As planned for months, three friends and I finally went to see Beauty and the Beast yesterday. At the time of writing, it is the morning after and I am still daydreaming about the music, the classic story and That Dress (well, not that dress. The very last beautiful and timeless dress that had my friends and I recreating the heart emoji face.) Disney (understandably) gets told off for some of its unrealistic characters that lack diversity. Emma Watson, however, played a brilliantly important Belle and that should be celebrated.
Of course, I must approach this – even if just for a little while – with my feminist goggles on. It’s not necessary to expierience art with this kind of perspective, but as Emma Watson is one of my absolute icons in terms of feminism, I’d quite like to. Emma Watson brings such a fresh portrayal of Belle to the big screen. She’s brilliantly feisty; she’s unapologetically inquisitive; she says no to ugly (Gaston’s ridiculousness and the Beast’s controlling, nasty ways). She’s unafraid of her frowned-upon love of reading and she laughs in the face of Gaston so awesomely. I cannot remember the quote for the life of me, but at the beginning of the film, she bites back at Gaston’s ignorance with a feminist line that made me want to stand up and clap.
I have recently realised how feminism is so closely linked with choice; the words are almost synonymous. Beauty and the Beast encapsulates this very idea in so many ways. Belle has never fitted the mould- the villager’s mould. It’s why we’ve always loved her. She chooses to read (*gasp* a girl reading), to want more and to question why. She chooses to be who she wants to be- not who everyone else wants her to be. Although sometimes her vulnerability shows (she doesn’t understand why she is supposedly “odd” and “strange”), we love her all the more for it. She’s normal. I recently wrote a post about why women in film aren’t supposed to be perfect and Belle’s confusion and feeling of being an outsider creates a relatable character.
Since reading something Emma Watson said, I have had many thoughts about Belle being a victim of Stockholm Syndrome- falling in love with her capture in a less romantic kind of way than we like to see Belle and the Beast’s story. A few years ago I read an excellent book called Stolen by Lucy Christopher which tackles this very idea. After reading Emma Watson’s comments, my unwavering support of one of my OTPs, Belle and the Beast, wavered. Emma Watson’s portrayal of Belle is stubborn (an admirable flaw in this story- a flaw I like to showcase myself), ready to fight and challenges what she is told to do. She’s a grown up toddler, essentially. I joke, but she really does kick butt and I feel so more at ease at one of our favourite love stories. She doesn’t give in easily and her father is always at the forefront of her mind. She doesn’t easily fall for the Beast and she most certainly doesn’t fall for the selfish Beast we are first presented with.
2017’s live action Beauty and the Beast is everything I hoped for. Belle is loyal and Gaston is ridiculous. LeFou is silly and Maurice is lovely. ALL of the new additions to the film (no spoilers) gave me the Disney tingles and the music threw me back to my childhood Disney experiences. All of the references made Alissa and I fangirl up. I definitely recommend going to see it at the cinema while it’s still there. With classic Disney action, tied up with awesome characters and one-liners that you can only giggle at, I do think this version is one for everybody. A tale as old of time and a tale I will always reach for.
~ Kat ~