Adaptations are hard. There’s been a recent surge of live-action adaptations of Disney’s animated films. They kind of range between passable but awful, but what I’ve liked most about them is that there’s an effort to actually make them very different from their animated counterparts.
Alice in Wonderland was the first of these, deciding to turn the deliberate nonsense of Wonderland into a Lord of the Rings-style combat fantasy, and this was terrible and that film is unwatchably bad. Maleficent chose to focus the movie on the antagonist of Sleeping Beauty, and while it’s not as terrible, it’s still pretty bad because they don’t really capitalise on the idea and double down by making their titular character a woman scorned in a really tonally jarring and off mutilation scene. Sleeping Beauty was…boring, but it removed the anthropomorphised animals and gave the Prince and his father a rather sizeable subplot. The Jungle Book actually changed most of the story structure and stakes, and even changed the ending, and because of this and its noteworthy effects it’s easily the best of these remakes. I also want to give a shoutout to Pete’s Dragon, which is just a straight remake with the animated bits swapped out for CG, for taking a pretty awkward and tonally fucked attempt at making the Mary Poppins lightning strike twice at a time the company was going under, and completely changed the story outside of the basic premise of a boy having a pet dragon, and frankly it’s all the better for it.
Beauty and the Beast has gotten this treatment as well, and it’s nearly a shot-for-shot remake of the 1991 film. Which I think most people would know would happen, because that one is sanctified by the current generation of ticket buyers (also young parents) who would care about fidelity more than the much older films being adapted. And I’ll just throw it out there: at best, it’s fine. The additional half hour makes what was a pretty breezy watch really drag for no real reason and there is some stupid shit in there, but for the most part it delivers pretty much what it promises. But it’s beat-for-beat the animated movie, with some cosmetic changes. So let’s talk about those!
In my character study of Belle, I mentioned the stuff this movie changed things to…*cough* “fix” its predecessor in really unnecessary ways. Essentially the ‘everything that seems stupid to me is a flaw in the movie’ crowd, which is definitely the target demographic a company that always aims for mass appeal should be aiming at. CinemaSins are now Disney’s test audience. Since I love nothing more than being a nitpicking asshole who looks into family entertainment way too much, I thought I’d look into this and see if these changes worked or not.
A few things of note: I will be talking about more than just ‘BELLE’S GOT STOCKHOLM SYNDROME, SHE DOESN’T DO ANYTHING EVEN THOUGH THAT’S NOT ACTUALLY TRUE AND HER AGENCY DOES IN FACT LEAD TO A PRETTY BIG PLOT POINT, BUT WHATEVER!!!!!’. Changes they made to some of the supporting characters and subplots and backstory added will also be noted. And I won’t be doing EVERY change-stuff like dialogue tweaks and song rearrangements* are a-plenty here, just story and character threads that got altered either to modernise the story or ‘fix’ certain things.
*Though if you really care: I liked the percussion they added to Belle of people reacting to how she dozily walks around, though Emma Watson is not that strong a singer, the reprise kind of makes the Sound of Music homage underwhelming and her reaction to ‘His little wife’ is way funnier in the animated movie, but it’s fine beside, Be Our Guest is gratingly annoying and seriously shows how wonky the effects are, Gaston is elevated by how well Josh Gad and Luke Evans perform it, but it kind of falters at the end for the sake of a joke, Something There is almost identical to its predecessor though it’s fun to see the Beast throw that giant snowball, Beauty and the Beast sadly falters as the camera work isn’t as dynamic and, wonderful that she is, Emma Watson cannot match Angela Lansbury’s vocals here, and Kill the Beast throws in a nice little change to elevate LeFou’s arc, but otherwise it’s the same
Anyway, let’s get going! Starting with how the movie opens!
CHANGE: THE PROLOGUE! The quick approx. 5-minute opening explaining the curse, what happened to The Beast and his servants, and how it can be broken, is replaced by actually showing them at a ballroom dance, we see just how cruelly the Beast treated the Enchantress.
