Beauty and the Beast – the phenomenon that became a movement.
Beauty and the Beast, the new disney movie phenomenon is so much more than just a movie, it’s a movement. It is so many things and yet such a simple thing, a beautiful movie, very well made, telling “a tale as old as time” as Mrs Pott’s would say. It’s a good old fashioned fairy tale, a story well loved, re-made, making it very much a current tale, a bench-mark of where in society we’re at, and where we have the potential to go. Evocative, dramatic, beautiful, all things, wrapped up in a simple thing, a moment’s entertainment, a much longer time of conversation and though provocation at a subliminal level. Ladies and Gentleman, I give you, Beauty and the Beast…I give you progress, feminism, idealism, gender, sexual orientation, education, and so many other issues to ponder.
Beauty and the Beast was always going to arrive to rave reviews and much excited anticipation. A fantastic story, a supreme cast, the powerhouse herself that is Emma Watson cast as Belle in itself raises an immediate expectation regarding the connotations of the character of Belle because of all we associate with Miss Watson and her views. By the casting of Belle alone a clear statement is being made, that this is a fairy tale featuring an empowered female. I was fortunate to be able to attend the UK launch of the movie along with my family, I promise not to ruin the story or the twists in the tale for viewers, but I can promise enthralling viewing that will not disappoint. Already excited to return to view along with friends, and enjoy some of the very many other spin-offs that have materialised since the commencement of 2017 in anticipation of this movie, set to continue throughout the year and beyond.
This movie had delivered entertainment, merchandise, leisure and hospitality experiences, food, and then…there’s the conversation, the thought and perhaps the belief that may ensue as seeds are planted in young minds. Oh, and let’s not forget the theme tune (yes, you will get tearful).
First, Let’s start with the movie.
(Disney MovieTrailer taken from Disney YouTube Channel)
First of all, in case you’ve been under a rock somewhere…extremely far away like Mars for instance. The Disney Movie, Beauty and the Beast re-make, is in fact a musical. It’s just what we need at this unsettling political time, a wholesome, happy, upbeat musical with a fantastic musical arrangement and cast that just screams quality production. To have so many amazing talented actors in one Disney production is really something rather special, as was getting to see so many of them in the flesh up on stage at the film launch in Leicester Square, on 23rd February 2017, in the presence of greatness indeed. As the director Bill Condon ( of Dreamg Girls and the Twilight saga fame) began to introduce the movie my husband leaned in towards me and whispered..”who’s in it?” I chuckled, and nodded at the stage, as the director began to bring out the cast members present. To give you just some of the amazing people who took part in this film: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Josh Gad, Ian Mckellen, Emma Thompson, Ewan McGregor, Kevin Kline, Stanley Tucci, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Audra McDonald…you surely get the picture, a stellar star cast all around. My husband was stunned to see some of his movie idols before the movie had even began. Me, I was still mulling over the two love rivals, The Beast, played by Downton Abbey’s Dan Stevens and Gaston, The Girl on the Train’s Luke Evans. Mmmm, dim the lights, let the film begin.
An overview, without ruining the whole film for those or you who are looking forward to discovering the new Beaty and The Beast for yourself: Disney’s animated classic takes on a new form, no longer just animation, with a broader mythology conveyed by the all-star cast mentioned above. A young prince, imprisoned in the form of a beast as a curse for his arrogance and inhumanity, can be freed only by true love as in the original story. What may be his only opportunity arrives when he meets Belle, the only human girl to ever visit the castle since it has become enchanted through the curse.
Belle (Emma Watson), is clearly a bright, beautiful and very independent young woman. She reads…a lot, shows intelligence and logic by inventing things that make daily tasks easier by thinking outside of the box. This clever inventor Belle isn’t pushed down the audiences throat, but is subtly done. This Belle isn’t the traditional take on a beauty that everyone admires and fawns over, rather she is treated as an outsider, a little odd because of her passion for books, her desire to be herself and not feeling the need to conform to the stereotypical roles and behaviours of the other girls in her village. She is whispered about, ridiculed and treated as an oddity.
Contrary to what I have seen written of the movie, Belle isn’t taken prisoner by the beast (Dan Stevens) in his castle. Belle, bravely, cunningly lock’s herself in the prison to save her Father, this is the Bests’s first introduction to true humanity and a true selfless act. Despite her fears, she befriends the castle’s enchanted staff and learns to look beyond the beast’s hideous exterior over time, allowing her to recognise the kind heart and soul of the true prince that remains on the inside.
