The Avalon remains our favourite theatre, not only because it is just a five minutes walk from our place, but also because of its grand interior. Tonight we went there again to watch Kak Emma’s new film, Beauty and the Beast.

The film remains largely the same as the original, made 26 years ago. Some attempts are made this time around to provide a back story for The Beast, to make Belle more sympathetic to him and see him more as a tragic character with a bad upbringing and less of an asshole. Despite these attempts, however, the whole story still have the feel of the old: the most famous pathological example of Stockholm Syndrome.

LeFou’s character is a major upgrade here, being depicted as a homosexual, having a major unrequited love with Gaston. I have to say that he has become the most interesting character in the whole movie. I find that the filmmaker’s claim about Belle being given a feminist touch was a bit unproven. Belle still reads that same ‘ol fairy tale about prince charming, and still is the same character as depicted in 1991. If Belle is a feminist she should join the Women’s March on Versailles and leave the Prince altogether (but then again we might be watching a different movie!).

I find it hard to believe that the film still makes Belle reads Shakespreare, despite the film being set in France! Why not makes her reads Molière? What, the audience needs something familiar? Come on, this is the 21st century… the audience can learn something new! Imagine Belle quoting Le Misanthrope to The Beast and then having a heated debate about the merits of nobility!

Not shown in the movie: The looming tragic end of Beauty and The Beast. Source: Wikipedia.

What I can’t stop thinking is how sorry I feel for the coming tragic end for the two protagonists, Belle and Prince Whatzisnem (like a lot of male noblemen in Disneyverse, he remains nameless. Do you know the name of Cinderella’s prince or Snow White’s?). Yes the film ends in a happy note, but we know what’s going to happen to them: Their heads will probably get chopped off by the guillotines. The Beast is a nobleman. In France. The Revolution will happen and we know that the nearby village folks will be not be terribly supercool with noblemen. Heck, they get easily terrified at anything different from them! Belle is considered odd because she is literate, they got easily provoked by Gaston’s insinuation about The Beast, I’m not surprised if later they pick the torches and pitchforks again and fetch them to the Revolutionary Tribunal. The Reign of Terror will surely put them under the national razor.

The should have remade A Tale of Two Cities, instead. Remade as a sequel to Beauty and the Beast. That would have been awesome.

Written by Tri L. Astraatmadja

After living for 10 years in Europe as a Master's student, PhD researcher, and a postdoc, in 2016 Tri L. Astraatmadja moved on to the United States for a second postdoctoral appointment at the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, Carnegie Institution for Science, Washington DC. He is now in his third postdoc at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, MD.

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