VERDICT: I don’t really care for this, as the prologue in the original was short, sweet, simple and showed off the stellar animation in a mosaic style not in the rest of the film. It adds to the kind of fairytale feel to the story, whereas here it’s people dressed in period-appropriate aristocratic costume garb. This is also done to make The Beast not a child, where he had to be, at best, 11 when he refused the Enchantress invitation to his house. This never bothered me, as it fit well with the fairytale logic, and the Enchantress was probably a dick. This annoys some people though, so c’est la vie. Finally, I wish we didn’t get to see the characters before they changed. While they’re distorted by using make-up, part of the joy in the 91 version was seeing all of them as human when they changed. It’s what makes seeing The Beast as human so jarring. I think it takes from that moment slightly.
CHANGE: THE TRINKETS! It’s implied visually that The Beast’s servants who were transformed took the form of various special artifacts and trinkets he had collected. They are also a lot less living objects in this movie-only a handful of the servants were turned. No such distinctions were made in the original.
VERDICT: Honestly it’s a nice touch to try to punish the Beast for his vanity and selfishness. Taking these objects he overly valued and turning them into the people he has damned. While it’s to answer another stupid internet ‘observation’ (ARE ALL THE HOUSEHOLD OBJECTS ALIVE?! THE BEAST MUST HAVE HAD THOUSANDS OF SERVANTS LOLOLOLOLOLO!!!!!!), it’s a subtle character thing that’s not overstated by the narrative. I’m cool with it.
CHANGE: THE SERVANTS! So we get a new character, Maestro Candenza, who is the husband of the Wardrobe and gets turned into a harpsichord. The Wardrobe gets a slight personality alteration, named Madame de Garderobe and is prone to narcolepsy. The Feather Duster has a slightly beefed up role and named Plumette, and Chip is aged slightly and his personality is fitted to meet his older age. The rest of the characterisation remains relatively intact
VERDICT: Nothing really that major to report, just felt it was a significant enough change to mention. The Castle’s servants remain true to their characterisation and function in the story, and the additions of Candenza and change to The Wardrobe don’t really add or detract. I found Cogsworth to be a little more grating here than in the animated film, which is odd because watching them back-to-back they’re essentially the same character. I guess I just found his cowardly impotence and haughty self-importance funnier in the animated version than in live-action, but nothing of the character really changes outside of him having a wife now. Lumière and Mrs Potts are basically the same characters. I also guess with Candenza that means Tim Curry’s character doesn’t exist. As well as Belle’s Enchanted Christmas. Ooooooooh deeeeeeeeear…
CHANGE: ENCHANTED MEMORIES! The Enchantress’ spell made it so that the nearby village don’t remember The Beast, his damned servants or even the castle itself. This is not at all in the original.
VERDICT: Again, something put in to ‘answer’ a stupid observation people call a plot hole, but it’s a minor thing and it adds with the logic of the curse. He’s a horrible person, and should be cut off from human contact as much as possible, got it. I mean, it still doesn’t change the fact that THERE’S A HONKING BIG CASTLE IN HORSE RIDE DISTANCE OF THESE PEOPLE, but I guess they literally could not explain that away without their not being a movie, so…
CHANGE: MRS POTTS AND CHIP! The ’91 version implies that the rest of the cups in the house are Mrs Potts other children, and only Chip has any character in the story. There are a lot of cups is the gist of this point. The film clearly establishes that Chip is her only child, with the fact that they are put in the collectibles.
VERDICT: I honestly think it’s kind of hilarious that a teapot managed to give birth to, like, 20 or 30 cups personally. Again, one of those things that bothers people that I can willingly overlook outside of a funny bit. I doubt people took this one AS seriously as the others, but Disney must have thought so considering they go out of their way to show that Chip is Mrs Potts only child.
CHANGE: TIME PERIOD! The movie being set in 17th Century France is more emphasised here, with jokes about illiteracy, Gaston using a crossbow instead of a musket, the garb at the costume ball in the opening, and the poverty being more deliberately contrasted with The Beast’s affluence
VERDICT: This is hit-or-miss for me. it does lead to some funny ideas/moments, but there’s a universality to Disney’s older movies where the time period their stories are set in doesn’t limit them to an excessive degree, it adds to their timelessness. Though, in fairness, they play hard and fast with that rule in a *lot* of their movies, especially if the movie is set in the then-contemporary time period, so it’s not a deal breaker. There is some decent attention to detail paid to the script here.
