´The Beauty and the Beast´(2017) is a breathtaking beauty. Literally! And yet, the ironic message of the movie is that ´Beauty lies within´and not on the exterior. The message goes down pretty smoothly like a delicious grape flavoured cough syrup without making you feel choked and nauseous with this cliched moral of the story. As a movie spectator though, one cannot but help marvel at its external beauty.
The movie is a very simple, straight forward story grandiosely told. I loved the opulent costumes, the 'minutest-to-the-detail' setting, the breathtaking cinematography, the dreamy and lively song and dance sequences and the surreal performances. Emma Watson is the real star of the movie as the protagonist Bella herself. She embodies every virtue of Belle with élan - intelligence, dignity, class, confidence, innocence, grace, courage and kindness, of course beauty. Luke Evans as Gaston is delightful. He plays the cocky most eligible bachelor in the village with sheer finesse. He is strong, masculine and handsome yet off-putting with his cockiness, arrogance, narcissism, double faceted persona and sadistic nature. Josh Gad plays the interesting and much hyped character of the effeminate LeFou. He plays Gaston´s perfect side-kick with gay abandon. The Beast which has a royal prince trapped inside him is endearing. He is ghastly looking and yet exudes warmth and a heart-touching vulnerability that makes you want to protect him from the harsh judgments of the world. His nobility does not go unnoticed either with his strong bearing, chivalry and righteous character. He becomes every bit, yours ever-so-truly 'Prince Charming’ when he magically transforms back to his princely appearance. And what a handsome looking Prince Luke Evan makes - blue eyes, long blond hair et all! Together, Ella and her Prince make a beautiful, love-struck couple who have you rooting for them at every juncture, for them and their sparkling romance ever so pure, pristine and genuine.
This movie won me over completely. It is not easy to have an often repeated, done-to-death popular children's fairy tale as your cherry-pick offering to hold the viewer's interest. But interest, it sure did manage to retain from the very start to the finale' moment. And How! By staying as true and close as possible to its original classic fairy tale with a lot more interesting layers of depth. It was sheerly delightful and truly magical just like a fairy tale ought to be.
Now that we are done with the brief movie review, I will tell you why Bella from ´The Beauty and the Beast´(2017) is such a fantastic role model for everyone, especially children. It teaches both boys and girls the true meaning of beauty as opposed to the popular notion, the qualities to truly aspire for, seek out and appreciate in fellow human beings and finally, to be their true, genuine selves irrespective of whether they fit in or stand out. Here are the 9 reasons why I think Belle is amazing-
- Intelligent : One random day, my daughter comes up to me and says, ´Mummy, Do you know that diamonds are a girl´s best friend?´. And I reply, Absolute rubbish! Can diamonds listen to your feelings and talk to you? It is non-living rock. for God´s sake! Where did you learn this now?´ She replies, ´But Mummy, Barbie says that Diamonds are a girl´s best friends´. And I shoot back, ´Well then, your Barbie is dead wrong. A girl´s best friend is her mother. Period.´ Well, Bella takes it several notches higher. Books are her best friend She sets a great example for young girls in choosing books over diamonds or for that matter, any person as her best friend. She is innovative as she makes her life easier by inventing her own version of the washing machine to do her laundry so that she can utilise that time in reading books instead.
Make no mistake my friend, Belle is highly intelligent.
- Born to stand out and not fit in : In a village full of small-minded people, Belle is a woman far ahead of her time and place. So, quite naturally, she is the ´funny´, ´weird´, ódd one out´ because people don't understand or identify with her. Belle is not afraid to stand out and alone. In fact, she prefers it that way than being someone she is not and trying hard to blend and fit in somehow.
- Dignity personified : She has the village´s most eligible bachelor, Gaston literally salivating for her. But, she doesn't throw away her dignity for money, looks, name or fame like the many other beautiful girls in the village. Belle is dignity personified. While she despises him with all her heart, the girl politely tries to shoo him away every single time he makes a desperate attempt at getting her attention and love.
- Confidence : The scene where Belle goes right on top of a mountain and declares to the Universe that she is looking for much more than the cliche´ plans and expectations. The girl clearly has the guts to dream big, hailing from a small village and better still, have the confidence in achieving her dreams. This scene for me was highly reminiscent of ´The Sound of Music´s´ Maria who prances around the peaks of the Swiss alps in a similar fashion singing Í have confidence in me´.
