It’s a tale as old as time, but no less enchanting than the first time Disney released the animated version of Beauty and the Beast back in 1991. The 2017 live-action version of the ‘tune as old as song’ was released into theaters on Mar. 17. Much like many of the live action’s predecessors, the opening weekend shattered records in the box office its opening weekend, an astounding $170 million nationwide.
I have loved Disney since before I could even speak, I grew up surrounded by it since Disneyland was only an hour’s drive away from my childhood home. Beauty and the Beast (1991) has always been in my top 10 favorite Disney films, and my love for it deepened after working on the stage production in high school. To say I was thrilled about a live-action version with a cast made up of some of my favorite actors and actresses is to say not quite enough.
While I did watch the film with my Disney-goggles on, I found new reasons to love this retelling of an enchanting story that were not tied to its 26-year-old predecessor.
While there are those that were and still very much are against Emma Watson as Belle, I found her take on the character refreshing and endearing. As with any musical production, the key in which a song can be sung may change depending on the actress that is cast, and I personally think that Watson’s rendition of the songs “Belle” and “Something There” were done beautifully. Her characterization of Belle portrays her as the inventor in the family rather than just the town’s bookworm. Watson has come far from her childhood years playing Hermione in the Harry Potter films, her range of emotions proving to be quite impressive.
Watson was not the only one with a brilliant performance, Dan Stevens who played the Beast delivered a chillingly beautiful solo in the song “Evermore”. A lot of his emotions could be read in his eyes, and when he sang I could not bring myself to look away until the song had ended.
The costuming for the live-action was perhaps one of my favorite parts, vibrant and beautiful, if not a little zany. The costume designer, Jacqueline Durran, masterfully combined 18th century period pieces with more modern and empowering pieces to fit the story presented in the live-action. She worked closely with Watson to create an image for Belle that empowered her feminism and portrayed some of the character’s more unique traits.
As with any movie that I see, it is the score that draws me to it the most. If the score isn’t good, then almost 90 percent of the time I will not enjoy it quite as much. The original score for Beauty and the Beast, as well as the score for the Broadway musical (1993), are some of the most nostalgic scores I have ever listened to. It never fails to send shivers down my spine and to bring a smile to my face. To hear them be so flawlessly mixed into this modernized and rewritten score was truly heartwarming.
Despite initial reservations and some confusion after press releases, Disney made close to the film’s release date, it is a film I certainly don’t mind watching again and again. The love and care poured into the production of this film are apparent in every frame, and I for one look forward to the next live-action retelling of the stories that made me who I am today.