“Winter turns to Spring, famine turns to feast, nature points the way, nothing left to say, Beauty and the Beast.” –Mrs. Potts
Disney could have hardly chosen a better time to make and release a live-action adaption of the beloved Beauty and the Beast 1991 animated classic.*
Winter’s cold, snowy and lethargic presence has been exacerbated by a long, polarizing and turbulent political season, leaving many of us desperately longing for a ray of spring sunshine and a rebirth of our depleted spirit.
While I suspect the film would have been a record-breaker** regardless of its release date, Bill Condon’s Beauty and the Beast was all the more enjoyable and uplifting for the contrast it provides to the current mood and political climate permeating our country.
Whisking us away to a magical world of rolling green hills, a picturesque French village, and a hidden castle in a menacing forest, Beauty and the Beast not only masterfully captured the animated classic’s storyline and spirit in live-action – largely due to exquisite performances by the whole cast of characters – but was a true joy to watch, lifting our spirits and reminding us of the timeless wisdom to find beauty and goodness amidst darkness.
Honoring the lyrical songs written by Howard Ashman and the beloved, whimsical characters, who are just as vibrant and endearing as they were in the original, the film’s greatest strength is imparting subtle changes, with an air of freshness, into the original’s costumes, songs, characters and plot.
Tackling one of the most celebrated Disney classics – without overdoing it or taking too many liberties – is no easy feat, not to mention a bold undertaking. But, striking the perfect balance, Disney has shown it possible to truly bring a tale as old as time to life in a beautiful, enriching and imaginative way.
Of interest reading:
- The New York Times review of this year’s Beauty and the Beast, which writes: “Its classicism feels unforced and fresh. Its romance neither winks nor panders. It looks good, moves gracefully and leaves a clean and invigorating aftertaste. I almost didn’t recognize the flavor: I think the name for it is joy.”
- The New York Times review of the 1991 Beauty and the Beast
- Emma Watson’s (Belle) feature in this month’s Vanity Fair
- Dan Stevens (Beast) interview in The Australian
*The 1991 Beauty and the Beast was the first animated feature to receive an Academy Award nomination for best picture (it won two Oscars, for original song and original score).
**This year’s Beauty and the Beast has broken the record for the biggest opening weekend ever for March with an estimated $170 million, had the biggest opening ever for a PG-rated movie, and is now in 7th place in all-time opening weekend grosses, surpassing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (part 2).