Mar 17, 2017
When the animated version of "Beauty and the Beast" was released in 1991, it became an instant classic. In fact, it was the first full-length animated feature in movie history to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture, and grossed over $400 million worldwide, truly sparking the modern-day renaissance in Disney animation.
Now, 25 years later, Disney is releasing a live-action version of the spectacular musical. Bringing to life some of the most remarkable moments in movie cartoon history – in particular, an utterly stunning recreation of the show-stopping musical number "Be Our Guest," in which everything from candelabras to exquisite furniture comes to life – the new movie is an artistic triumph.
However, the new film has been dogged by controversy for the past couple of weeks, since its director Bill Condon said that it has "a nice, exclusively gay moment." There has understandably been a lot of concern from Christian groups and parents as to what that connotes. I'll get to a description of the scene and my thoughts on it in a moment.
The movie opens on an arrogant young man (Dan Stevens) getting primped for a lavish party. But when an elderly woman enters his castle during the festivities, seeking some refuge from a storm and offering a perfect red rose in exchange for the favor, the man denies her.
It turns out the woman is an enchantress, and she subjects him and the friends attending the party to a terrible curse, turning him into a beast and his friends - the grand bouteiller Lumiére (Ewan McGregor), his sweetheart Plumette (Gugu Mbatha-Raw ), court composer Maestro Cadenza (Stanley Tucci), the grand maitre Cogsworth (Ian McKellen), the head of the kitchen Mrs. Potts (Emma Thompson), her son Chip (Nathan Mack) and the maestro's wife, opera singer Madame de Garderobe (Audra McDonald) – into household items.
Lumiére becomes a candelabra; Cogsworth a clock; Cadenza a harpsichord; Potts a teapot, and Chip a chipped tea cup. She then leaves the Beast with the red rose, warning him that he and his friends will be trapped in their current conditions forever if he cannot find true love with a woman before the last petal drops.
Years later in a small town, a young woman named Belle (Emma Watson) is more interested in books than boys. When a dumb hunk ex-soldier named Gaston (Luke Evans) attempts to woo her, she shoots him down, leaving him to be cheered up by his constant sidekick, LeFou (Josh Gad).