Photo by Walt Disney Studios
After a lot of deliberation, discussion and uncertainty, I finally decided to give the new Beauty and the Beast film a try. I had watched the trailers unimpressed and felt quite dubious as to whether Emma Watson could do the role of Belle justice. Yet after hearing lots of good reviews, my husband, daughter Brianna and I went to see it yesterday afternoon.
Despite the fact that we went on a Saturday afternoon during Easter weekend (what was I thinking?!), and despite the children sitting directly behind us banging our chairs occasionally, we absolutely loved it. More than loved it–we were all very emotionally moved.
I hate to admit it but Emma Watson was great as Belle. Emma’s Belle was young, sweet and fearless–a girl with hopes, dreams AND sense. The set, costumes and song numbers were dazzling….sometimes maybe a bit too dazzling. The acting of all the cast was superb. Kevin Kline as Belle’s father was especially endearing. The CGI of the beast’s face and expressions were exceptionally well done.
I don’t want to give too much away, but for me one of the highlights is that it’s mainly a live copy of the original but with added new songs and subtle twists.
This brings me to the one scene I want to share as it is Easter.
::::::::::::::::::Spoiler alert! Stop reading if you haven’t seen the film!:::::::::::::::::::::::
In one scene of the film, Mrs Potts expresses to Belle that in her opinion they are all to blame for the Prince’s downfall. She tells Belle that he had been a small boy when his mother died. His father was not a noble character and he raised the boy to be just like him. Mrs Potts regrets that she and the other servants allowed that to happen. This explains why the Enchantress chose to include them all in the curse.
Later, near the very end of the scene, the beast, having been shot by Gaston lies dying. Unlike the animated version, the last petal falls and turns to ash before Belle declares her love. The inhabitants of the castle: Lumiere, Cogsworth, Mrs Potts all become inanimate objects. The beast dies. It looks as if Belle has declared her love for the beast too late to save him. However, Agatha (the hag/enchantress) is there looking on and she has overheard Belle. She restores the rose and shows mercy by lifting the curse and restoring everyone to their former (but now redemptive selves) and allowing the beast to live again.
Perhaps the scene was never meant to be an allegorical message of atonement, salvation and unconditional love. It was probably just a coincidence that the movie came out a month before Easter and that the well-known scene had been subtly yet powerfully changed. Although I’d be interested to know why the change was made, at this moment it doesn’t matter. For now, I want to just feel the magic.
On this Easter day, I want to embrace the deeper magic–the message that even onto death, God’s love and mercy is never too late.