CHANGE: LIBRARY! When Belle goes to the library in the ’91 version, it’s full of books. In this one, there’s barely a dozen there.
VERDICT: Very nice change. Adds to Belle’s want to escape and makes more sense in a town that’s essentially illiterate.
CHANGE: GASTON THE WAR HERO! Gaston and LeFou are old war buddies from an unspecified conflict in the 2017 version. No such connection is ever hinted at in the ’91 flick, LeFou is just a suck-up lackey.
VERDICT: So I initially thought they were implying that Gaston was traumatised by his experiences in the war and it’s why he acts so horribly, which really bothered me because there doesn’t really need to be a deeper reason for him to be who he is. He’s just a spoiled, pampered and adorned-upon bully whose inability to get what he wants breaks down his facade until all that’s left is a monster. Then, on my rewatch for this post, I picked up a bit where LeFou calms him down by REMINDING HIM of the war, and I gotta give it to them, that’s a pretty hilarious inversion. That’s a really funny play on expectations. As it stands, it just seems to be there to deepen his relationship with LeFou, which leads us to our next, more major change:
CHANGE: LE FOU! In the ’91 version, LeFou is Gaston’s long-suffering lackey and personal suck up. That’s it, nothing much deeper about him. His role is beefed up significantly in the 2017 version, him and Gaston are way closer friends with a more legitimate bond, LeFou is more foppish and theatrical than his animated counterpart who’s just a toady stooge, and is implied to have an unrequited crush on Gaston, causing an arc to remove his idealised perspective of him and realise the guy’s a prick. LeFou is a bit more self-aware of what an ass his ‘friend’ is in the animated movie
VERDICT: So, if I’m honest, I’m a bit torn on this one, and it’s more to do with the broader themes of the story. At it’s heart, Beauty and the Beast is about overcoming the negative aspects of yourself and discovering the kindness in your heart. It’s why Belle is so uninvolved in the larger thematic arc compared to The Beast and Gaston, because she’s already kind-hearted, but that’s beside the point. Offsetting The Beast discovering his humanity is Gaston losing his, partially because the townspeople keep feeding his ego. It’s a rather subtle commentary about how society rewards bullies and punishes those for being ‘odd’ even if they are harmless. This just doesn’t come across as well in the ’17 movie, and part of that is because LeFou is a perfect embodiment of this theme. He clearly secretly hates Gaston and only puts up with his boorish idiocy and horrible behaviour because it benefits him socially. At the same time, though…fuck, LeFou is an actual character in the 2017 movie, and Josh Gad instills a lot of pathos and sympathy in his arc. He’s actually fleshed out and his turning point feels pretty rewarding, I actually really think this element of the film works really well. Hmm….guess YMMV on this one? I’ll talk more about his sexuality later.
CHANGE: MAURICE! Maurice is a lot more fleshed out and given a more considerable degree of pathos in the 2017 flick. In the animated movie, he’s basically a comedically inept father figure who serves little more than to drive the plot, though admittedly he’s not as incompetent or broadly characterised as, like, the Sultan from Aladdin. Still, he’s not exactly deep or anything. Maurice is less overtly skittish or buffoonish here, driven by the loss of his wife to dote after his daughter and has a calmer, more sobering presence.
VERDICT: I don’t think Gaston accusing him of being crazy works as well as it does in the animated movie, because in that he is quite erratic and odd whereas here, at best, he’s a little cut off and sullen. Him ranting about The Beast doesn’t really justify the plot point either, even accounting for the town’s own prejudices. Outside of that, I love the emotional portrayal of Kevin Kline, and he really elevates the part into something a bit more than just bumbling dad who fits the necessities of the plot. Again, really decent change to a pretty unremarkable character in the original. I really like the short song he gets too, though it’s rather awkwardly fitted between Belle and the reprise. I’ll…get to Belle’s mother.
CHANGE: BELLE THE INNOVATOR! There are a couple of more scenes added to flesh out Belle. We see her teaching a girl to read and the town’s disgust at her doing that, and she becomes the inventor instead of her father, who seems more interested in tinkering than inventing (when he leaves in this version, it’s not for some science fair, he’s just going to the market).
