I don’t typically post two movie reviews in a row, but when an invitation came to watch the new Beauty and the Beast film, I was thrilled to accept. I arrived at the beautiful Warren Theater in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma with my sister Debbie, niece Ashley and great-nephew Kaleb, excited to see this live action remake of a classic Disney animated film.
Although this was my second visit to the Warren Theater, it was my first time in the Grand Infinity Room. With its 50X100 foot curved screen and comfy seats, this was a grand viewing experience indeed. Before the movie began there was a light show set to music from Beauty and the Beast. Nostalgia hit me immediately!
Beauty and the Beast has a large cast that includes Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Kevin Kline, Luke Evans, Josh Gad, Ian McKellen, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Emma Thompson, Nathan Mack, Audra McDonald, and Gugu Mbatha-Raw. This fairytale musical was directed by Bill Condon, is rated PG for mild violence and scenes that might be scary to young children, and has a run time of 2 hours and 9 minutes.
Beautiful Belle (Watson) and her father Maurice (Kline) live in a country village in France. They are surrounded by small minded people who don’t understand Maurice’s artistic creativity or Belle’s desire to read books, learn new things and go on adventures.
Belle has attracted the unwanted attention of Gaston (Evans), the town’s hunky self absorbed hero, who doesn’t actually have a hero’s heart. LeFou (Gad) plots to help his best friend win the hand of Belle and charm the townsfolk, while attempting to conceal Gaston’s more ruthless nature.
When Maurice gets lost on his way to the market, he encounters a montrous beast-like man who takes him prisoner. Belle finds her father held captive in the Beast’s (Stevens) huge, dark castle that lies under a magical enchantment. She frees her father and surrenders herself as a prisoner in his place.
Belle befriends the inhabitants of the gloomy castle. Under the same spell as the Beast, the staff has all been turned into furniture and household items and antiques. There’s the comforting and motherly Mrs. Potts (Thompson) and her tea cup son, Chip (Mack), a singing wardrobe (McDonald) and her cadenza husband (Tucci) and a sweet French woman turned into a feather duster, Plumette (mBatha-Raw). Presiding over the strange household are the candelabra Lumiere (McGregor) and the crotchety clock, Cogsworth (McKellen).
This eclectic group views Belle as their only hope for restoration. If the Beast does not learn to love, and be loved in return, before the last petal falls from the enchanted rose, he will remain a beast forever, and his staff will remain in their current state.
It’s a lot to ask of the girl who lost her father and her freedom on the same day.
But something beyond magical begins to happen, as Belle and her captor get to know each other. Beast feels his guard coming down, and the anger he has nursed for years is replaced with curiosity and a faint hope. Belle, who has longed for someone to discuss books with, sees beneath the gruff and gruesome exterior of the beast to the man trapped within.
They both wish to be free…free from the curse, free to live as themselves, free to love, and in Belle’s case, free to leave the castle to see her father. Time is running out as Gaston leads the villagers to the castle to kill the beast. Can love free them all before it is too late?
This was a beautiful remake. The animated film released in 1991 was a favorite of mine, the story enchanting on so many levels. My children were young and captivated as well, by this “tale as old as time…”. Beauty and the Beast was the first film that my granddaughter Aubrey watched over and over, at the age of 18 months. So this story, this movie, holds many special memories for me.
Which would explain why I watched it today through tear filled eyes, from start to finish. The music stirred my heart, the familiar songs, for this is a musical, made me smile, and the additional new songs and scenes enhanced the film. There were plenty of humorous moments too, from Gaston and his sidekick LeFou, Lumiere and Cogsworth, and even Belle and Beast.
What I love most about this film, beyond the music and the special effects and CGI, beyond the humor, is that this is a story about seeing past outward appearances, and into the heart. Beauty and the Beast is a love story, and a story about hope and redemption.
I so appreciate the opportunity to see the movie today, and spend time unpacking its truths on the ride back to Joplin. I will be seeing Beauty and the Beast again.