By Daniella Dahoui
This is the most recent adaptation of the French fairy tale "Beauty and the Beast".
Like the original story, a rich merchant becomes bankrupt, so... more
he and his family are forced to move to the countryside. Belle is one of three daughters, and is the most beautiful and humble of them. One day, where the merchant sets off to recover their fortune, the two spoiled daughters asks for riches, while Belle only asks for a rose. Soon, the merchant stumbles across the Beast's castle. After stealing a single rose, the Beast sentences him to death, and forces him to come back once he's given the present to his daughter. Belle, feeling responsible, decides to go to the castle in her father's place. Instead of death, however, she becomes a prisoner in a strange yet magical place and learns about the Beast and his situation.
There have been two other famous adaptations of the tale. The first was the 1946 classic directed by Jean Cocteau, and the other is the 1991 Disney animated musical (also a cinematic classic). The Disney version is still one of my favorite films and my favourite adaptation of this tale, though I also admire the very poetic style and atmosphere of the 1946 version. This Franco-German film is more an adaptation of the original story than a remake of Cocteau's work, but it pays homage to it, like the dining scene where Belle meets the Beast for the first time.
Lea Seydoux plays a very endearing Belle. In the story, she's happy that their fortune got lost, because the rich lifestyle felt like a prison to her, and the countryside represented a new life for them. She demonstrates great kindness and courage, and I think she was very well cast. There was also the Beast played by Vincent Cassel. He was more seen in his human form, as we find out about his past. His backstory added an interesting angle to the tale. The only true complaint I have is that the romance wasn't as developed or as established as the other adaptations, and I wish we had more interactions with the two leads to really feel a love growing between them. I understand how the Beast's past is revealed to Belle in her dreams, but I think there could have been a tad more.
Other than that, I do like how the ugliness in this story is more a representation of greed than just pride and superficiality. Beauty is represented by our love and respect towards people and nature. It's not wrong to be rich, unless you let greed and pride get in the way of your judgement and attitude towards others. And like all famous love stories, true love conquers all.
This is a good adaptation of "Beauty and the Beast". Not up to par with the other two cinematic adaptations, but the story is good, and the visuals are still beautiful and fairy tale-like (with the exception of the animal creatures in the castle who looked a bit weird). But overall, I say go watch it.
DIRECTOR: Christophe Gans
SCREENPLAY: Christophe Gans & Sandra Vo-Anh
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