SPOILER ALERT: This article is ram-jammed packed with Beauty and the Beast spoilers pertaining to the major differences between the original version and new live-action adaptation, so if you don't want to read all about how this Beast is actually a cursed prince, turn back now.
Still with us? Good. That means you've overcome any qualms you might have had about #Disney's live-action adaptation of #BeautyAndTheBeast not paying adequate tribute to the 1991 animated version we all grew up with. That said, just a quick glimpse at the video we made that pits the old against the new — using only the first trailer — should've been proof enough that they would stay close to the original material:
Actually, it looks exactly the same — so similar in fact, it begs the question: Surely there must be something there that wasn't there before? The answer? Yes, yes there is:
1. The Specific Affects Of The Beast's Spell
In the original 1991 animation, the affects of the Beast's spell are not exactly explained well. Sure, we know that an enchantress comes to his castle, is denied and casts a curse upon the prince, condemning him to a hairy, angry life until he finds true love and is loved in return.
However, why the local town suddenly forgets his existence — and the existence of the castle — or why on earth it's constantly winter there despite being based just outside a sunny Provincial town, is omitted from reasoning entirely. The 2017 adaptation addresses the answers to these questions. Kind of.
Now we're given explanations for why it's snowing in June — "magic" — and states that the enchantresses spell wipes all memory of the castle and those living within it from the minds of the local villagers — because "magic." Problem solved.
2. Maurice Is Not Simply Thrown In Jail Without Reason
Gone is the bonkers village inventor Maurice, constantly tapping away at contraptions likely to maim every villager in sight should a wayward teacup get a handle on it — so also gone is his long mission to the inventors fair. So, how does he wind up plonked behind bars in the Beast's castle?
This time, he's off to the market — but of course, this mission does not go to plan. After a tree is struck by lightening in the forest, Maurice is forced to take another path down a windy road, which is when he acknowledges that snow in June is pretty bizarre — *magic* — and is attacked by wolves. Escaping with help from his trusty steed, they make it to the castle and through the gates, though after spending a little time in the castle and getting utterly freaked out (understandably) by a talking tea set (nice addition), he flees.
But before he leaves the castle, he remembers that he promised to bring Belle back a rose from the market (because heaven forbid she could've asked for a book to expand her measly library), so attempts to pick one from the castle grounds. It's then that the Beast gets all up in his grill and throws him in prison for theft. Still dramatic, but less dramatic than putting a pensioner in a cold cell for warming his tootsies by the fire for five minutes.
3. And He Doesn't Just Let His Daughter Take His Place
Something that always got me about the original is how OK Belle's dad was with schleppin' out of that cell and swapping places with Belle. Yeah, so he says "no" a couple of times and acknowledges that he has lived his life, but doesn't really put up a fight. In this version, Belle is more headstrong and knows that her father would not let her give up her life, and her youth, to save him — which, quite rightly, he won't.
She reasons with the Beast to let her say a final goodbye to her father, and showing more humanity than the animated version, he opens the cell and allows her to do so. After Maurice explains that she cannot sacrifice herself, she hugs him and then pushes him out of the cell, closing the door behind her — simultaneously owning the decision to remain captor to the Beast, and making her father seem less of a passive character, too.
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4. Stockholm Syndrome Explained...Ish
Unlike the animated story, this tale isn't simply "girl is imprisoned in castle and stays there until she likes it." Belle is far more present and in charge of her decisions. On two separate occasions does she make a move to escape, first through weaving together bedsheets to shimmy down the side of the building, then straight out of the front door, with a little help from Philippe. And on both occasions, she decides to stay. And it's not without reason.
Through backstories that vastly enhance our understanding of the characters, we're shown a deeper connection to both Belle and the Beast. They both lost their mothers at a very young age — Belle's to the plague, and Beast's to an unnamed illness — and have grown with the sole influence of their fathers. In both cases, this impacted them negatively. For the Beast the affect is apparent: His dad twisted him to be selfish, snobby and mean-spirited, hence the enchantresses rejection; and though Belle has a very close relationship with her father, this closeness is largely down to his dependency (which she refers to in the movie), and in turn hinders her from seeking adventure outside their Provincial village.
The pair also have things to talk about. Unlike Gaston, the Beast had an "expensive education," meaning they bond over conversations over literature; sharing little jokes, references and reading passages to each other as they roam the castle grounds.
5. Both Belle And The Beast Get Backstories
As mentioned above, greater insight into the Beast's character makes him far more believable and therefore endearing. We're shown him as a little boy, witnessing his mother's passing, and we're told about the mentally destructive influence of his father. We're also told that Mrs. Potts et al simply did nothing to stop this young boy morphing into the selfish Prince he became.
By offering an alternative side to this previously one-dimensional (angry-still angry-human) character, we have a deeper understanding that there is an actual person hiding beneath the fur, that he's capable of change because he has been a sweet soul before, and that he has something worth changing for.
6. Belle Is Completely Fearless
Being a feminist herself, it's to be expected that #EmmaWatson's representation of Belle is far stronger than Disney's original interpretation. And the movie is all the better for it.
That's not saying that I didn't think that 1991's Belle great, she was — the way she plopped Gaston into that pigsty remains one of my favorite Disney moments — yet here we see her make several definitive choices. This Belle is fearless, not only does she not gasp on seeing the Beast for the first time, but, as mentioned previously, each decision she makes is her own — whether that's leaving the castle or opting to come back to save the Beast. Also, she utters the line — "can anyone be truly happy if they're not free?" — which not only links to the Stockholm syndrome we've covered earlier, but makes you staunchly aware that she never forgets the reason that she's trapped inside the prison.
7. Not Everything In The Castle Is Magic, Duh
During the battle sequence in the original movie, we see a number of household appliances attack the villagers without any real knowledge of whether these bashing knives, plates, and more are actually transformed individuals. What's the deal? Was everything in the building once a person? And, what's more, will there be repercussions for the castle-folk after brutally bashing the villagers to death?
Though the latter part is unsure, it's clarified from the get-go that not every item you see in the castle was once a living, breathing human. Belle picks up a hairbrush and enquires of its origin, to which Lumière and Cogsworth side-eye her and say (paraphrasing), "no babe, that's just a hairbrush, u OK?" Basically, this just means that the dancing plates in the "Be Our Guest" number aren't just voiceless puppets, which is nice to know.
8. The Outfits Are Way More Suited To The Era
Though we see Belle modernized in many ways via costumes in the new adaptation — her blue dress is denim, hitched on one side and worn over trousers to allow ease of motion when horseback riding — the majority of outfits are transported back in time to reflect the mode of dress in the 1700s. From the rich brocade on the Beast's jacket to the ridiculous wigs and powder puffs, mammoth caged skirts and bustled behinds, every character other than Belle (because she rebels against tradition; this is a woman who can read, after all) is situated in the correct time period.
9. A Bunch Of New Tracks Tickled Our Earbuds
Last, but by no means least, perhaps the most apparent difference between the old Beauty and the Beast and the new one was the addition of tracks that did not feature in the original. The Beast's solo, "Evermore," Mme. Gaderobe's "Aria," and "How Does A Moment Last Forever," sung by Celine Dion were all fresh additions; and two tracks, including Gaston's number, we're revamped with unused lyrics from the animated movie — pretty cool, huh?
Spot any other notable differences? Sound off in the comments!