I finally went to see the live-action of Beauty and the Beast. Now, if anyone knows anything about me it’s that a) I love Disney, and Beauty and the Beast is my all-time favourite fairy tale; and b) I am actually not a huge fan of all these remakes of my childhood dreams. Can you not just leave my princesses in their glorious animated perfection? But, Beauty and the Beast may have finally been the one to sway me.
I haven’t jumped on the fairy tale live-action bandwagon for several reasons. First, I just find it harder to connect with. The way the costuming and make up is done most times, while beautiful, is extremely exaggerated and makes it look like a bunch of adults running around and just play acting. It looks less real than animation, and that for me loses some of the magic, and therefor connection.
They also try to revamp the stories, which, for nostalgic purposes, is simply unacceptable. I don’t want to think of Maleficent as being misunderstood and kind. Her name legitimately means evil. She’s pure evil. Don’t try to change that.
The live-action of Cinderella did a better job, but I’ve never been as attached to Cinderella the way I am to some of the other fairy tales (like Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty, and The Little Mermaid).
So, when I heard Beauty and the Beast would be getting a live-action makeover, I was extremely nervous. How much was my childhood about to be destroyed?
Well, I’m glad (and so so so relieved) to say that they actually did a pretty good job. They kept the original story for the most part, only deviating a little and giving some more backstory, but they made it line up with the original and so it worked (which I think has been the downfall in the past). It was beautiful to watch, and the more I think about it, the happier it makes me. Rather than be overtly exaggerated, the costuming fit with the courtier dress of the time, so that was more believable as well.
They kept all the original songs, save for “Gaston (Reprise)” from the original and “Human Again” from the Platinum Edition of the movie, and the few changes they made to the original songs were funny and worked (I’m thinking particularly of LeFou’s line about him being illiterate during the song “Gaston”). They added in new songs, which were beautiful and done by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, so they fit with the story. The new song “Days in the Sun” was like a slower, more emotional “Human Again” so I can understand why they wouldn’t include that song. They even got Celine Dion in on the project, in true Beauty and the Beast fashion.
There were even things that characters said that were direct word-for-word matching with the script of the original (yes, that is how much I know Beauty and the Beast, that I can remember exact dialogue from even the smallest scenes).
I am most pleased to say that I have finally found a live-action that I can accept and enjoy. I even want to watch it again. It was an homage to the original, and it was beautiful. After all, it’s a tale as old as time – you can’t change that. Now, let’s hope they take the cues from this live-action and carry them over to the remake of Aladdin and all the rest to come.