by Iñaki Oñate
With a look of suspicion my goth girlfriend asked me: why do you wanna go see The Beauty and The Beast (2017)? You don’t seem like the type of person that enjoys Disney stories.
Nervously I replied: you’re wrong, I love these kinds of stories. Talking furniture, a dying rose as a metaphor of a dying man and a happy ending secuence where everybody smiles and shines in perfect harmony… sure, my cup of tea.
She didn’t believe me and insisted: Look, you don’t have to do this for me, I do want to see the movie but if you don’t want to we can see something else. I admitted my lack of interest in the film but I explained that because I love her deeply I would embrace any kind of sacrifice. She hugged
me and kissed me and we bought the tickets. On our way to the cinema I glanced at a poster of the movie and I was marveled to see who was the protagonist: my sweet Emma Watson.
I had no idea she was in the film but as soon as I saw her name and her face on the poster I was calm and I knew the movie wasn’t going to be that bad. And that’s pretty much what happened to me while experiencing the film.
Although the film has an incredible voice cast – Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Ian McKellen and Emma Thompson among others – you could say that the only thing director Bill Condon did was poorly copy Disney’s original 1991 animated version.
There’s no original approach to the story, nor an interesting musical score. This lack of creativity is strange considering that Condon is the screenwriter of Chicago (2002), a great example of a well-made musical crime comedy. Yet Emma’s presence and strength elevate the character of Beauty to a more mature state than the rest of the cast.
Luke Evans as Gaston looks the part but that’s it, there’s no real threat or darkness in his performance. Kevin Kline, maybe due to the way his character is written, seems like a useless and weak father and has no weight whatsoever within the story.
Maybe this disenchantment with the movie comes from the fact that although I have never really enjoyed Disney movies I do have a deep respect for the artistry in them. With this new version of a folktale that is 300 years old I was hoping to find something just as new, something refreshing. Maybe I was hoping that the director would find aesthethic
inspiration in the vintage illustrations made by Walter Crane, Ann Anderson or Warwick Globe about this classic story. Or to see some reference to Petrus Gonsalvus, a member of the court of Henry II of France who suffered from hypertrichosis and is believed to have been the inspiration for the character of the Beast.
Bottom line is I was looking for a new approach, a new way of interpreting the story. My dear Emma, you have let me down this time but I know it’s not your fault so I forgive you. Now my goth girlfriend wants to see the sing- along version. I have no choice but to give it a try.
Iñaki Oñate / Writer (Quito, Ecuador – 1988) Iñaki resides in Buenos Aires, where he studied film directing at Universidad del Cine. His short films have been part of the official selection at the New York, La Habana and Cannes festivals. He’s currently developing his first feature film with his own independent production company, Undergofilms. He also works in music and art illustration.