|Beauty and the Beast review (yep, twenty years too late)
||[05 Oct 2011|10:14pm]
I watched this a few days ago, and I think it might have been for the first time. I might have seen it as a kid, but I remembered virtually nothing from it (aside from a few of the principal characters' existences, and that I believe can be traced back to a lot of McDonalds toys and so on). I would've definitely had ample chance to see it, since my cousins always got every single popular kids' movie on video as soon as it came out (and all The Simpsons ones, and Friends...you should see the DVD collections the three of them have as adults; they're insane) so either I never bothered to watch it, or I did once and decided I wasn't interested enough to watch again.
So, I'm approaching these thoughts with the idea that this was essentially the first time I'd seen it. I knew the general idea, that there was a beast which was actually a prince somehow, and obviously Belle gets involved with him and duh, they fall in love, because it's a Disney movie, but nothing more than that.
Therefore, watching it, I was left with a really weird feeling. Actually, ambivalence. On the one hand, I was really pleased that I noticed so many awful things which I probably wouldn't have done as a kid (at least not consciously), and some that I wouldn't have noticed even a few years ago. These sorts of things (which I shall naturally discuss in excruciating detail shortly) are the sort that ought to be noticed, and the fact that I did can only be a good thing in my opinion for the advancement of society. It's all about questioning and refusing to accept the status quo unthinkingly (thinking about it and accepting it is something else entirely).
On the other hand, I probably would've enjoyed the film a lot more if I hadn't been thinking about and picking up on all these things. It wasn't even overthinking; I didn't start out with a desire to analyse the thing, just to watch it. But this is the sort of thinking I seem to do naturally these days, and sometimes it can suck a bit of the fun out of things. That's the price you pay for knowing things, I guess. Ignorance really is bliss. You know, if a slave knows no other possibility for his life and proclaims to be happy being a slave, then is that okay? If freeing him would cause him more pain than keeping him, which is better? That sort of awkward rubbish.
I watch back stuff I watched a lot as a kid (e.g. The Jungle Book, A Little Princess, The Aristocats, The Secret Garden) and I don't really see the problems. I have no doubt that they're there because everything has problems (and fandom won't let you forget it). I just don't see them because I am totally viewing through my nostalgia glasses. And you know what, as much as I probably could watch them analytically and find the issues, I don't want to. I've had enough of my childhood torn apart by simply seeing the huge differences between now and then. If there are a few things I can watch and still just easily enjoy, then I will (and I can do this safe in the knowledge that other people will for sure be finding all these problems and commenting on them, so. All's not lost for society).
And now to my thoughts! These are just random things that came to me during the viewing. Not all are 'issues', some are just musings.
- What's up with the three girls swooning over Gaston? I get that he's supposed to be all handsome and stuff (though, ugh, it does kind of give a vibe that you have to be someone 'special' like Belle to work out that he's a dick, but that's not just a female thing since the entire village seems to be obsessed with him and working as a hive mind) but could they not even manage to animate three separate girls? Why are they all exactly the same? None of the other villagers (read: men) suffer from this identikit problem, so why do these women?
- The scene where Gaston comes to propose is proper fucking creepy. Walking in and following her as she backs off, and knocking over chairs in his wake? While she seems a bit taken aback, for my money it's not enough. She's neither scared enough or angry enough to imply that this is proper revolting behaviour and if it happened in real life what you should be doing is either telling the person to get the hell out or calling the police, whichever will make you safer quicker.
- The accents for the household staff are stereotyped to the point of hilarity (laughing being easier than crying, you see). Cogsworth the Butler, English. Lumière the maître d', French. Mrs Potts the head cook/maid, English and older. Incidentally, how did she create a kid with an American accent? And following on from that - we are supposedly in France, right? So...how does Lumière have a French accent but no one else does? Seems a bit odd... Then again I always have these problems with accents when thinking about stories in which the characters would be speaking in a language which they actually aren't. Like, Brummie is totally a stereotype for a bit of an idiot, and a Geordie is nice and friendly, and someone with an RP accent will assuredly be the judge or the headmaster or so on. But if they're all meant to be speaking German in Germany, can you still use those stereotypes? When they're all addressing each other as Hans and Liesl and so on? One wonders.
- David Ogden Stiers voices Cogsworth! I totally didn't pick this up during the film, have just seen it via Wikipedia. And have also managed to follow that into finding out that he is gay, which is interesting. Unfortunately that was from TV Tropes, so once this post is done there goes my night. David Ogden Stiers, by the way, is Charles Emerson Winchester III from M*A*S*H, in which he still has a very upper class accent but it is more American, unlike Cogsworth. Cogsworth also sounds quite a bit younger, perhaps oddly, since that would've come at least a decade after M*A*S*H.
- It bothers me that far more of the household furniture and cutlery and so on is animated than there would have been household staff. Like, look at how many broomsticks there are! Also, the majority of them don't seem to have faces but they can still sing. Something's wrong there. I just don't quite understand why you would bother not only turning the real people into animated objects, but also animating the rest of the objects in the house. (I note here: when I say I wasn't overthinking...I really didn't put any effort into these thoughts, but I can see how this paragraph might be described as such.)
- The head of the asylum notes that Maurice is harmless, and then immediately goes, "Oh yeah sure, I'll lock him up." Eh? It's handy there's an evil (according to his laugh and eyes and all) asylum head around, huh? He even says something like, "I was told you'd make it worth my while," but then Gaston doesn't seem to offer him anything, so apparently just the joy of doing something evil is enough.
- Without having any prior knowledge of Maurice's axe machine, how in the hell did Chip a) know what it was, seeing as it's essentially an axe attached to a bunch of other objects and b) know how to work it? He doesn't seem to communicate with Belle or Maurice beforehand to get any advice...
- Belle starts the film by singing about how she wants much more from this provincial life, and is uttely uninterested in marrying Gaston, not only because he's a complete arse but also apparently because marriage, yawn, and so on. But suddenly by the end of the film just because she's 'fallen in love' all of a sudden all her previous dreams go out the window? Really? She goes from wanting to be a free adventurous spirit to suddenly totally happy to settle down in the castle with the prince? (I admit this isn't explicitly said, but...I can infer.)
- The fact that the Beast actually turns back at the end bugs me. I get that it's supposed to be like a reward for figuring out that looks don't matter (and also weirdly for finding someone else who thinks that, or converting them, which is a little out of his control but whatever) but if that's the case, once you have figured out that looks don't matter, surely it doesn't matter what you look like? If you truly don't care then why bother changing back? Though I suppose him not changing back would've left this film with an intriguing note of bestiality on some level. Quite literally, him being the Beast and all.
This entry was originally posted at http://pending-progress.dreamwidth.org/13221.html.