VERDICT: I liked the addition of Belle teaching a young girl to read. It add more compassion to her character, who seems completely detached from her community in the animated version. Also another example of showing the prejudiced and judgemental side of the town. Belle being an inventor really does not add anything to the story, and it never comes up after that initial scene where she invents a washing machine. Maurice’s inventing may not be a huge part of the original movie, but it informs his character and adds to the town labeling him as crazy. Also his invention does factor into the plot.
CHANGE: THE DESIGNS! Shit looks different
VERDICT: Hate the redesign of The Beast. Hate it. One of the more subtle elements of the animated movie was how less animalistic The Beast is in his movements and demeanour as he recaptures his humanity, and he’s just too regal and proper in this version. Plus, he looks like…well, a beast! You can see certain animals in their, but it still feels unique. This, he looks like the regrettable byproduct of a stag, a cat and a royal French bloke. How the servants look is so creepy. One thing animation can do that we still can’t capture with CG is put human faces on non-human entities and not have it look jarring or off. The live-action Jungle Book nearly got away with this, but there’s still uncanny valley because, well, animals don’t have the facial functionality to talk like people, and animation allows us that extra detachment from reality that it’s easier for you to accept a teapot can talk without it breaking your suspension of disbelief. The castle is great, though-great gothic design that fits the more period drama they are going for, yet also feels wondrous and fairytale-like.
CHANGE: EXTRA STIPULATIONS ON THE CURSE! There are about 2 or 3 different changes here, so I’m just lumping these all together for simplicity’s sake. The curse has some varying different functions than in the ’91 flick. Here, the servants will change permanently into the objects they embody and disappear forever if the time allots without the curse having been broken, whereas they’d just be stuck in those forms in the animated flick. Instead of the arbitrary ‘Before his 21st birthday’ rule, it’s just stuck to when the rose loses all its petals. And the castle also changes and loses parts of itself alongside the rose, whereas it’s unaffected originally.
VERDICT: These are all well more effective changes in terms of adding tension. The rose was always the ticking time bomb in the story, so I never got having it be exactly on his 21st birthday anyway. The castle is a really cool way to visually depict the gravity of the curse, and the servants literally at risk of losing their lives puts a lot more emphasis on their urgency to matchmake these too compared to the original. All clever changes that elevate the story.
CHANGE: BELLE THE HERO! In the ’91 movie, Belle just bargains with The Beast to take her father’s place as his prisoner. He complies, and forces Maurice out of the castle himself. In the 2017 version, it’s changed to Maurice staunchly refusing to leave, so Belle tricks him into asking The Beast to allow her to say goodbye in his cell, and she pushes him out of it and replaces him.
VERDICT: I’m guessing this was changed because the original made Maurice look slightly cowardly and Belle pretty passive in agreeing to replace him. But I dunno if it’s entirely necessary. Of course Maurice is afraid of this thing-look at him! He does protest what his daughter is doing, but he’s clearly overpowered by The Beast and is forced to go along with it. Belle still shows her bravery and adoration for her father by taking his place, and Maurice immediately plans to go back in both versions, so it feels a little arbitrary to make Belle and Maurice in more active lights than they may have been seen originally? I dunno, it’s a strange change that doesn’t add anything.
CHANGE: THE PLAN FOR ROMANCE! In the ’91 version, The Beast is actively trying to woo Belle because he knows she could break the curse. He’s just really bad at it because, well, he’s a monster who’s completely tapered down by his temper and self-loathing. This is earlier shown by her giving her her own room in an awkward attempt of making her feel more comfortable. In the new one, this thought never seems to pass his mind-his servants are the ones who mastermind it entirely independent of The Beast’s motivations in the matter. It’s not The Beast who moves Belle to her room, it’s Lumière.
