Beauty and the Beast: an animated Disney classic remade and modified to tell perhaps a more developed version of a tale as old as time. The Belle (Emma Watson) we see here is a more fully explored individual, questioning her small-town life and the small-town attitudes that surround her. She is a maverick in her French village, reading and inventing; however, her gender calls into question her interests in such pursuits instead of marriage. Figures that plague her days, such as Gaston (Luke Evans), only encourage her desire to escape: her chance comes soon enough when she goes to save her father. Locked in his tower, Beast (Dan Stevens, Matthew from Downton Abbey) rots away, bitter at what his life has become; his heart as cold as the day he was cursed. It will take this maverick woman, an outsider like him, to teach him the greatest lesson: humility.
The film stays true to its roots with all the classic characters such as Lumière and Cogsworth (Ewan McGregor and Ian McKellen) running around and brightening the decaying castle. Yet, this version also tells the themes of the story in an all too realistic light: from the ignorant and blood hungry French villagers turned mob, to the portrayal of marriage as a taming process of ownership. The film is enhanced by its elaborate and eloquent colour scheme, which brings to life the characters in a whole new way.
Overall, the film is more of a nostalgic experience, as if old friends have reappeared once more. The film does, however, discover new life through Belle, as she is very much the master of her own fate in this portrayal: playing a more conscious part and making it clear she is not simply a damsel in distress. The film succeeds in presenting Belle again to a whole new generation in their own yellow dresses, however, this time a more realistic version.
Image: Melissa Hillier