Beauty and the Beast: Movie Review
PG for some action violence, peril and frightening images
Family, Fantasy, Musical, Romance
March 17, 2017
Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Josh Gad, Kevin Kline, Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellen, Emma Thompson, Audra McDonald, Stanley Tucci
Walt Disney Pictures
Beauty and the Beast is one of those fairy tales that contains a profound, eternal, even overtly Christian message about the human condition.
According to scholars, the story is 4,000 years old, but its modern version comes from a female French writer's version published in 1740 and abridged and re-worked in the 100 years thereafter. In the most popular modern versions, the story is a metaphorical fairy tale about the archetypal heterosexual relationship between men and women in God's Creation. As such, it reflects the Christian, biblical ideal of marriage where the love between a man and a woman transforms sinful hearts, especially the "beastly" nature of the male descendants of Adam, the first man.
Like its 1991 animated Disney version, the new live action Beauty and the Beast retains this wonderful theme as it recounts the story from the 1991 movie, which is about a strong-willed young woman in 18th Century France who takes her father's place at an enchanted castle ruled by a selfish prince who's been transformed into a beast by an enchantress whom the prince refused shelter from a storm.
Though the CGI special effects aren't as captivating as the 1991 movie's animation, Beauty and the Beast manages to hit many of the same emotional highs, diminished by a politically correct homosexual subplot between the villain and his effeminate sidekick, including a cross-dressing joke. Though brief, the subplot is so in-your-face and political that it detracts from the main fantasy. It also doesn't fit in with the fairy tale's strong heterosexual, moral and even biblical perspective. In fact, the sidekick's homosexual attraction toward his friend, the villain, seems based on lust rather than love, but the love that develops between Beauty and the Beast is a sacrificial, pure love.
(For more of the plotline, go to movieguide.org.)
Beauty and the Beast makes some small changes to the main story. For example, Belle's father is no longer an inventor, he's now an artist who makes beautiful music boxes. However, the basic story of a daughter who sacrifices herself for her father yet discovers true love by looking past appearances to see the inner beauty and worth within remains mostly intact. So, do the animated movie's beautiful, delightful, moving original songs and melodies, such as the iconic title song, the "Be Our Guest" number, and the lyrical "Something There." Happily, the filmmakers have added three new great songs, including a wonderful, heartbreaking ballad sung by the Beast called "Evermore", which becomes one of the new movie's highlights.
The movie's CGI effects aren't quite as compelling as the original Disney animation. For example, at a couple moments in the "Be Our Guest" number, the reactions of Belle to the dancing and singing objects don't have the same emotional depth. Her reactions needed to express more delight, or so it seems. (Still, the number received a big applause at the end of the screening.)
A more annoying problem with this live action version is the injection of anachronistic modern politics into this beautiful story. For example, the filmmakers have made Belle into even more of a feminist activist. The new Belle is teaching one of the younger girls in the village to read, and the girl's father maliciously chastises Belle.
This is minor, however, compared to the movie's inclusion of overt homosexual elements. For example, the villain Gaston's bumbling sidekick, Le Fou, has homosexual lust for Gaston. When Gaston tells Le Fou he intends to marry Belle, Le Fou askes, "What about us?" Also, when Gaston admires himself in the mirror, Le Fou also admires the reflection, adding that he's determined to "get" Gaston like Gaston is determined to get Belle. Then, during the musical number in the saloon where Le Fou sings Gaston's praises, Le Fou clings to Gaston a couple times.
Also, during the big battle between the villagers and the talking objects in the Beast's castle, the magical wardrobe in Belle's room dresses three of the unshaven men in women's clothes, and one of the men clearly enjoys the cross-dressing. Later, during the movie's celebratory ending, that same man, now in male clothes, starts dancing with Le Fou while all the other characters are paired off male and female. This last offensive image just rubs the viewer's face in the crazy, leftist identity politics and homosexual activism the filmmakers have admitted publicly they've wanted to promote.
Introducing modern leftist, homosexual politics into a timeless fairy tale for children is the height of self-righteous smugness. It not only offends viewers who don't agree with such controversial politics, or who don't agree with inserting controversial politics into a movie for children. It also takes the viewer's attention away from the main story behind the movie to stroke the selfish egos of the leftist filmmakers behind such a narcissistic movie. Ironically, the kind of homosexual references included in this version of Beauty and the Beast contradicts the story's main message that sacrificial love, not lust or bizarre fetishes, is what lifts people up and ennobles them.
This isn't to say that the people in a homosexual relationship can never know what sacrificial love is. It's only to show that the homosexual elements in this version of Beauty and the Beast are a political stunt, a base attempt to indoctrinate children and other moviegoers into a particular ideology and agenda that doesn't match the rest of the story.
So, while many parts of this Beauty and the Beast invoke the delights that can be found in the original 1991 animated version (not to mention the French classic by Jean Cocteau), the movie's gratuitous politically correct, homosexual elements make for an awkward experience that will annoy many people. It will also probably take away from the movie's ultimate financial success at the box office and on home video.