Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast Poster“Tale as old as time, song as old as rhyme…”

The story is a familiar one – a spoiled prince is turned into a hideous beast as punishment for his selfishness. His only hope of breaking the spell is to convince someone to love him before the last petal falls from a magical rose. Add in a delightful cast of enchanted objects and a rich score from Alan Menken, paint it all in charming 2D animation, and you have the Disney classic Beauty and the Beast.

Beauty and the Beast was a childhood favorite of mine. But then I grew old, stopped watching movies, and put Disney’s animated tales behind me. Now, several years later, I’m a screenwriter and watching movies more regularly. Since I have a special interest in animation, I decided to revisit some classic Disney tales and see how they held up. Beauty and the Beast pleasantly surprised me and has regained a position on my shelf of DVDs. It is perhaps my most favorite classic Disney film, as well as my favorite Disney fairytale remake. Here’s why.

The Beautiful

Perhaps the most wonderful aspect of this film is Belle’s motivations. Despite longing for excitement, Belle doesn’t run away from home in search of love or adventure. Instead, she leaves in search of her father – and sells herself to the Beast in exchange for her father’s freedom. This attitude is wholesome and a delight to see.

Similarly, the romance that develops between Belle and the Beast is based on several admirable character traits. Belle begins to respect the Beast when he heroically saves her life from a pack of wolves; afterwards, both begin to put aside their selfishness and look out for the other’s interests. The result is an obvious but worthy theme of “beauty comes from within” – looking to the heart rather than appearances.

This theme is contrasted by the arrogant Gaston. Gaston is handsome; all the town girls fawn over him – except Belle. Belle recognizes Gaston’s cocky and selfish actions and refuses to fall for him. But Gaston won’t take no for an answer; unlike the Beast, Gaston will do anything to get Belle, which [SPOILER!] ultimately ends in his death. The portrayal of Gaston clearly shows that good looks are not a deciding factor in true love.

The Beastly

The movie is pleasantly clean; there is no crude humor or innuendo and only one or two instances of mild language. However, the film is not completely spotless; of most concern is the immodesty. While most of Belle’s dresses are delightfully feminine and modest, her ball gown has bare shoulders and a low neckline. Additionally, many of the women around the town have revealing necklines.

While the Beast is a loveable character, he has one instance of unmanliness that concerns me. [SPOILER!] After the Beast selflessly lets Belle return to her father, he appears to “give up” on life. He does not react when raiders come to the castle, leaving his servants to organize the battle. When Gaston attacks him, the Beast does not fight back – until he sees Belle arrive. While it is natural for the Beast to be somber after losing his true love, depression is no excuse for weakness and surrender. By giving up, the Beast suggests that Belle was the only thing worth living for, instead of fighting for his castle like a true ruler.

In regards to magic, the only spell cast is that of the enchantress during the prologue. The only magic that the characters “use” during the course of the film is a mirror which allows the Beast to see anything he wants. I consider this type of magic to be tame and acceptable for the purposes of a fairytale and did not find it disturbing.

Happily Ever After

Overall, Beauty and the Beast enchanted me with its well-written story and wholesome themes. The clean content and admirable characters make it a fairytale I can not only enjoy but also emulate in my own writing. While the minor content issues are worth nothing, Beauty and the Beast has earned a place in my adult life as a film that is truly a classic.

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    • Jeffrey French
    • January 21st, 2012

    As a side note, this film has recently been re-released to theaters in 3D.

    Thanks for the review Aubrey!

  1. Thanks, Jeffrey!

    I am tempted to go see it in 3D… but the cost is a bit of a deterrent. 😛

      • Jeffrey French
      • January 21st, 2012

      Yeah, I’ve been tempted to do the same. This Disney Princess movie actually looks decent…

      …and 3D….

      *sigh*

  2. Yay! You reviewed one of my favorite movies!

    I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that if [SPOILER] Beast had fought back after letting Belle go, his brokenness wouldn’t have shown through. It would have felt like, “I just threw away the only girl I’ve ever loved and my only chance of being human again, but who cares? I’m a manly man, so I shall somberly fight!”

    In this case, I think it shows how he’s lost his beastliness through his relationship with Belle. He’s inwardly become human again. If he was still thinking like a beast, he’d have never even thought of feeling terrible.

    My two cents, anyway. 🙂

    • May I remind you who is responsible for getting me to watch this movie again, Jordan? 😉

      A very interesting thought. I would disagree, because the Beast being depressed is nothing new. He’s been in despair for the past 10 years. 😛 But it does show character change on his part – just now how I, personally, would have shown it. (We’ll have to see what you think of the way I handle this passage in Cogs.) Thanks for the comment!

      @Jeffrey – it is decent. 😉 Although I’ll admit I’m skeptical of this whole 2D animation in 3D concept…

    • BushMaid
    • January 30th, 2012

    Great review, Philly! (okay, I should really start calling you by your pen name…) This is one of my favourite Disney movies of all time. 😀

    • Thanks, lovely! And I don’t mind if you call me Philly around the web. Enough people call me Leah in public, and they never ask. 😉

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