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CITY PRESS REVIEW: Beauty and the Beast

2017-04-16 07:13

Johannesburg - A fairy tale is indeed “a tale as old as time”. A time out of step with what people – particularly young girls – want in stories. Love stories of yore lacked female protagonists with free will and a sense of self that wasn’t tied up with princes and marriage. Or, as my daughter puts it: these princesses are boring; they don’t do anything. Cinderella and Snow White, for example, dreamt of attending parties and doing housework.

Enter Belle in 1991’s animated Beauty and the Beast, who liked to read books and thought the hottest guy in town was a vacuous idiot. From this point on the princesses only get better – loopholes are found in marriage contracts (Merida), they get to be the mistresses of their own fate (Elsa) and, by the time we get to last year’s brilliant Moana, there isn’t a prince in sight as she fulfils her destiny.

While the recent live action version of Cinderella was a simpering mess of ball gowns and princes, this version of Beauty and the Beast is monstrously good. The screenplay is as glorious as that of Maleficent, which refreshingly told the bad fairy’s story.

Emma Watson, previously Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter franchise, is Belle, while Dan Stevens, of Downton Abbey, is Beast. Luke Evans is the narcissistic Gaston, who believes Belle should marry him because he’s handsome and she’s pretty.

If you remember, there was a storm in Mrs Potts’ teacup about a “gay” moment. I missed it entirely during the movie and had to have it explained to me; you need to be homophobic to even notice.

Beauty and the Beast is meticulously created to be a magical experience. The music stands the test of time, there’s lots of humour, a love story built on conversation and mutual respect, and Oscar-quality costumes and make-up.

READ NEXT: Channel24 reviews The Beauty and the Beast

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