The world of fairytales is back. Emma Watson, the ‘Hermoine Granger’ of Hollywood is back and boy, hasn’t she done well? Recently, we had read that the girl had said no to Lala Land for Beauty and the Beast. She was called a fool. People literally laughed at her misfortune, but the girl has taken the box office by storm. The film is a visual treat and Emma Watson is undoubtedly the heart and soul of this tale.
The film is an adaptation of the classic fairytale “Beauty and the Beast” by author Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont. The story follows a selfish, hard-skinned prince who is cursed by a beautiful enchantress after he turns away a beggar woman for her appearance (She is actually the enchantress herself). She transforms the prince into a hideous beast. She gives him rose and tells him he’ll remain in his cursed state unless he learns to love some and earns her love in return by the time the last petal falls. Whether or not the beast would be able to break the curse forms the crux of the story.
Emma Watson comes out all guns blazing. She forms the heart of the film. Dan Stevens as the prince/beast is no less convincing. Emma Watson’s ‘beauty’ and the ‘Beast’ in Dan Stevens end up the film. Furthermore, a sense of vulnerability is what was required to play Belle and she seems to have nailed it. Dan Stevens as the hard-skinned prince was as ruthless as one could imagine. The way Stevens has gone about his ‘beasty’ business is commendable. Luke Evans as Gaston, the arrogant hunter does a great job as well. One can clearly see drops of arrogance and selfishness dripping of his forehead.
I too, like many of you, already know the story, the basic plotline and the conclusion as well. The newness lies in the way the entire story has been presented. The songs fit in perfectly and complement the entire setup. The way this story has been weaved together with all its visual elements is something which stands out. Both Belle as well as her father Maurice (played by Kevin Kline) have been given short back-stories, that though unnecessary, end up adding a lot of richness to the film.The entire setup showcasing the 18th century France, the costumes are pleasing to the eye. The story lacks pace in the first half.. The second half is full of ups and downs. The Film lacks depth, but contains innocence. The story has been read and heard a thousand times, but again, truth be told, the visual representation of the story contains freshness.
Alan Menken has composed the music of the film. Songs and musical sequences complement the entire setup with utmost ease. Music isn’t only pleasing to the ears, but also symbolizes varying moods and situations. Menken’s compositions are a joy to listen. You tend to lose yourself whenever the music plays. Full marks to Menken for coming out with such a rich and brilliant album. Songs act as the soul of this tale and make you laugh, make you cry and make you giggle.
Director Bill Condon has gone out his job with utmost sincerity and honesty. He chose to play around with characters. For instance, Belle and her father Maurice were given short back-stories in order to add richness to the entire film. Condon has been successful in creating a world of fairytales to quite an extent. The story has been put together piece by piece. We will certainly have to learn from Condon the art of narrating a story that has already been told a thousand times. To top it all, Condon infuses impetus into the story though some intelligent ‘additions’.
Beauty and the Beast has always occupied a special place in my heart ever since I was a little boy, still in my nappies. It taught me to look beyond physical appearances. The whole idea of falling in love with a human and not his looks is something that has always been with me. The film, with all its visual elements and VFX technology takes us back in time. You can’t find faults in this one. You’ll enjoy it no matter how old you are.
Overall rating: ****/5