Tale as old as Time: Beauty and the Beast still shines [movie review]

books, libraries, Beauty and the beast, fairy tales, fictional library, movies, movie poster, ugliness, beauty, shakespeare, emma watson
I watched the new Disney movie Beauty and the Beast with my mother and sister yesterday. It is is a retelling of the 1991 original Disney animated film.We are all familiar with the story, and I remember that as a little girl that me and my cousins would watch Disney movies during weekly Sunday reunions in our grandparents' house (my mother's side of the family) when they were both still living.

Most of us grew up watching these fantasy movies, and there's something supernatural about fairy tales that we don't get tired of these stories no matter how much they are rehashed and repeated. I'm interested in stories and myths, and fairy tales are also myths in a sense. I am a fan of Joseph Campbell (the great mythologist who studied these stories all over the world), and I think that we have a deep reaction to myths because they represent truths and symbolic aspects of the psyche and ourselves. That's why they are still timeless and people still flock to them in the movies even if we all already know the endings!

Belle is a weird girl in her village. She loves books, walks around their town with a book in hand (and the people make way for her) and is considered 'weird' because she doesn't concern herself with what women at that time were expected to desire. She's avoiding her persistent suitor, Gaston. She wants something more out of her provincial existence. She lives with her father, and her mother is dead and her father won't tell her the reason (yet).

Everything changes when her father gets lost in the woods and finds himself in an abandoned castle with eternal winter. A cursed Beast who was once a prince lives there, and only ~true love~ can break the curse. Belle saves her father and becomes the Beast's prisoner in his place.

I love how funny their first interaction was: the Beast was just a menacing shadow and Belle shouts to him in the darkness, "Who are you?" and the Beast answers with a mocking, insulting tone: "WHO ARE YOU?". Wait, this is my house, girl, you're the intruder here. My favorite scene is when Belle, fearless, holds the candles to his face to see clearly.

I praise modern visual effects in movies, because they are flawless. The Beast was believable and even in his monstrous form his eyes are all too-human. I actually love the Beast's form rather than his human form. The talking and moving objects were great, too.

Gaston is an example of a sociopath. His ego is big and we see that in the end he doesn't really love Belle but only saw her as a conquest. But I believe that the Beast is just as much of an asshole as Gaston if he didn't have the curse that made him humble. He did provide comic relief with his partner LeFou and I think they are secretly gay for each other.

The enchantress, Agathe, lying low in the village and pretending to be a humble spinster, is the God-figure who sets the story. If not for her, we wouldn't have the whole story!

Though if there's something I didn't like, I really don't feel those musical singing scenes which can become over-the-top.

books, libraries, Beauty and the beast, fairy tales, fictional library, movies, library love
The Library in the animated version
As a librarian and a bookworm, of course I loved the library scene! The Beast and Belle bond over Shakespeare, and she shows her his library. If I was offered a library like that I wouldn't need anything else, really. But I like the library scene in the animated version better, the library looks grander and I love Belle's reaction.

We see that there is kindness even in the most hideous of beasts, and the real beasts we should be scared of sometimes are just in our midst, and they might even be beautiful. 
I can't help but wonder, what if it was another way around? What if it was the girl who was cursed to be a Beast? I think that would make a sadder story. Anyway, that's not what this story is about. 
Love looks not with the eyes but with the mind; and therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.
-William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream

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