This weekend marks the second time in the entire history of my life that I am watching a film at the cinema more than once. The last time it happened was approximately fourteen years ago when ‘Love Actually’ came out. (And ironically, coincides with the recent ‘Red Nose Day Actually’ sequel!)
Tonight I am taking Sam to the cinema to see the much talked about ‘Beauty & the Beast’.
I only went last weekend to see it, and yet as soon as the film ended, I longed to see it again. In fact, my sisters-in-law and I could have stayed put in our seats and waited for the next screening to come on.
That evening, I downloaded the film soundtrack in its entirety, much to Sam’s amusement. (And now possibly annoyance at its consistent playing!) All words to the newer songs including pauses, key changes and fiddly bits now all learnt by heart, of course!
Being the biggest Disney fan on Earth (I like to think), I couldn’t help but write a post dedicated to one of the best Disney films ever to have been created and share with you 7 thoughts about this newer version, complete with some ‘did you know?’ trivia.
Beauty & the Beast
1. New additional songs
I am one to worry when things I know really well are tweaked or have things added to them. This film was no exception. But I have to say, the songs that have been added to this film do it justice, and are extremely well sung. Very moving as well. The film as a whole was like watching a stage production. Every song felt like a big number that you wanted to applaud at the end, forgetting that you were in the cinema, rather than a theatre.
Perhaps this is the way many films are going – the ‘Frozen’ effect.
Walt Disney attempted to develop Beauty and the Beast into an animated film both in the 1930s and 1950s, but ultimately gave up because the writers found the story too difficult to adapt.
2. Emma Watson playing Belle
Depending on who you talk to and what you read, there is an entire mix of opinions. Before I had seen it myself, I wasn’t sure whether Emma could be anyone other than Hermione Granger from Harry Potter. However, I was not put off by the fact that she played Belle, and even though I think the role should have gone to an unknown actress, I wasn’t in anyway disappointed.
Beauty and the Beast was the first animated film to earn more than $100 million at the box office.
3. The original film
I was so relieved to find that the film-makers had kept to the original plot and hadn’t twisted it about in any way. A couple of new songs only added to the greatness of the film.
Beauty and the Beast was the second Disney film produced (and first “prestige film”) to use CAPS (Computer Animation Production System), a software developed for Disney by Pixar.
4. A better understanding of Belle and the Beast’s pasts
Although this new film didn’t deviate from the original plot, there were a couple of extra snippets into Belle and the Beast’s pasts. You get to find out what happened to Belle’s mother, and how the Beast ended up being the seemingly heartless and haughty character before he was put under the spell by the Enchantress.
Belle is the only person in her village who wears blue, which is meant to symbolise how different she is from everyone else.
5. Portrayal of characters
I have to say I liked the fact that Maurice, Belle’s father, didn’t come across as the doddery old man as he is in the original Disney version. He is still an artist/inventor but very much with it and is able to hold his own at times during the film. The character of Lefou, portrayed by Josh Gad (once you realise it’s the actor who voiced Frozen’s Olaf, you can’t help but hear the voice), is also well-developed from the simple, slapstick buffoon of a baddy sidekick he is in the animated version; in 2017, Lefou has a much more rounded part to play, and is warmed to by the audience to the extent that he ‘changes sides’ at the end of the film to be with the good characters.
Animator Glen Keane based the Beast’s appearance on a several animals, drawing inspiration from the mane of a lion, head of a buffalo, brow of a gorilla, tusks of a wild boar, legs and tail of a wolf, and the body of a bear.
6. Who’s who?
I did not realise until the credits were rolling just how star-studded this film actually is. Tons of actors I knew of but just had no idea they were in the film. Seemingly myself and at least half the other people in the cinema were sat, goggle eyed at the screen as name upon famous name scrolled before our eyes. Cue lots of “oh course it is! I knew I recognised that voice!” The high quality of secondary character actors clearly added to the standard of the film.
The song “Be Our Guest” was originally supposed to be sung to Maurice instead of Belle.The scene was rewritten to include Belle in the song, as producers felt the song was too good to waste on secondary character Maurice.
7. 1980’s born children
The original film was released back in 1991, can you believe?!
Twenty six years ago, my seven year old self sat and watched with wonder at the marvel of Beauty and the Beast.
Twenty six years on and I am in a cinema filled with hundreds of other 1980s born children (there are older and younger of course, but my generation is definitely the majority) and still marvelling at the story line.
Angela Lansbury, the voice of Mrs. Potts, did not think she was suited to sing the ballad “Beauty and the Beast.” She recorded one take at the director’s request, to have for a back up if nothing else worked, and that one recording ended up in the film.
Without a doubt, this 2017 version of Beauty and the Beast is truly a feast for the eyes and ears. Twenty six years of advanced CGI quality with an awesome collection of songs means that this tale as old as time, will without doubt remain a favourite for many years to come.
Feature image credit
The views and opinions expressed in this blog post are entirely my own.