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There are good films, and then there are great films. Beauty and the Beast is a great film. I would like to begin my review by stating this film is not a remake. I hate the word remake when it comes to films because everything is adapted from another source. This is a classic musical adaptation. The rules change in this genre of film. Don’t go into this film expecting the 1991 version because you will truly miss the beauty within.
During my college years, I researched many adaptations of this story. Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve first published La Belle et la Bête (Beauty and the Beast) in 1740. Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont rewrote Beauty and the Beast and published it in 1757. There are different tales throughout literature such as Cupid and Psyche by Lucius Apuleius and the Brother’s Grimm’s The Summer and Winter Garden. All of these versions of the story are different, but all have one common theme. The theme of finding beauty within is so powerful that people continue to crave for different versions of this story. I would like to challenge everyone to read some of the folklore around Beauty and the Beast because it is truly a tale as old as time.
As a huge fan of Beauty and the Beast, I was nervous about the new adaptation. I wasn’t sure Emma Watson could pull off Belle. Luke Evans wasn’t muscular enough to be Gaston. Did Dan Stevens know how to sing? For months, I followed along as images and videos surfaced, and I started to feel better. I would like to say how wrong I was about Emma Watson. She was perfect. Belle is supposed to be an ordinary girl. She was the girl we all imagined ourselves to be when we first saw the 1991 version. Dan Stevens can sing. He also gave the Beast so much emotion that it made my stomach hurt because I could feel his pain. Luke Evans brought a whole new level of evil to Gaston, and was the size of a barge. As for the rest of the cast, I have nothing but positive feedback for Josh Gad, Kevin Kline, Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellen and Emma Thompson.
The critics whined about the added back story to this tale. I will not give away any spoilers, but the back story flushes out these characters. It gives them more life, depth and emotion. We understand the motives behind each character. There are elements from the original fairy tale that are brought to life. The rose becomes the most symbolic object throughout the film because it connects everyone together.
The musical numbers are excellent. I felt like I was watching classic musicals such as The Wizard of Oz, My Fair Lady and Singin’ in the Rain. There are a few new musical numbers such as “How Does a Moment Last Forever,” “Days in the Sun” and “Evermore.” These new numbers add more emotion and depth to the story. I bought the soundtrack a week before the film, and was concerned to how it would play in the film. Once again I was wrong because the musical numbers are grand, bold and full of magic.
Overall, I give Beauty and the Beast more than five stars. The film exceeded my expectations in every way possible, and I can’t wait to see what Disney has in store for future live action adaptations.