“It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness.” –Leo Tolstoy
Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast hit the cinemas roughly a week ago now, and, if you are one of the very few people in the world (at least judging from the box office receipts) who hasn’t seen it, you should go now. I’ll wait!
(Hums “Tale as old as time,” etc., etc…)
Wasn’t that spectacular? It is beautifully constructed, beautifully acted, the music is everything you hoped that it would be, and, with apologies to Lumiere, Emma Watson is incandescent as Belle. While I loved Maleficent, Disney’s 2014 retelling of Sleeping Beauty, in my opinion this is a much better all-around film. And, in some ways, it might be best if we were to leave our analysis of Beauty and the Beast there.
Unfortunately, the commentary surrounding the film, both from outside and from behind the scenes, has not restricted itself to the music and the costumes and the beautiful people inhabiting the roles. Instead, and for the first time I can recall, we have had an active debate between the media and the film’s principal star, Emma Watson, about the underlying morals and values of the story, and whether the relationship between Beauty and the Beast is dysfunctional.