Thursday, March 30, 2017

... in the Eye of the Beholder

by Stacey Fearheiley

“OMG! Have you seen Beauty and the Beast?” I was very excited to be able to answer that with a “YES”! But that is where the capital lettered responses end.

Yes, I saw B&tB. Yes, it was very were the actors. Yes, everyone sang well. The effects were amazing.

 “But did you love it?” “ummmm….no?”

 “Did you LIKE it?” I have to think for a minute before I answer, “yes.” I’ll tell you why.

First I want to explain that I was VERY psyched to see this version. I love fairy tales, all versions. I have a collection of fairy tale books and movies. For the first several seasons I was ALL up into Once Upon a Time and Grimm on teevee. So, this live action version was right up my alley. Especially with the cast attached! Dear God, Emma Thompson, Ewan MacGregor, Ian McKellan, blonde-guy-who-died-early-in-Downton-Abbey and Hermione Granger. What’s not to love?

Here’s the thing….friends were telling me they had issues with the idea of a live action B&tB because of the bestiality issue. I poo-poohed them. "C’mon," I’d say, "they don’t even kiss until he’s a guy and the story is an allegory about seeing beneath the veneer of a person to their soul and who they really are."  That’s what I said. And I believed it. Until I was faced with Hermione holding hands, dancing, and sharing longing looks with a big bull/bear/lion thing with a tail. That’s when my bravado fell away a bit.

As each scene moved through the titled song’s montage, it felt creepier and creepier. Logically I got it, but damn if I wasn’t ooged out near the end. My teenage daughter and I would look at each other and cringe.

Frankly, though…that was the worst part. Other than that, I enjoyed the show. It was really well done. Interestingly enough, the story veered from the Disney animated B&tB and actually pulled bits from the original story and Jean Cocteau’s Belle et un Bête from 1946. I really liked that. The relationship between the father (Kevin Kline) and Belle was more fleshed out (no pun intended) and explained why there was no mother. (Why is it that mothers are always the parents to die in these things??!! That’s another blog for another time.)

As stated, all performances were lovely. The settings, the songs, the costumes … all wonderful. Will little girls love it as much as the animated version? Not sure…but they WILL love it. Will YOU like it as much?

Can’t say. I liked it enough to say that I’m not afraid of live action versions of more animated stories, BUT, it may behoove producers to take into account that live actors doing what animation has previously done changes the tone and look of a movie…making what is CLEARLY never going to happen or be threatening, to something that may be uncomfortable to visualize happening in real life. 

That said … I’m a little concerned about the genie in Aladdin. And the monkey. And the tiger. And the rug. Well ... you get the picture.

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