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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

‘Beauty and the Beast’ in 3D

Published: January 27, 2012
Section: Arts, Etc.

At the 9 p.m. screening of the award-winning classic “Beauty and the Beast” that I attended, the audience uniformly consisted of college-aged students. Although the Disney franchise is definitely trying to relive the Disney Renaissance by repackaging old movies and making them “new,” they are still directed toward the same audience, just 10 years older.
Yet the film is just as relevant to kids now, even if they do discover it on a Disney DVD rather than the dilapidated VHS tapes we’ve had for years. Even without the fuzzy lines running across the screens already an integral part of the film itself, it is still “our” movie. We were the ones growing up wearing vests without shirts underneath singing “A Whole New World”; the ones who envisioned chopping off our hair with swords and joining the Chinese army; the ones who lifted our puppies and yelled, “I just can’t wait to be king!” We watch the re-releases of Disney films not to “see the film,” but to remember what growing up felt like and to giggle at the same jokes we giggled at when we were younger.
That being said, “Beauty and the Beast” (in 3D) was simply amazing. This was my first time watching a Disney movie in 3D as well as the first time seeing a 3D movie since “Avatar” came out, and sometimes I forget how much technology has evolved. After putting on those ridiculous frames that balanced awkwardly on my already large glasses, I was completely blown away by how crisp the lines were, and how subtle the 3D was. There was still a part of me that expected the paper glasses with the blue and red cellophane and things to be continuously popping out at my face. The depth that was present in the screen (even during the trailers for other children’s movies) seemed almost natural, as if this were how we were meant to watch it all along.
A brief recap for those who haven’t seen it in a while: A beautiful witch dooms a prince and his servants to live in their castle, with the prince becoming a beast and his servants transformed into furniture and kitchen utensils. Cue a magic rose that will lose its last petal when the prince turns 21. If the prince (now the Beast) does not learn to love a woman and “earn her love in return,” the Beast and his servants will remain transformed forever.
Seemingly on the other side of town, there is Belle, the beautiful village girl who is the film’s highly literate protagonist. Gaston, the villain, tries to blackmail her into marrying him, threatening to put her father in an insane asylum if they are not wed. The Beast takes Belle’s father hostage and Belle quickly arrives, offering to become his captive in exchange for her father’s freedom. Long story short, Belle falls for the Beast; Gaston with the rest of the village tries to kill the Beast; the anthropomorphized utensils defeat the village; the Beast kills Gaston; and Belle and the Beast are wed in front of the villagers who pretend nothing about this situation is bizarre. And the Beast returns to his handsome, human form.
One of the best parts about rewatching the film was catching subtle humor that we simply wouldn’t have understood as children. Gaston was introduced in a hunting setting that prompted Le Fou, his tiny sidekick, to exclaim, “No beast alive stands a chance against you … or a girl for that matter!” Although this appears to be dramatic irony, my viewing group speculated that it only set the homoerotic undertones that were always present in their relationship. This relationship fully manifested itself in the song “Gaston,” much to our enjoyment and the rest of the theater’s exasperation (no really, “No one’s quick like Gaston / No one’s neck as incredibly thick as Gaston”).
Other particularly hilarious parts involved really obvious French stereotypes put in between sexy Lumiere and Bimbette the French maid/feather duster—the only two with French accents despite the film’s being set in France. Cogsworth, a very underrated albeit snooty character, also pulled his weight in this particular viewing of the film. One trivial scene involves him giving a tour of the castle using terminology that in a children’s film only “former” children could laugh at: “As you can see, the pseudo facade was stripped away to reveal a minimalist rococo design. Note the unusual inverted vaulted ceilings. This is yet another example of the neo-classic Baroque period, and as I always say, if it’s not Baroque, don’t fix it!”
Thinking about the Beast and pondering his situation was also interesting. The spell was supposed to last until he turned 21, and at one point during “Be Our Guest,” Lumiere references rusting for 10 years. That means that the Beast had been determined morally unfit by a witch when he was 11? And since then he’s only had contact with the people in his house? At most, the film lasted more than three days. The first person the Beast saw he kept hostage, the second, Belle, and the rest were people who were trying to kill him. This sounds very traumatic for the Beast, and it’s difficult to keep from hypothesizing about their future and how stable their marriage will be (I think that the Beast will be overly dependent on Belle, but maybe that’s what they need!).
Although “Beauty and the Beast” in 3D was an amazing experience, the next films to be redone in 3D are “Finding Nemo,” due in September, and “Monsters Inc.,” due in January 2013, neither of which I have very much interest in seeing. I’ll definitely be seeing “The Little Mermaid,” however, the last of the currently scheduled re-releases, due in September 2013.