VERDICT: I guess they felt this made The Beast look kind of manipulative, but I actually like that. I like that his goals with trying to be nice to Belle initially was entirely self-motivated, it makes him more dynamic and the moments when he legitimately starts falling for her more impactful. When he lets her go later on, it’s more rewarding because we know he had been betting on her to break the curse, and she became more important to him than that. It’s a small detail, but I think it works against the story and makes The Beast’s character a little weaker. They do little things here and there to detach them before the wolf attack (Beast tells her the West Wing is forbidden in the animated version, Cogsworth and Lumière accidentally let it slip when giving Belle a tour in the live action one), which is not a huge deal but it does lessen their connection before The Beast attempts to save her. It’s a really minor thing that doesn’t really have a hugely negative effect, though.
CHANGE: BELLE THE SELF-RELIANT! In the 2017 version, Belle tries to escape immediately after she gets sent to her room by creating a rope made of bed clothes. In the ’91 flick, she only attempts to escape after The Beast yells at her when she finds the rose.
VERDICT: I guess this is to fight against the asinine ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ criticisms (like I said in my Belle article, watch this video by Lindsay Ellis, who pretty much sums up what I think about this), but I don’t know, her being there was more predicated on saving her father, and even if she thinks he’s in safety, she really doesn’t know what The Beast is capable of. And even then, she wasn’t in the Castle that long before she runs away from him when she sees first hand just how much of a threat he is. Again, it feels like over-correcting for something that really isn’t a problem, where I think Belle would exercise more caution, so it just feels superfluous.
CHANGE: THE BEAST’S DADDY ISSUES! In the 2017 version, we’re treated to a flashback to The Beast’s childhood, complete with horrible child actor, as we find out the reason he is the way he is is because of his father’s cruel treatment and moulding of his personality after his mother died. No such scene exists in the animated movie, The Beast’s parents are never mentioned.
VERDICT: This one bothers me. There’s a painful attempt at making The Beast’s actions as passably nice as possible, and it removes a lot of his edge. Now his foul temper and selfish behaviour are due to him having a horrible father who taught him to be a dick. Not that this really excuses his actions, but there’s no real function in making him more sympathetic as it undermines his growth later on. The Beast was just a spoiled asshole who learned to be a decent person, adding this abuse backstory does nothing outside of adding an awkward parallel to Belle’s own parental issues.
CHANGE: THE SERVANTS BEAST ISSUES! Adding to this, Mrs Potts adds that the staff sat by and did nothing as this sweet little angel was turned into a monster. It’s heavily implied that’s why the Enchantress cursed them as well.
VERDICT: Again, this is hugely unnecessary and kind of nonsensical. It’s like The Beast had absolutely no control over his behaviour, or that somehow the help could have stopped his father’s abuse? Why try to make the servants culpable in Beast’s horrible personal growth-they’re victims of his selfishness. It’s attempting to make the Enchantress’ curse more emotionally complex which it really doesn’t need to be, and breaks down when you ask yourself why was Chip turned? Did the toddler not offer him enough emotional support, or was Mrs Potts just REALLY not helping so that her punishment had to be seeing her young child be turned? Did the dog not offer emotional support? Again, you’re reaching for emotional depths that really aren’t there, lads.
CHANGE: ANOTHER SONG! We get another song unique to this film here, it’s more the characters reflecting on their plight
VERDICT: I’m only really adding this because I’ll be talking about the third song they added, and it feels weird to leave this one out. I have no strong emotions to it one way or another. For the record, Maurice’s earlier song is called How Does a Moment Last Forever (it gets a reprise in the Paris scene), this one is called Days in the Sun, and The Beast’s song is called Evermore.
CHANGE: BOOK BONDING! When Belle is tending to The Beast after his injuries, they discover that they both have an taste for literature. This is how the library scene plays out in this one: instead of offering it to her as a gift, they spar over their knowledge of reading and The Beast shows it to a stunned and excited Belle to prove a point. In the ’91 version, The Beast is illiterate and Belle bonds with him teaching him how to read.
VERDICT: I really like this change. It’s very natural to have them bond over shared interests, and how The Beast shows Belle the library is really cute. Also, yeah, seeing as they’re being more period-accurate, of course a pampered prince would have an expensive education and know how to read. It’s a nice little touch to legitimise their connection.