Both of them give each other a reciprocal unconditional type of love, support, freedom to be themselves and feel appreciated for who they are, by discovering themselves along the journey of the film whilst growing to love one-another. The Beast has what Belle admires, knowledge, books, (lot’s of books) experience of travel and the ability to take her places, see things, (including her past) to help her understand who she is and what she truly want’s having spent so much of her time refusing the advances of Gaston and ruling out any form of romantic future ahead of herself. Belle teaches the Beast humanity, love, appreciation for the things he took for granted as perks of his “very expensive education’ as he himself jokes. Seeing her passion for them enables him to re-look at simple things, openly admit to an interest in romantic tales without having to hide beneath macho bravado. To enjoy nature, simplicity and life itself.
There are so many other relationships within the sub context of this film and layers to dissect on a deeper level, but those are for you to discover. In brief, there is Belle’s Father, who didn’t really have much presence previously, but in this movie we get to understand him, his motivations, a little better by being given the knowledge regarding what happened to Belle’s Mother and the very brave choices he himself had to make and how they may have impacted his life and his relationship with his daughter as a result. What may previously have been presented as a slightly weak Father, in a very simple sub-plot is communicated as actually being a very strong father who had to make the toughest decisions and has continued to protect his daughter and raise her single handedly. The way he defends his daughter against the lothario Gaston and assures him she would never marry him, supportive of her education, reliant on her to assist him with his own creations demonstrating a Father who has clearly spent much time in the work-shop sharing his skills and knowledge with his daughter, creating and shaping the head strong articulate brave girl we see before us. A girl in an apron that’s more functional than frilly, not so much trussed up restrictive corsets as free flowing and functional, says it all.
The very much talked about relationship between Gaston and his sidekick LeFou is very much a modern twist on the tale and very well done. The writers have developed the admiration felt by sidekick LeFou (played by actor Josh Gad) for his friend Gaston. It appears to be a one-sided crush, unrequited love (like Gaston’s affections for Belle) and the total adulation one person has for another they hold on a pedestal. Gaston is brave, strong, handsome, tall, loud, all the things that LeFou is not. So he hero worships him, happy to be his friend and companion feeling almost special by association and longing for the love and attention of his crush, reportedly one of the first obvious gay moments in a Disney movie comes courtesy of this film. This is not a suggested moment, but one intentionally made part of the movie by it’s director.
Personally, I don’t see it as a gay relationship so cannot understand the outcry from some corners regarding the moment, it’s a gay crush. It’s communicated in a tongue in cheek way. Gaston, loud proud, tall is well accustomed to adulation from every corner and in my opinion is well aware of the affection his sidekick feels for him, he makes humorous reference to it on one occasion about himself not being of that way. But yes, LeFou is certainly unashamedly gay in the movie. This movie is about owning who you are embracing it and being proud, whatever and whoever you may be, acceptance is possible.
As for Gaston, he is a master manipulator and uses his friend as his sidekick, his support system and partner in crime when required.
But we do actually see LeFou rebel in the end by refusing to go along with Gaston thus indicating the spell he was under is in fact broken, the crush is over, he moves on and joins in the fight to save the enchanted castle. He finds courage, strength and his finally the ability to stand up to his friend. The emancipation of LeFou. Empowerment on so many levels in this film.
Having discussed the main characters in such depth little time has been given to the supporting characters who were truly amazing. the enchanted castle, Emma Thompson (Mrs Potts) does a wonderful job of weaving the thread throughout the tale providing continuity and of course great song, and then there’s the relationship of Lumière and Cogsworth—who are played by Ewan McGregor and Ian McKellen providing humour, logic, wit and helping to set the tone of the scene just simply stunning, entertaining, indeed enchanting and everything you would have hoped for and more from this movie.
Beauty and the Beast is truly moving, evocative, thought provoking. I loved the moment when my seven year old son leaned forward in the darkness of the film launch, when it get’s to the ballroom dance scene (of that yellow dress infamy) my son leant forward and whispered unprompted, “I’m not crying” whilst giving my hand a super squeeze. That said it all. I handed him a tissue and sat back to enjoy the last few enthralling scenes.
What I can tell you, all ends well, it really is a tale as old as time, except in this one, the girl, Emma Watson, Beauty, really is the hero. She saved her father, she saved the beast, she saved herself (from Gaston), She found herself, she found acceptance, she gave acceptance, she found love, Beauty and the Beast.
Now, after you’ve enjoyed all of this, not ready to give up that feel good factor the movie evoked? Well, why not let the fun continue, let’s take a look at the many ways the phenomena that is Beauty and The Beast has filtered on into the high Street, into our lives, into our hearts and wallets!
