I remember seeing the original Disney animated Beauty and the Beast as a kid, but I can’t say it was my favorite. I was more into Batman and Jurassic Park. My sister and I didn’t recite lines from it the way we did with Aladdin, but we knew all the songs, and even performed a stage version for one of our dance recitals.
On a whim one afternoon I went and saw this new Beauty and the Beast in the theater and I was surprised by how entranced I became. It was magical. People in the theater cried. Full of heart, gorgeous visuals, and a celebration of the original, Beauty and the Beast represents all the best reasons we love going to the movies. I’ve now seen it four times, along with thousands of other theater-goers, helping to make it The Highest Grossing PG Film Ever in the U.S.
Did this “tale as old as time” speak to you? Here are 7 ways Beauty and the Beast tugs at our heartstrings.
1. It was filmed to closely match the original
Experiencing deja vu? I was delighted to find the film didn’t stray far from the original animated version. The pacing, visuals and songs were nearly identical. Even though I hadn’t seen the original in more than a decade, it was like visiting an old friend and slipping into a familiar space. In fact, the trailer is a shot-by-shot remake.
Watch this side-by-side comparison:
2. Emma Watson as Belle.
Belle isn’t a princess, as she makes note in the movie. She’s the nerdy, book-worm in a town too small for an ambitious young woman of the world. A feminist of her time, Belle is played by self-proclaimed feminist Emma Watson, who has spoken on issues of feminism for the UN and elsewhere, even winning the first “genderless” acting award at the MTV Movie Awards.
3. The Visuals
Director of Photography, Tobias Schliessler, filmed on extensive practical sets built on soundstages in and around London, England. Even Belle and her father’s fictional town of Villeneuve, built on Shepperton’s largest set, is based on the real village of Conques in southern France.
The costumes, hair and makeup and set design were inspired by the original movie and by 18th century France. I noticed they used gold hues throughout the film; the gold on the ceiling that becomes a part of Belle’s classic yellow ballroom gown and to match Lumiere and Cogsworth’s metallic bodies. And who doesn’t love seeing the real life glowing rose in a svaroski crystal case?
4. John Legend and Ariana Grande
John Legend and Ariana Grande (known for her impressions of Celine Dion), tackle the classic ‘Beauty and the Beast’ song, originally performed by Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson. With 82 million views, it’s become a hit within its own right. You can view the new version and the original below.
5. Dan Stevens as the Beast
SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t seen Downton Abbey, stop reading now.
When our most beloved Downton Abbey gentleman, Matthew Crawley, died in a car crash (as a way to end his contract), leaving Lady Mary without her soulmate, we were crushed. How would we go on? Seeing Dan Stevens reach new success as the Beast almost makes up for Matthew Crawley’s death. Almost.
Apparently, I wasn’t paying attention the first time I saw the film, because I didn’t recognize him at all!
7. The Supporting Cast
What do Gandalf, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Professor Sybil Trelawney all have in common? “They can sing, they can dance, after all miss, this is France!”
Sir Ian McKellen, Ewan McGregor, Emma Thompson, Audra McDonald and Stanley Tucci play castle servants who become household objects after a curse is placed upon them. Hearing these recognizable voices adds to their roles. Seeing them in human form again at the end, in a hilarious but sentimental conclusion, will make even the coldest of hearts warm. Need a tissue? I think we all have a little something in our eyes.
The Poet has won the Audience Award for Best Horror Short at the SENE Film Festival in Providence, RI! Thank you audience!