and enthusiasm with which the cast performs is the true beating heart of the film, making it all the more enjoyable to watch.

“Beauty and the Beast” is precisely what Disney live-action remakes should be: true to the original story and its’ characters, beautifully designed, brilliantly acted, incredibly entertaining, and heartwarming. It’s the perfect revival for those who grew up with the original, and the perfect introduction to the magic of Disney for a new generation.

Eden van der Moere, Class of 2017, is a literature, linguistics and theatre & media studies major from Goes, the Netherlands.

Featured image source: Disney via

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