Now, here is the thing I am most excited to try besides seeing the film itself, remember the song and the tagline, Be Our Guest? Well imagine being guest at a Beauty and the Beast inspired Afternoon Tea! No longer the thing of fantasy, you can actually experience this delight in in London at The Town House.
This looks to good to be true, but it’s real and looks fabulous, who care’s and who’s surprised there’s a very long waiting list for it now, jump on it now! Re-watch the movie in the colder months and go and have a fabulous Beauty and The Beast inspired Afternoon Tea!
“To celebrate the upcoming release of the highly-anticipated Beauty and the Beast film, Town House at The Kensington is delighted to be offering a special Afternoon Tea with a magical twist.
This delightful Afternoon Tea, named Tale as Old as Time, complete with charming Mrs. Potts and Chip Potts dishware, ensures the perfect family outing or fun afternoon with friends and loved ones. The various sweets and savouries featured in this whimsical afternoon tea are inspired by the characters and scenes of the film.
The Tale as old as Time Afternoon Tea is sold out until the end of November.
£35 per person or £45 with a glass of Champagne” – Details copied from their website.
Of course, if you’re a dab hand in the kitchen and can’t wait until November, you could start re-creating your own Beauty & the Beast inspired tea parties:
Straight out of Disney, tantalise your taste buds with this little beauty…if you can get hold of one,currently sold out and certainly a cult status worthy must have item, surely!
Limited edition of 2000 worldwide, 250 in Europe
Intricately designed with fine delicate decoration
Mrs Potts teapot is embossed on spout with an engraved lid and body
4 cups include Chip, who features character accurate ‘chip’
Made from fine china
Obviously there is the usual obligatory merchandise you’d expect with any Disney or in fact feature movie, the figurines, the dolls, the toy cups and sets for the children, can you say “Christmas!”
Around the country there are other Afternoon Teas and Beauty and the Beast inspired events to attend. For instance in Glasgow, The Grosvenor Cinema is offering a treat for Cinema goers who with to combine seeing the Beauty and the Beast movie with their Special tea party event “Belle’s Boutique” It’s pretty much sold out I’m told by staff currently with the first intended day being Saturday 18th March.
You essentially get to indulge in a traditional Afternoon Tea, along with (for the adults) a glass of Bucks Fizz, followed by a special screening of the new Beauty and the Beast film. Tickets cost £25 per person and are available from the cinema direct:
If the Disney Store tease was out of your price range, Primark offer a more modestly priced Chip Mug:
Then there’s the chance to embrace your inner Belle and stay in a fairy tale castle:
To celebrate Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Holiday Home booking site, HomeAway® are giving you a chance to win a stay at Duns Castle for you and 20 guests. Plus, five runners-up could win a HomeAway® vacation.
You could win a stay at Duns Castle for you and 20 guests
5 nights’ stay
Meals and entertainment
It’s simple to enter here:
Failing that you could go the whole way and opt for a trip to either Euro disney or Disney and indulge in the full Disney Beauty and The Beast experience.
Let’s not forget the soundtrack, obviously amazing with the main theme tune being sung by John Legend & Ariana Grande, set to be with us for some time to come I’m sure. But also, like all great songs, we then have the covers, the mix’s the ability to indulge and take and interpret for ourselves. Whilst researching the Beaty and the Beast phenomena tonight I found that one of my own social media contacts has released his own version of one the themes tunes on youtube, you may remember Karl Loxley, the Classical Crossover Singer/Actor as seen on TheVoiceUK . #TEAMTOM check out his rendition here of: Evermore from Beauty and the Beast, it’s really rather good.
The opportunities to indulge, engage and loose yourself in the phenomenon that is Beauty and the Beast is seemingly endless, growing with each day and surely set to rise with the official UK release of the movie. There will be the dressing up, the costumes, the accessories the experiences, all enabling us to indulge our fantasies a little longer. Whilst entertaining us, the production has serves as so much more. A benchmark of our times, a turning point in major movie making, in family film in fact, on so many levels, in terms of relationships, with ourselves, with each other, with society. It raises questions and hopes about the ability to be one’s self, to find true love and acceptance by accepting ourselves and one another, and that the belief that anything is possible, even when all seems lost. Beauty and the Beast, the new disney movie phenomenon is so much more than just a movie, it’s a movement.Find yourself, be yourself. It’s magical, it’s enchanting, the music will uplift you, the heroism will inspire and empower and the overall movie all around will just leave you with that total positive warm glow, feel good factor. That’s what it’s made for.
Now go, get tickets, sit back, enjoy. x