- Fearless : Belle is proof that girls are not just sugar, sweet and spice but also nerves of steel. The girl does not think twice about getting locked in a dingy, dark castle with a hideous Beast. Better still, making valiant plans to escape from the dungeon quickly enough in to the deep dark woods in the night, chased by hungry wolves. She isn't fearful of speaking her mind - loud and clear. She is bold and sassy despite her dainty appearance.
- Classy : Belle is a classy woman. Period. It is not difficult to understand why Gaston falls ´head over heels´in love with her when he can have scores of beautiful women or men (Ahem!) vying for his attention. She doesn't throw herself for any man. She is self-assured, without feeling the incessant need to grab eyeballs or attention. She doesn't play mind games or try to make others feel jealous or inferior. She certainly doesn't put down others to make herself look or seem better. She is articulate and has depth in her thinking process and in her conversations. She is independent and can take care of herself where she goes. And the best part is she will not tolerate disrespect. She will not let any man walk all over her and disrespect her. She expects to be treated with equal respect and dignity in her relationships. And she is no trophy girlfriend or wife. At the same time, the lady is all about etiquette and manners - ´Please´and ´Thank You´s´. Why wouldn´t any one love her?
- Heart of gold : What makes Belle strikingly different from the rest of the women is her large heart. She is helpful, kind and her heart melts and feels for the downtrodden. She enjoys helping young girls develop a love for books and reading. Charity begins at home for her. While destiny played dirty and took away her mother, it compensated her with an immensely supportive and loving father. And she doesn't break her father´s confidence and trust. She loves her old father and helps him in every way possible. She wants to badly help Lumiere, Candelabra, Mrs. Potts and her boy and the Beast come out of the Enchantress´curse.
- Wonderful Life Partner : Belle doesn't fall in love for all the wrong reasons - looks, money or fame. She loves for all the right reasons and with both her mind and heart. It is certainly not love at first sight for her when she sees The Beast. She falls in love for his virtues when she slowly gets to know and discover him. She makes an understanding, affectionate, patient and supportive partner to The Beast and vice versa. She is extremely loyal keeping up her promise and returning to The Beast and saving her captive father.
- Beauty : She truly personifies the saying that Beauty lies within. She is beautiful Inside-Out and that is what is shining about her. Much like Helen of Troy or Cleopatra! Helen of Troy was not conventionally beautiful with the perfect features and yet she had men waging wars for her beauty. Cleopatra was in the same category. She was dark skinned yet. Like them, Belle is an unconventional beauty. Men fall in love with her inner beauty as much as her outer one. Even though she is the Beauty in the movie, you will find Belle in the most understated clothes. She doesn't sparkle with diamonds, expensive clothes or any of the exterior razzmatazz but with her shining inner beauty. Again, it takes one beautiful person to identify another one. Belle finds Beauty in her Beast and sees the Beast in the externally handsome Gaston. She sees beauty in the flaws. The Beast or the Prince is not perfect. He has a short temper and he is impulsive. But, he is a human after all and not the Beast he is made out to be. Belle sees the heart beyond all the external beastliness and flaws. And finds beauty within. Which the Prince failed to see in the enchantress disguised as a haggard old lady in the beginning of the movie.
´Mummy, I think the Enchantress was Belle´s mother´.
´No, Beta! I don´think so´.
´Then, she is surely the Prince´s mother.
´Ýeah! Maybe. But, why would she curse her own son?´
´Then Mummy, she must be...blah blah blah´
Disney, here's a big shout-out and thank you for restoring that old classic Disney charm and class in ‘The Beauty and the Beast'. There are so many tales to be retold to this new generation. Bring on some of that old world charm and magic all over again.
Finally, Yes, I do! I believe in fairy tales and happily ever afters!
(Please note the above image may be copyrighted.)
(This post was published at Women´s Web, http://www.womensweb.in/2017/03/why-emma-watson-as-belle-is-the-cool-new-feminist-icon/ and mycity4kids, https://www.mycity4kids.com/parenting/beauty-and-the-mom/article/9-reasons-why-emma-watson-s-belle-is-a-great-example-for-kids)