My childhood was very shaped by Disney. During the ‘90s, Disney had an incredible boom in animated movies. “Beauty and the Beast” was released and became an instant classic. It seemed like I watched “Beauty and the Beast” over and over again. I loved Belle’s beauty and independence, her kind heart, brave nature and ability to love the Beast beyond his physical appearance.
Despite later seeing some connections to subtle racism within the plot of the movie, my childhood innocence took the meaning of the movie to be inspired and lovely, affirming women’s intelligence and the possibility of true love.
In my four-year-old mind and for many years after, it really did seem like the most beautiful love story every told. The animation was incredible, too! I loved the detail in Mrs. Potts, Lumiere, Chip and Cogsworth. Perhaps it was the combination of hand drawn and computer generated animation, but the characters seemed larger than life, and the fairy tale story of a smart, bookish girl from France seemed in many senses, like it could be apart of my story too.
The second weekend the new “Beauty and the Beast” released in theaters, my brother Hallerin and I made plans to see the movie. I met him in Nashville, we went to dinner, and then rushed to the movie theatre to see a remake of something that was such a huge influence in our childhood.
The film opened with Emma Watson singing “Belle.” I was disappointed with the singing almost immediately. It sounded heavily corrected and edited, and it felt as if the purity of singing was was lost in computer correction and auto-tune.
I was already pouting in the theater, but I tried to see the rest of the film through. I must be honest in saying that my disappointment only continued. The Beast’s castle was incredibly animated, but seemed overly detailed. I will confess that my brother and I choose to go and get ice cream after the movie, so we opted out of the 3-D experience, but the graphics still seem fuzzily ornate.
When Mrs. Potts and Chip made their screen debut, I could barely make out any of their facial features! They didn’t seem to pop, and for the millions of dollars spent in production of the film, I felt like many of the characters were lost within the ornate embellishments of other graphics in the film.
I left “Beauty and the Beast” unconnected with the love story of Belle and the Beast. It seemed awkward and inauthentic. I left wishing a remake was never attempted. After more pondering, I am now in a place to admit that I came into the viewing of the 2017 “Beauty and the Beast” with a lot of bias and expectation.
My whole childhood influenced my hopes for the film. However, I stand firm with my disappointment and am prepared to say goodbye to “Beauty and Beast” in its new form and accept my disappointment. I will always be partial to the 1991 version of “Beauty and the Beast” and am being shaped into a person who affirms the idea that some things are better left unchanged.