CHANGE: GASTON’S ATTEMPTED MURDER! In the 2017 version, Gaston and LeFou go with Maurice to try and rescue Belle. Gaston decides to tie Maurice up in the forest and leave him to die. He’s rescued and confronts him at the tavern, but Gaston uses his lack of proof, LeFou’s unwillingness to testify against him and the town’s adoration of him and dislike of Maurice to worm his way out of it. He then gets taken to be committed. In the animated movie, Maurice goes alone into the forest after the town rejects him, he gets rescued as Belle, whilst Gaston comes up with a plan to bribe warden at a local asylum to have Maurice committed if she doesn’t agree to marry him. He gets taken then, where Belle shows them the Beast with the mirror and the plots converge again.
VERDICT: This feels like it services BatB’s weird sliding timescale, where it feels like a lot of time elapses in the Something There song (a lot of the sequel material takes place within this ‘time’), but it doesn’t really add up to when Maurice goes back into the woods to rescue Belle. They try to justify this by having Maurice be a little bit more delayed and the incident that causes Belle to run back home is him being committed rather than his being lost in the forest. At the same time, though, it pushes Gaston too far too soon. It honestly makes his will to murder the Beast seem tame in comparison-he leaves an old man to die in a wolf-infested forest! Also, his plan in the animated movie is just smarter. He’s all about his image, and even with his overconfidence that he has LeFou under his thumb, it’s still a weird risk to take having his adoring townspeople find out he attempted to kill a man. Bribing the warden just feels a bit more conniving and clever, it makes him feel like a much smarter character, and more devious without being outright murderous. It’s also a better escalation of conflict.
Side note, as useless as the warden really is (he doesn’t even get lines in the 2017 version), it’s great to hear the smoothly villainous voice of the late, great Tony Jay. Lucky these directors had grander ambitions for such a voice in their next movie…
CHANGE: THE ENCHANTRESS! The Enchantress has a much more expanded role in the 2017 movie. She doesn’t actually appear in the ’91 film sans a mosaic depiction. In the live-action version, she’s disguised as a beggar in the town, rescues Maurice after Gaston leaves him to die, and appears at the end to break the curse herself after Belle declares her love for The Beast
VERDICT: The Enchantress was originally going to be Belle’s mother, right? I mean, it felt like that where the movie was going, especially with her interaction with Maurice. I’m guessing someone early on realised this was a stupid idea, but they needed someone significant to rescue Maurice so in she stayed! She’s an utterly pointless presence here and adds to the weird attempts at humanising what she does by having her disguised in such a role. Waste of a character given an unwarranted sense of importance (…I mean after she curses the Castle)
CHANGE: THE FUCKING BOOK! The Beast has a book that lets him travel anywhere. Left by the Enchantress to ‘punish’ him by giving him the ability to travel anywhere but can’t risk it because of his appearance.
VERDICT: WHAT THE ACTUAL CHRIST IS UP WITH THIS THING?!?!?!?!?! Even with the attempts to add pathos, it still doesn’t really work because The Beast never thought about going to uninhabited areas?! There’s plenty of beauty to be found in the world untouched by people! It tends to be nicer, even. He can travel anywhere, anywhere, and he chooses to mope around instead?! Also this is a perfect opportunity to fix an actual issue with Beauty and the Beast, that being Belle’s completely aborted character arc of wanting grand adventures, because she has that now! She can go anywhere! But no, it’s never brought up after this scene, not even at the ending. Which is kind of amazing, as this book instantly teleports you to wherever you desire, and how does Belle decide to go back and rescue her father? On fucking horseback! YOU ARE MADE OF STUPID!!!!!! (though, in the interest of fairness, Belle found time to change in the urgency of finding her unconscious father, so maybe she just really likes to waste time no matter what version) This is easily the dumbest thing they add, and why do they add it? Well…
CHANGE: BELLE’S MOMMY ISSUES! So a pretty major subplot is added about Belle’s mother. Her father never talks about her and Belle is aching to find out more. We find out through her transporting to her old home in Paris with the book that she died of consumption in Paris.
