Elsa and Anna may be the Disney princesses of the day (okay, queen and princess, if you want to be technical – which most Disney fans usually are), but when I was a little girl (once upon a time), Belle was my girl.
I may not have gotten ousted by my entire village for reading, but I was the kid who always had her nose in a book. And if I wasn’t reading, I was writing in my journal. So when Disney created a princess whose love of books matched my own, I became a fan for life. And, um, that library? Hel-lo!
Now, in my thirties, when I heard the announcement that the movie powers that be were making a live-action film of “Beauty and the Beast” starring fellow bookworm Emma Watson, my first thought (after the fangirling had subsided) was: Don’t screw it up.
It’s always tricky revisiting a classic. Do you change it? Do you keep it the same? When it comes to Belle, I am a traditionalist. Don’t get crazy; the movie is a classic for a reason.
Earlier this week, Entertainment Weekly released the new photos of the major players in the film and as I said in a text message to a friend and fellow Belle girl, they: #nailedit. The images, coupled with the 90-second teaser trailer released earlier this year reassured traditionalists that the director and producers were being true to the animated movie.
That is, however, until Emma Watson revealed they are changing up Belle’s backstory. According to an article posted by Oh My Disney, Watson said it will be Belle who’s the inventor in the family while her father, Maurice, builds music boxes.
Watson said, “I was like, ‘Well, there was never very much information or detail at the beginning of the story as to why Belle didn’t fit in, other than she liked books. Also what is she doing with her time?’ So, we created a backstory for her, which was that she had invented a kind of washing machine, so that, instead of doing laundry, she could sit and use that time to read instead. So, yeah, we made Belle an inventor.”
Well. If they’re changing things up in this retelling of Beauty and the Beast, here are five questions I’d like the new “Beauty & the Beast” to answer:
Who was Adam before the Beast? The animated film gave the audience a quick little intro to the Beast, his curse, his magic mirror and, of course, the enchanted rose, but that was about it. In fact, we never even heard his real name during the film. I’d like to see some time devoted to Adam pre-curse. He may have been a bit short-tempered and quick to judge at the beginning of the film, but really there wasn’t a ton of evidence that he was the “spoiled, selfish and unkind” prince the narrator described. Seeing Adam in his “natural” state before he learned to be the kind, gentle Beast we all loved might give us a greater appreciation for his transformation that eventually broke the spell.
What happened to Belle’s mother? The Oh My Disney post touched briefly on Belle’s mother, saying that Belle “lost her,” but that’s literally the first mention we’ve ever heard about Belle’s missing parent. “Beauty & the Beast” is par for the course in Disney films for having at least one dead or absent parent, but it’s a characteristic of the franchise’s movies that audiences shouldn’t have to just accept. It doesn’t have to be a major plotline, but some homage should be paid to the character who’s never mentioned.
Where are the king and queen? Just like Belle’s mother, the Beast’s parents are nowhere to be seen. If he is, in fact, a prince, then it stands to reason that there exists somewhere a king in charge of the castle and the kingdom. So what happened to him and his queen? Were they cursed too? Did they flee when they saw what their son became? Were they sailing to a royal wedding in another kingdom and drown during a particularly vicious storm at sea? Again, absentee parents are not unusual for a Disney film, but it would be nice for them to buck tradition (since they already are) and devote some time to the Beast’s family.
Who is Le Fou? Gaston’s pint-sized, loyal sidekick Le Fou doesn’t have very much substance in the animated movie. Essentially, he’s just there to feed Gaston’s ego, carry the dead carcasses of his hunting trophies and cheer the guy up when Belle shoots him down. Josh Gad will be playing “the fool” (literally translated from the French le fou) and I’d love to see a little more meat to his character. Gad is no stranger to Disney movies: He gave a voice to Frozen’s summer-loving snowman, Olaf. Beyond the world of Disney, he has also starred in multiple films and TV shows. I’m hoping the simple fact that they’ve cast a more accomplished actor means they have bigger plans for Gad’s character than simply the sidekick.
How does the relationship between Belle and Beast evolve? In the animated movie, Belle and Beast have a grand total of one tense day after she agrees to be his voluntary prisoner in exchange for her father’s freedom. Then she breaks into the West Wing, almost destroys his enchanted rose and gallops off into the night on Philippe after the Beast loses his trademark temper. The Beast goes after her and saves her from a pack of wolves thinking they found an easy late-night dinner. And that’s it. End tension. The next day, he gives her the library and they’re friends (not judging – I’d be friends with the guy if he gave me a massive library like that too). I understand the movie was originally intended for children who wouldn’t understand the complexity of a slow transformation from enemies to friends to true love, but creators this time around have the opportunity to show audiences the real evolution Belle and the Beast go through as they begin falling in love with one another.