The live-action retelling of Beauty and the Beast set box office records before its first week in theaters had even come to a close, earning more than the original 1991 animated film ever did. The remake of Beauty starring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens made history with both its opening weekend and first week numbers.
New York Times critic, A.O. Scott, reviewed the film earlier this month in a way that I found quite interesting. He reflected on how the film could have presented what he called “problematic” archetypes such as the animalistic man and the imprisoned woman, but instead gracefully avoided such suggestion by putting emphasis on Belle’s ahead-of-her-time intelligence and unwavering bravery. Emma Watson’s role as the courageous and brainy Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series has made her a feminist icon in the public eye and her portrayal of Belle as a compassionate yet fearless woman has served to strengthen her image as a heroine. Watson’s debut as Belle is also now her biggest opener to date, upstaging her previous record in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 by a landslide.
Scott’s review also touched on the villainous role of Gaston who, “…goes from annoying to evil when he stirs up the anti-intellectualism and xenophobia of a populist mob to serve his own egomaniacal ends. The residents of the castle fight back because their humanity is at stake. It’s just a fairy tale.” This bold statement is dripping with suggestion and indirectly points a finger at the current state of America’s political affairs. I found it interesting how he took the review of a seemingly simple and innocent fairy tale story and spun it into a political statement. I don’t believe movie reviews should necessarily include the critic’s political views but Scott sure found a creative way to incorporate them in his piece.