For all us 90s kids, Beauty and the Beast was surely a classic of our time. I remember watching this movie religiously almost every day, with my eyes glued to the screen- enjoying the talking tea cups, candle stands and pianos- spending endless anxious minutes each time hoping Belle would escape the evil beast’s castle safely.
If you were a Beauty and the Beast fan growing up, I would definitely recommend watching the new movie. Emma Watson is able to play the part of Belle to the tee, capturing the essence of who she really is, a beautiful girl whose thinking is far ahead of her time- a complete bookworm who sticks out like a sore thumb in the old fashioned village she lives in- yet her dreamy thoughts and unique personality is what makes her so appealing to those around her. An inspiration for all women, the strong, independent girl who stands out from the typical girls just looking out for a handsome young man to woo her, instead she goes for the adventure, the challenge and in return gains something out of the ordinary.
This movie touches on a lot of topics which are close to our hearts- growing up in a society like Pakistan, where women are discouraged to seek higher education and to make a career for themselves- similarly in the movie we see Belle is discouraged from reading and teaching other girls in the village to read. Belle thought ahead of her time, she thought further than the small town she grew up in- in which case all the others in her society frowned upon her and referred to her as “funny”, but not in a good way.
Belle also refuses to find a suitor in her small village. She refuses to settle for anyone less than who meets her level of intellect- who can dream as big as her, who can escape into a different world with her. Everyone else in her village finds this notion of hers absolutely absurd. How can she not want to get married to the most suitable guy in village? Gaston- he is well established by their standard and can provide her the security and status she needs in the village incase her father is no longer there to take care of her. Does this sound familiar? Sounds a lot like the society we live in, except a million years later where girls are still expected to get married to make a name for themselves- where being alone is frowned upon. So what if the man doesn’t have a high intellectual level to fulfill the girls needs. Who needs that? As long as she is married to a suitor who looks good on paper, who cares about her emotional needs. I found it hilarious to see how all the girls in the village all surround Gaston, dressed up with full makeup on- begging for his attention. Again, reminds me of shaadi season in Pakistan, where the girls wear their finest clothes, jewelry and shoes, whip out their most expensive handbags- the salons are flooding with girls who need blow-dries and fake eyelashes put on- all for a night out to find the perfect match. What is refreshing to see is that there are girls like Belle out there who want to break this status quo. She isn’t afraid of being alone for the rest of her life- she is waiting for her soul mate, the right person her soul connects with- not just anyone for the sake of desperation or convenience.
When Belle meets the beast, it is most unexpected that she would fall in love with him. First off, he’s a beast, and second of all, he’s kept her locked in his castle- taken away her freedom, her right to see her father and her ties with the outside world. How could anyone possibly love someone who did this to them? When the beast asks Belle if she could ever be happy in the castle, Belle replies who can ever be happy if they are not free? These words hold a deeper meaning to many girls who can relate. It’s true, how can one be happy when they are a prisoner. It’s when the beast shows Belle love and compassion and gives her freedom and kindness, that she falls in love with him and the spell is broken.
Overall, I would give the movie a ten on ten. But then again, I am a complete sucker for romance and love. The music and graphics made me feel like I was re-living our childhood. I really enjoyed how the film touched on some great social issues, such as those of women’s oppression and breaking stereotypes and the status quoi. Life isn’t a fairytale- prince charming does not always save the day- but what I enjoyed most about this movie was escaping into the fairytale- into a magical land with the talking teacups and candle stands- in a world of happy endings- in the world of Walt Disney.