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Watched The Beauty And The Beast yet? Emma Watson as Belle is the one big (feminist) reason to go watch this new Disney movie!
Disney is on a roll! After acing the animated movie series of classic fairy tales, they have stepped up their game, venturing into movies with ‘real’ characters, be it Cinderella in 2015, The Jungle Book in 2016 or now in 2017, The Beauty And The Beast.
The Beauty And The Beast is a very simple, straightforward story grandiosely told – opulent costumes, to-the-minutest-detail setting, breathtaking cinematography, dreamy and lively song and dance sequences and surreal performances.
This movie wins you over completely. It is not easy to have an often repeated, done-to-death popular children’s fairy tale as your special offering to hold the viewer’s interest. But interest, it sure did manage to retain from the very start to the finale moment. And how! By staying as true and close as possible to its original classic fairy tale but adding more interesting layers of depth. It is a sheer delight and truly magical, just like a fairy tale ought to be.
Luke Evans as Gaston plays his part with finesse. He is strong, masculine and handsome, yet off-putting with his cockiness, arrogance, narcissism, double-faced persona and sadistic nature. Josh Gad plays Gaston’s side-kick LeFou with ‘gay’ abandon.
The Beast is ghastly yet exudes warmth and a heart-touching vulnerability that makes you want to protect him from the harsh judgments of the world. His nobility does not go unnoticed either with his strong bearing, chivalry and righteous character. He becomes every bit, yours ever-so-truly ‘Prince Charming’ when he magically transforms back to his stately princely appearance. Together, Belle and her Prince make a beautiful, love-struck couple who have you rooting for them and their sparkling romance, ever so pure, pristine and genuine.
Emma Watson is the real star of the movie playing Bella with élan. As we know, Emma is the UN Women Goodwill Ambassador for Feminism and the face of the HeForShe campaign.
Emma Watson as Belle represents a brand of feminism which is refreshingly cool. When confronted with patriarchy, she is not directly aggressive in words and in her approach. She does not waste her time arguing and convincing them. Instead, she lets her beliefs, virtues, actions – her life do the loud talking.
Here are some virtues which make Emma Watson as Belle such a great role model:
Intelligence: Books are Belle’s best friend. She sets a great example for young girls in choosing books over diamonds or for that matter, any person as her best friend. She is innovative as she makes her life easier by inventing her own version of the washing machine to do her laundry so that she can utilise that time in reading books instead.
Born to stand out and not fit in: In a village full of illiterate and small-minded people, Belle is an outright reject. She is a woman far ahead of her time and place. An open-minded, free thinker! So, quite naturally, she is the ‘funny one’ because people don’t understand or identify with her. Belle is not afraid to stand out and be alone.
Dignity personified: She has the village’s most eligible bachelor, Gaston literally salivating for her. But, she doesn’t throw away her dignity for money, looks, name or fame like the other beautiful girls in the village. Belle is dignity personified. While she despises him with all her heart, the girl politely shoos him away every single time he tries to woo her.
Confidence: The scene where Belle goes right on top of a mountain and declares to the Universe that she is looking for much more than the provincial life. The girl clearly has the guts to dream big and better still, have the bold confidence in achieving her dreams. This scene for me was highly reminiscent of The Sound of Music where Maria prances around the peaks of the Swiss alps in a similar fashion singing, ‘Í have confidence in me’.
Fearless: Belle is proof that girls are not just sugar, sweet and spice but also possess nerves of steel. Call her foolish or fearless! The girl does not think twice about getting locked in a dingy, dark castle with a hideous Beast. Better still, she makes valiant plans to escape from the dungeon, quickly enough in to the deep dark woods in the night, chased by hungry wolves. She isn’t fearful of speaking her mind – loud and clear. She is bold and sassy despite her dainty appearance.
Classy: Belle is a classy woman. She doesn’t throw herself for any man, including Gaston who has scores of beautiful women or men (ahem!) vying for his attention. She does not need to flash her boobs or legs to garner attention, make any fashion or social statement or prove anything. (This is not to slut shame anyone, but this is simply Belle and her understated temperament.) She will not let any man walk all over her and disrespect her. She expects to be treated with equal respect and dignity in her relationships. She is no trophy girlfriend or wife. She is self-assured, without feeling the incessant need to grab eyeballs or attention. She doesn’t try to make others feel jealous or inferior. She certainly doesn’t put down others to make herself look or seem better. She is articulate, having depth in her conversations and is independent. The lady is all about etiquette and manners – ‘Please’ and ‘Thank You’ in place.
Heart of gold: Belle is a compassionate woman. She enjoys helping young girls develop a love for books and reading. Charity begins at home for her. While destiny played dirty and took away her mother, it compensated her with an immensely supportive and loving father. And she doesn’t break her father’s confidence and trust. She loves her old father and is there by his side as his strong support system. She wants to help Lumiere, Candelabra, the Beast and others come out of the curse
Wonderful life partner: Belle doesn’t fall in love for all the wrong reasons – looks, money or fame. She loves for all the right reasons and with both her mind and heart. It is certainly not love at first sight for her when she sees The Beast as she eventually falls in love for his virtues. She makes an understanding, affectionate, patient and supportive partner to The Beast and vice versa. She is extremely loyal keeping up her promise and returning to The Beast after saving her father.
Beauty: Cleopatra’s beauty was not exactly incomparable – a reasonably good looking woman with a hook like nose! What was incomparably beautiful about her though was her irresistible charm, intelligence, persuasiveness and the sweetness in her tone, voice and conduct. Similarly, Belle is an unconventional beauty, sparkling not with diamonds, expensive clothes or any of the exterior razzmatazz, but with her shining inner beauty. Belle finds Beauty in her Beast and sees the Beast in the externally handsome Gaston. The Beast is not perfect. He has a short temper but he is human after all. Belle sees the heart beyond all the external beastliness and flaws and finds beauty within.
Disney, here’s a big shout-out and thank you for restoring that old classic Disney charm and class in The Beauty And The Beast. There are so many tales to be retold to this new generation. Bring on some of that old world charm and magic all over again.
Yes, I do! I believe in fairy tales and happily ever after!
First published at author’s blog
Top image via movie promos
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Winner of the Rashtriya Gaurav Award (2019) in association with the Government of Telangana for ‘
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