Beauty, Revisited

Steven Harper PiziksDarwin and I finally saw BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.  My thoughts:

–Emma Watson isn’t a great singer. Her voice is quite weak compared to Paige O’Hara. Come to that, none of the cast members has a standout voice, except the opera singer lady. I don’t really want the album, as a result.

–They plugged a number of plot holes in this version, including why the villagers seem to have no idea an enchanted castle inhabited by a monstrous beast is within easy walking distance of their village; why the enchantress punished the castle’s inhabitants as well as the prince; and why the village seems to enjoy summer weather, but the castle lives in winter.

–They used more material from the original fairy tale, including Belle’s father cutting a rose from the Beast’s garden.

–LeFou was clearly in love with Gaston throughout this movie. I’m still not happy with Disney for handing us a villain as our first LGBT character, despite the fact that (SPOILER) LeFou redeems himself by the end. The final scene ticked me off all over again.  All the media outlets reported that LeFou would dance for a moment with a man, and he does–but first he dances with TWO women.

–We had a moment of gay panic mixed with a transgender moment. During the seige of the castle, the wardrobe attacks three of the villagers by stuffing them into elaborate women’s outfits.  (This happens in the original movie as well, but with just one man.) Two of the villagers are so freaked out by being men in dresses that they run away.  (Gay panic!)  The third man realizes he likes the look and sashays away instead.  I wasn’t as happy about that aspect as I should have been because the whole thing was played for laughs.  Trans people are played as objects of comedy and ridicule, you see.  I’m surprised the right-wing nutbags didn’t say anything about this–the scene actually lasts longer than LeFou’s dance with another man.

–This movie’s version of “Gaston” is actually superior to the original.

–The French Renaissance baroque style of decoration for Cogsworth, Mrs. Potts, and Lumiere are intricate and incredibly detailed, but ultimately it’s difficult to make out details because facial features–eyes, mouths, noses, etc.–are so tiny. And Mrs. Potts reminded me of that toy plastic phone from Toy Story 3.  She seems more like a windup toy.  It’s cute, though, they way have Chip use his saucer like a skateboard.

–They definitely didn’t change the main theme of the movie: it’s a woman’s responsibility to rehabilitate an abusive man by loving him so much that he’ll change from a beast into a kind, handsome prince.  It made me squirm in my seat to watch Emma Watson start to fawn on the guy who, moments ago, screamed at her, pounded on her door, and ordered her locked in her room to starve.  Let the wolves have him, girl!

Overall?  The movie was done well, but I can’t recommend it because of the themes and its poor treatment of LGBT people. Try harder, Disney.

–Steven Harper Piziks

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