This was supposed to be a full-blown Beauty and the Beast (2017) review, but I think I should focus on the one thing that I’ve consistently been raving about to all my friends. This dweeb:
And before I get into it, be warned: THIS POST WILL BE FULL OF SPOILERS!
I’ve seen the original animated film more times than I can count, I’ve watched the musical play, and I’ve just seen the 2017 live action movie. Beast’s characterization varies between the three, and I have been telling everyone that the 2017 version of Beast is now my personal favorite for a couple of reasons.
Beast is still temperamental, but less childish.
Sure, Beast’s temper is really part of his character no matter which incarnation we’re talking about. The animated film had him roaring things like “THEN GO AHEAD AND STARVE” at Belle’s bedroom door, and the play had him jumping up and down and stamping his feet like a toddler throwing a tantrum:
I guess this had a lot to do with him being a child when he was cursed. And that’s why I really appreciate how the 2017 movie showed the prince being cursed by the Enchantress for being a selfish adult monarch who overtaxed his people as opposed to punishing him for simply being a bratty little boy.
Beast is an educated, well-read smartass.
In the original film, Beast has forgotten how to read, and he absolutely hated receiving a storybook for Christmas as a child in the direct-to-video Enchanted Christmas. In the play, it’s pretty much the same story – Beast claims to have only learned how to read “a little”, and then Belle attempts to help him learn how to read again.
In the 2017 version, he surprises Belle by finishing her sentence as she quoted Shakespeare, and telling her that he “had an expensive education”. Then he judges her for saying that Romeo and Juliet is her favorite play, going so far as to make faces and disgusted noises while talking about it. THEN, seemingly exasperated by her terrible taste in books, he takes her to the library just to prove that there are better things to read. This is actually a nice departure from what happened in the film and play, where Beast just “gives” Belle the library to impress her.
While Belle is still smart in this movie, she’s only had access to one shelf of books in the village. Beast, on the other hand, seems to have read every book in his massive, dreamy, magical, I-need-this-in-my-life library.
He also demonstrates his wit and sense of humor throughout the movie, starting with his quip (humble-brag?) about not having read all of the books in his library’s books because they’re written in Greek.
Beast’s relationship with Belle runs deeper in this movie.
In the original film and the play, Beast falls for Belle because of her kindness. After patching him up when he saves her from the wolves, he says (at least in the film): “I’ve never felt this way about anyone,” and proceeds to wonder what he can do for her.
In the 2017 version, we see the gradual build-up of his feelings for her, starting when he brings her to the library. Remember: he brought her to the library simply to prove a point. But when Belle stares up at all the books and says how wonderful it all is, he suddenly pauses and starts to see the library in a new, appreciative light.
In a later scene, while walking with Belle (who was reading William Sharp’s A Crystal Forest to him out loud), Beast suddenly stops as they’re crossing a bridge, saying that it was strange how it felt like he was seeing the beauty of the frozen lake for the first time.
It isn’t just Belle’s kindness that makes him have feelings for her – it’s also the way she unintentionally teaches him to appreciate the beauty in the things around him.
There’s also an absolutely heartwarming moment where they realize that they both feel like lonely in places that are supposed to be their home…and I think this is really where they start finding solace and comfort in each other.
To be clear, the new-and-improved Beast isn’t the only good thing about the new film. The original animated film will always be a classic, but the character and plot changes in the 2017 version definitely made me fall in love with this tale as old as time all over again.