Movie Review: Beauty and the Beast

(Photo: Walt Disney Studios)

               It’s time once again for an adventure in the great, wide somewhere. And by somewhere, I mean “the hidden heart of France” because that is where this tale as old as time is being told by Disney once more on the big screen. Disney’s story of Beauty and the Beast was first released as an animated movie in 1991. Twenty-five years later, it is now a live-action film retelling with all the classic characters and charming storytelling told through music and magic.

               Once again, we follow the tale of a young woman named Belle, played by Emma Watson, who longs for adventure outside her little town and away from the unwanted courting of the town’s hero Gaston, played by Luke Evens. Through a series of unexpected circumstances, Belle finds herself a resident of an enchanted castle that is ruled by the Beast, played by Dan Stevens, and staffed by a group of enchanted objects, who need to break a curse put on them by an enchantress.

               In this live-action retelling, there is much more story for us to explore. Some of the characters get more exposition and backstory, compared to the original animated movie, and the characters themselves are portrayed by an all-star cast, including Ewan McGregor as Lumière, Sir Ian McKellen as Cogsworth, and Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts.

               Another element that is also making a return to the big screen is the music numbers that made Beauty and the Beast a Disney classic. Originally composed and written by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, songs like “Be Our Guest” and “Beauty and the Beast” return and are beautifully composed and performed with more excitement and enriching choreography than what was possible with 2D animation in the original movie. This version of Beauty and the Beast features new songs like “How Does a Moment Last Forever” and “Evermore” composed specifically for the more tender moments in the movie and end credit songs are sung by Céline Dion and Josh Groban.

               With so much more to experience in Beauty and the Beast, how does a Jesuit value fit into this story? Well, that’s just it. Since there is more to the story, the characters experience the Magis, or “more,” in their specific situations. Because Magis is striving for the better or discerning the greater good, this movie shows how some of the main characters are trying to be the best version of themselves. Take for example, the Beast. At first, the Beast is in despair and has a low tolerance for anyone with whom he interacts, but as the movie goes on he strives to be the best version of himself by showing he is more than a monstrous face, showing compassion for Belle and the staff, and by not defining himself because of his actions in the past. Through the Beast’s character, we see how the value of Magis means to strive to be the best person possible by recognizing personal strengths and acting upon them with dignity and self-worth.

               Not so provincial anymore, huh?

Allison Upchurch Staff Reporter