Okay, I love a good impossible fantasy-type love story as much as the next guy, but honestly, Disney may be pushing my credulity just a little too far. This weekend I stood in a chilly line outside the movie theater so that I could get in to the latest version of Beauty and the Beast. However, there were a few questions that entered my cynical mind while I was watching.
For a girl who is looked down on by the town, everyone seemed to know her. They greeted her in a friendly manner, asked about her activities and her day and though I saw little or nothing unusual about her there, the townspeople broke into song about how odd she was. I don’t find it odd that she read books and avoided Gaston whenever possible, but the fact that all she wants her father to bring her back from the market is a rose…now that’s odd.
Then there was the issue of the castle. I could take that it was winter all the time. I could even accept that it was surrounded by wolves. Even a crabby beast lurking in the shadows would be creepy but not too far out. But the second the candlestick invited me to dinner and my tea cup started talking, I’d have been out of there. Eaten by a wolf? Much better than having a conversation with your singing dresser drawers!
Beyond that is the interesting question of the looks of the key characters. We are asked to believe that the gift of a library and a snowball fight was all it took to make Belle overlook the fact that the object of her affection was a character who looked like a cross between a raging bull and Lucifer himself. Even that may be credible, but a union between a human and this “beast” would have been difficult to sustain. Would they live in the cold castle filled with creepy talking furnishings or would they go and live in the village where people already described Belle as odd?
Looks were a key consideration throughout the movie, but I couldn’t help wondering about the reverse question: What would have happened if Belle had been the beast and the prince was expected to fall in love with her anyway? Now, you have to admit there are many more stories out there where beautiful girls marry less than perfect looking, but wonderful men, than beautiful men who marry girls without looks.
A cynic (and I sometimes am one) might suspect that Belle took a look at the giant and ornate castle and its fine accoutrements and decided she could overlook a furry physique and a couple of horns for a lavish lifestyle. I prefer the romantic point of view, however; I think Belle falling for a horrific beast who then turned into her Prince Charming is very romantic—if not very believable.
Lastly, I don’t want to leave out the mob in the “small provincial town.” Shakespeare seemed always to write his plays with utter contempt for the fickle and clueless mob. This story takes up that issue as well. The mobs follow Gaston when he locks up Maurice for suggesting that there is a monster and then just as faithfully follow him along when he decides that not only is there a monster, but they must kill it. This makes the mob even more stupid than Gaston and twice as gullible!
Okay, I guess this is the last of my questions, but as for the movie of Beauty and the Beast, I really did enjoy it. I spent the days after I went to the movie singing the songs and dancing around the house with sheets draped around me like Belle’s dress and holding conversations with my kitchenware…but don’t worry, nothing has so far talked back! Have a great week and go and see Beauty and the Beast for a fantasy treat!
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