Friday, June 2, 2017

Gans' Gorgeous 'Beauty and the Beast' Is On Netflix!

We know lots of readers have been waiting a very long time to see this. Now Netflix has the English language dub of this sumptuous French live action retelling of Beauty and the Beast. (The original actors are the voice dubs -they just re-recorded their lines in English, but the movie was shot in French - so English dub, despite the great voices, doesn't match lip sync.) 

Other great news, you can also choose to watch it in the original French - with or without English (or Spanish) subtitles! (It's been very difficult to find a disc that gives this option.)
It's not Disney. It's French, luscious and has much more in common with the French literary versions. Here Beauty has siblings, her father is a merchant and there is a new-but-feels-old mythical aspect to the Beast's backstory that is probably our favorite addition to the story. There are also a heck of a lot of Cocteau homages and you simply can't help but be amazed by the visual aesthetic brought to the whole production. Even the 'pedestrian' scenes without magic have a glow about them, while any scene with magic is breathtaking.
It's biggest criticism is people finding the beginning slow, or that it has "all these extra things about the family", but if you're expecting a musical with animated objects, instead of the merchant backstory and the tale being told to children, perhaps it might seem that way. This version initially develops the character of Belle in the context of her family, like the written version, and shows the strain which they are all under, echoing other themes throughout the better-known parts of the story. Despite having no dancing enchanted tea sets, and some additional human drama, this version has a lot of magic - a LOT.

Every frame is beautiful and the magic is, well magical, rather than just fancy fantasy.

Take a look at the English trailer:
Yes, it's not Cocteau, but if you like fairy tale and fantasy films, you'll be doing yourself a disservice not to check this out. It's a well made and beautiful film. The costumes are gorgeous, the effects are amazing, and it incorporates the importance - and magic - of the garden and roses. (And we love the use of statues.) There's thrills and adventure, romance, mystery, and sweetness and Belle and the Beast have a feisty, interesting relationship that develops in an unusual way. Vincent Cassel as both Prince and Beast is very compelling, (complete with very decent creature make-up and VFX) and Léa Seydoux as Belle is the stunning and modern fairy tale heroine you wish more films had - accessible and gracefully adapting to princess mode without losing that appeal. Most notably, Belle is so independent and has so much agency, even when staying 'true' to her time period, that it doesn't have that whiff of Stockholm syndrome other versions are criticized for.

The Beast has a story, Belle has a story, everyone in this film has their own story and they weave together affecting each other but none of them change their essential natures until they're ready to take that step themselves. (And you're not disappointed when the Beast transforms at the end!)
Here's a full clip (in French with English subtitles) in which Belle is late in joining the Beast for dinner. Just know that his story is more complicated (and satisfying) than it appears, even here.
Possibly the most basic and best thing is that this is a full-on fairy tale film. It's a big story, with a lot of scope and once the magic starts happening you are neck deep in fairy tale mode, never to leave again until the credits roll. It also has all the 'original' Beauty and the Beast fairy tale bits and pieces missing from other remakes (though it doesn't get waylaid by fairies or fairy politics, thank goodness!).

We only wish we could have seen this in the theater.


  1. Replies
    1. (Whoops sorry I thought my first comment didn't go through ;)) I really am very excited though :P

  2. It's interesting to hear your take on it.
    I actually found this movie far *more* Stockholm-syndrome-y than any of the other versions I've seen. To me, this beast is angry, threatening, and violent; he doesn't give Belle *any* reason to stay and fall in love with him. Also, the backstory of his wife the wood nymph was kind of random - I didn't quite follow the motivations of the characters or find them particularly reasonable.
    I'd been wanting to see this movie ever since it came out in theatres in Europe, but when I did, I was kind of disappointed. I loved it for its visuals, of course (how could one not?), and you're right, it's got a beautiful, dreamy fairy tale feel to it. But I found the characters unsympathetic and just couldn't get into the story.
    It's interesting how each of us sees a story so differently!

  3. The family part is certainly the strongest element of the movie, but others, like backstory of the Beast left me cold. I dunno, this film seemed too confused for me. The parts just didn't seem to go together. Like there's these magical pets which make it seem like a kid's movie, but later a person gets violently crushed to death? What was that about? The different elements of the movies also seemed to have different themes that never quite connected. It was a spetacle to look at but - for me - nothing more.

  4. Finally had a chance to watch this! It was gorgeous and I personally enjoyed seeing Belle with an extended family. However, it completely fell short in developing a romance. The two characters instantly go from disliking each other to being in love? In books, you can describe the attraction between characters without having them outwardly express it, but in a movie, you must have at least a scene or two showing the characters connecting in order to make the happy-ever-after ending feel genuine.

    But if you leave out the lack of romance (or friendship), I found the movie quite enjoyable. My favorite part was seeing that Belle and her family do NOT move into the castle, but bring the un-Beast back home to their cottage. I thought that was a lovely touch.