Tale as Old as Time is New and Present
Beauty and the Beast is coming out today! Today!
Okay, well, only to select theatres today, which does not include mine, unfortunately, but just knowing it’s playing nearby is enough to warm my heart.
I am so excited for this movie, can you tell? I was not a fan of Disney’s real life Cinderella (and you can see why, here) but I have a feeling that this one is going to be so good for all the reasons Cinderella wasn’t. I mean, it’s starring Emma Watson! One of this generations leading feminists and inspiring women, so it’s not going to be one of those movies about being sweet and kind and a perfectly “good girl” in order to win the guy’s heart.
Then again, despite the name, Belle never was like that.
I remember sitting in the theatres when the cartoon version first came out. I was eleven years old. Yes, that’s right, 11-years-old. I was in grade six and I fell utterly and hopelessly in love with this movie from the very first line:
“Little town, it’s a quiet village. Every day, like the one before.”
Okay, that wasn’t the first line, but it was Belle’s first lines. And it was the first lines, the first song, out of any Disney heroine that I could actually relate to. I saw myself in Belle. No, I wasn’t the most beautiful girl in town, nor was I the girl that any guys, never mind the catch of the town, wanted to date or even so much as noticed. I was the girl whose nose was in a book and who never felt like she fit in. Just. Like. Belle. And, I had brown hair, so that was a bonus too.
She wanted out. She wanted more than the simple life she was leading and I could relate to that wholeheartedly even at the age of 11. But what was great about Belle, was that she took life by the horns. She was brave and courageous, and not by going to some ball, but by getting on that horse and riding into the dark of the forest and going after her father. For staying in a scary place because she knew he wouldn’t survive there. And then, for having the courage to see beyond the outside of a person, for being brave enough to stand up to a so-called monster so they’d want to change, they’d want to be better. She could have judged the Beast right from the start, hated him, and never attempted to see beyond his ugliness. But she didn’t. She stayed and she saw him for what he truly was.
She accepted him.
Now, I know there are many arguments that this is actually what happens in an abusive relationship. Or that Belle demonstrated Stockholm Syndrome (a condition that causes hostages to develop a psychological alliance with their captors as a survival strategy during captivity – Wikipedia). And I don’t deny any of that. Well actually, I do. Belle wasn’t abused, she was held in captivity, which was a product of the time. Her father was trespassing, the Beast took measures to punish him, extraordinary measures, yes, but measures nonetheless. In some states, if a person breaks into your home you are within your rights to shoot them, so really, he could have killed them instead and he didn’t. But Belle was a strong heroine who knew what she was getting into when she agreed to it in the first place. She really did. You could see that when she looks at the beast, closely and carefully, before saying yes. She is strong and intelligent and there is no way anyone is going to make her do something she doesn’t want to do. And I am so excited for Emma Watson to recreate this amazing character live on the big screen. Because I do believe there could not have been a better Belle, even before seeing the movie.
The simple fact that she is in this movie proves that there is a strong feminist message, that this movie is not going to teach girls to play nice and then they’ll get their prince. This will be a movie with a strong female character that they can look up to. Just like the first Belle in Disney’s 1991 cartoon version. I was breathless with the first preview and I fully anticipate, after seeing pictures, being breathless for the majority of the film. Even the simple fact that there are people complaining about an LGBQT agenda in this movie proves that they have stepped into the present and are trying to create a film that is a voice for our time.
It’s a Tale as Old As Time, but one that can, hopefully, remain timeless. And after I go see the new version, hopefully on Saturday, I will let you know what I thought. If you see if before me, though, please, put your thoughts and comments down here, I’d love to know what you thought!