VERDICT: This story eats up so much time, has a scene and McGuffin dedicated to it, and in the end it adds up to nothing? We don’t learn more about Belle, it kind of fleshes Maurice out a bit but only in the sense that we know he wants to protect his daughter…shocking reveal that. Like, this *might* have made more sense if she was the Enchantress, but as that may not have even been their intention, as it stands on its own, it’s a weightless subplot that does nothing but pad out the runtime.
CHANGE: THE BEAST’S GOODBYE SONG! The Beast gets a song to sing as Belle leaves, and climbs up his castle singing it while she rides off to save her father. He just stays in one place in the original version.
VERDICT: I think this song is cheesy, maudlin, and really badly constructed particularly with the awkward framing of him climbing up. This is more a personal thing, but I really think it undercuts the pathos of The Beast’s personal sacrifice by overemphasising it. It works better in a simpler manner. But hey, hope Disney get that Oscar nod for Best Original song?
CHANGE: BELLE’S RESCUE! This is actually one of the few times where it’s more elaborate in the ’91 flick. In that, Chip stows away with Belle when she leaves the Castle, and Belle and Maurice are locked into their basement after Belle shows them The Beast in the magic mirror. After they pry the basement open, Chip spots the invention Maurice was shown building earlier on in the film and they ride that to get to the Castle in time for its siege. In the 2017 version, Belle gets thrown into the wagon sending Maurice to the asylum after she shows them The Beast, Maurice pries the lock open with her hairpin after they have a heart-to-heart, and he knocks out the orderly allowing Belle time to rush to the Castle.
VERDICT: I liked the callback to Maurice’s invention and its use in the plot. Now Belle just manages to catch up with them pretty damn early, only really being held back by the servants defenses. Outside of that, minor change that doesn’t really change anything-don’t really get why Chip is there in the animated version, to be honest.
CHANGE: THE SERVANTS CHANGE! After The Beast dies, we have an extended sequences watching the servants turn into their objects one by one.
VERDICT: I think this is rather overly stretched out and hurts the pretty languid pacing as the emotional centrepiece is with Belle and The Beast here. We don’t have to see every character change at once. Having said that, it is a really effective moment, and surprisingly horrific seeing such beloved characters lose their humanity, even briefly. I think the threat works really well for why they act so desperately to get Belle and The Beast to fall for each other, and seeing that threat actualised is rewarding in of itself and helps elevate them to more than just supporting players.
CHANGE: THE VILLAGE REMEMBERS! After the enchantment ends, the village who are still there remember the cast stuck in the castle, and certain characters are reunited with their families
VERDICT: I like this. It’s a nice pay-off and connects the Castle cast with the village, who are more humanised but less utilised in the live action flick if that makes sense. The villagers really don’t get a moment like this in the animated version, as the focus remains on our main players, so this is a nice touch.
CHANGE: THE GAY MOMENT! The much talked about ‘gay moment’ with LeFou is a beat in the closing ballroom scene where he dances for three seconds with another man, one of Gaston’s friends from the bar who is hit with a joke of being dressed up in drag from its predecessor, but he ends up liking the wardrobe change.
VERDICT: While I get Disney’s attempts at positive representation, this is pretty weak. I don’t feel it’s a worthwhile tribute to the late, great Howard Ashman, who was the lyricist of the soundtrack and whose life and death informed a lot of this film. Because LeFou’s sexuality is just left implied and, even with his devotion to Gaston brought up tenfold, is not even remotely necessary for his characterisation, it’s a pretty tepid attempt from the film. If this works for you, cool, I just feel that it could have been stronger.
Despite how ridiculously wordy this post is, most of these changes are pretty minor. Most of the subplots don’t affect the main story by design, and characters that are fleshed out are so minor and inconsequential it doesn’t add to much. As discussed, there are definitely some clever alterations that work, but sadly I don’t think they save this from being a pretty middling adaptation that tries just hard enough to question whether internet losers are correct on a few things, but not enough for it to have any real impact. Watch the animated movie-it’s a way better paced ride and the vocal performances are stronger. It’s just that bit more magical, and this retread, while not terrible and with a lot of smart revisions, is wholly unremarkable.
But hey, that’s what you get when you try to revise a tale as old as time.
So I wonder what other Disney classics from your childhood I can ruin with my overanalysa-
Yeah, that’ll work.