by A'Gia Alston
In March 1989, yours truly joined the Spring baby ranks. Mom knew from my appetite, lungs, and disdain for heat that she had someone special. By two years old, I could walk, talk somewhat, and I swore I could read. Something else happened in 1991 outside of my bookworm pride blossoming, Disney released Beauty and the Beast.
I have seen several Disney movies in my 28 years, but this one always had a place in my heart. I had the VHS, two different Belle collectible dolls-- Christmas and Ball-- and a Beast doll that allowed you to transform him into the Prince by removing the mask, tail, and paws. In my late middle school years, I would reenact "Be Our Guest" for my baby cousins and they were awed-- a one woman Broadway show for about five minutes. The live action remake worried and excited me, but I had to see it.
Blessed be the Enchantress that I did. WARNING: SOME SPOILERS AHEAD
I appreciated Beauty and the Beast (1991) because Belle was not your usual female protagonist-- or woman in general for that matter. I could not identify this reasoning as a child, but I felt it. Her character is defined by her choice to go against all society's norms for her time. She rarely wears make up, loves books, had an exemplary intellect, wanted adventure, and did not need a companion to make herself feel better. The older I got, the more I could empathize with her character because I felt like an outsider growing up too.
The 2017 remake made me laugh, cry, sing, and once again remember why I truly adore her character. Watching her assist her father, Maurice, reminded me of finishing my mother's sentences as a child. When she decided to design the first horse-powered washing machine, I could recall building camcorders out of Kleenex boxes, paper towel rolls, and saran wrap. Despite all the bestiality jokes we noticed later, Belle was a true, strong-spirited individual and I applaud Emma being cast for the role; Hermoine Granger already showed us she could tame beasts and teach others the benefit of education and ingenuity.
|Childhood 26 years later looks like this|
Disney deserves a standing ovation for this. Everyone is hemming and hawing about what they perceive as a same-sex scene, a country outright said they would only allow the theatrical release if said scene were removed, and I am sitting here cackling like Witch Hazel (yes, that Witch Hazel) as Disney basically flips the bird to stereotypes, society's expectations, and, in a way, Walt Disney himself! As I explained to a friend via social media, Beauty and the Beast (2017) has a brown-skinned librarian in, what we can safely presume is late 17th century France, interracial couples, same-sex romantic implications akin to the end of Avatar: the Legend of Korra, and a woman telling a man "No" in, again, 17TH CENTURY FRANCE.
The animation giant also did something that few remakes ever attempt to do: address plot holes and risk making changes. I will not go in depth here to preserve the sanctity of excitement, but if you watch the original as often as I did, you should have had questions about Belle's background and the Prince (because "[he] is not a Beast"). The remake fills in these gaps and reminds us why sometimes our memories of the past can mean more to us than the reality of our past.
If you do not watch the remake for any other reason, go for the ending-- not the ending you already know, but the climax leading up to it. The last computer graphic animation that made me cry like this was Tidus dying in Final Fantasy X.
Young or old, the Beauty and the Beast remake introduced several generations to a "...tale as old as time..." and demonstrates that who we love is just as much our choice as who we are.
Until Later Guys,
For your listening pleasure: "Beauty and the Beast" song by Peabo Bryson and Celine Dion
Wondering how I assessed the era? Brush up on gun history & Gaston's Blunderbuss:
PBS Gun Timeline
History of the Blunderbuss