March 22nd 2017
Today I watched the latest remake of Beauty and the Beast. I say ‘latest’, because I swear I went to watch a remake of Beauty and the Beast like two years ago. That one was just a digital remastering of the original, and was shown in 3D. This remake could also be shown in 3D, but we watched the 2D version.
They did that annoying thing where they made the film with 3D in mind, rather than making the film and then adding the 3D bits. All of the grandiose, swirling, twirling, crane-rig camera shots would’ve looked great in 3D, but without those glasses on, those shots looked a bit shit. You couldn’t really see what was going on because it didn’t render properly for flat viewing.
The story itself is the same as the previous (two) version(s), with the exception that Lefou is gay, Belle is a feminist inventor, and there are more people of colour. It kinda seemed like Disney were trying to be more progressive with this film – Lefou was touted as being the first openly gay Disney character, but I’d argue that had been obvious since the original.
Noted feminist Emma Watson said in an interview that she would only take the role if they wrote in a job for Belle, so that she wasn’t just a girl who sat around daydreaming, but one that was intelligent and creative – and, of course, beautiful. So, the writers made her an inventor, just like her father, crazy old Maurice.
However, the only glimpses of her invention and intellect we get are when she pulls a bobby pin our of her hair so that her Dad can pick a lock, and when she invents a machine that does the laundry for her so that she can sit around daydreaming (and, admittedly, teaching a little girl to read).
I’m not sure whether the under-deliverance was intentional, but it feels like they only really scratched the surface with their attempt at progressiveness. I’d’ve thought, with the success of Disney’s first coloured Princess in The Princess and the Frog, and Polynesian Princess Moana, that they would’ve realised that in the 21st century, it’s okay to be a bit more diverse than Cinderella, Snow White, and Belle.
And they tried to be diverse, but it only really feels like a token effort. I don’t think Emma Watson’s Belle was any more feminist than her animated predecessor. She gives a bit of a sing-song speech about how she wouldn’t marry a man like Gaston, and how she wants more for her life than to be someones wife (fairly sure that’s an actual lyric from the song) but then she goes and falls in love with a bloke who literally held her captive in a tower and treated her just as badly as he treats his talking alarm clock.
I didn’t hate the film as much as I thought I would, but that’s mainly because I love Emma Watson.
Until tomorrow, unless she’s trying to sing, that is…