This was one of the most anticipated movies of the year: the new live action version of the beloved Walt Disney film, Beauty and the Beast, directed by American filmmaker Bill Condon, was released in theatres in France on the 22nd of March. It is a beautiful musical which will appeal above all to children but also to their parents.
Belle and her legendary yellow princess dress are finally back on the wide screens but, this time, it is not an animated film but a live action movie. In Bill Condon’s version, Emma Watson, who is famous for having incarnated Hermione in the Harry Potter saga, plays the lovely Belle and Dan Stevens, who starred in the British TV show Downton Abbey, wears the costume of the scary Beast.
The plot is still the same: an old man called Maurice picks a rose for his daughter Belle. Unfortunately, this flower belongs to a prince who was changed by a witch into a terrible beast and who holds the elder prisoner to punish him for his theft. In order to save her father, Belle decides to take his place. And, the only way for the prince to cast the curse off is, actually, to find true love. Yet, even if the stories are alike, this new movie is very different from the darker and more mature live action versions directed by Jean Marais (1947) and Christophe Gans (2014).
This film is, in fact, an extremely accurate adaptation of the 1991 cartoon and it is very close to the Disney DNA. So, it is punctuated with musical scenes that offer us the opportunity to hear the mythic songs we grew up with and to discover new ones as well. The costumes and the props also plunge us in Disney’s peculiar and magical atmosphere. The unforgettable talking objects are also back. So, we catch up with Lumière the candlestick… sorry, the candelabra, Cogsworth the clock, Mrs. Potts the teapot, Chip the adorable teacup and all their friends.
Moreover, Bill Condon tries to convey the message of tolerance and open-mindedness that underlies the original story which aimed at teaching children to look beyond appearances and to judge people according to their personalities and not to their looks. So, the director made a point of filming characters from various origins. He also seems to imply that one of the main protagonists might be homosexual. This controversial choice even led some countries to ban the movie. But, this engagement remains rather subtle so that the film does not seem moralizing.
So, even if it is mainly addressed to children, Beauty and the Beast remains a nice and entertaining movie to watch with the whole family.
Beauty and the Beast, Bill Condon, USA, 2017, 2h09, released in Lebanon on the 16th of March 2017, in the United States of America and in Canada on the 17th of March 2017 in France, Switzerland and Belgium on the 22nd of March 2017.