Author: Fragments of Fiction

Film Review: Beauty and the Beast (2017)

The 2017 remake of Disney’s animated 1991 Beauty and the Beast- was it worth it? Is it different? How does that LGBT plot-line affect the story?

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Recently Disney have been putting a lot of focus on live-action remakes of their animated classics and when it comes to films like Beauty and the Beast I can understand why. Live-action mixed with modern animation and CGI adds a level of magical realism to these classic tales that were not possible before.

In terms of how it compared to the the original, the level of detail that went in to the props, set, costume was perfect. It was like seeing the classic we all loved step out in to the real world. Emma Watson was absolutely stunning as Belle, Dan Stevens was a suitably misunderstood Beast and Luke Evans did a great job of playing Gaston, a terrifyingly realistic misogynist. Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellen and Emma Thompson did not disappoint in their roles as the Beast’s cursed staff. The music was gorgeous- from the underlying score to the musical numbers we all know and love. My only complaint is that Ewan McGregor could have sung more (but that is a complaint I have about every film Ewan McGregor is in).

The plot did not differ too much from the original either- with many lines lifted almost directly from the original script. Belle’s character is strong- her rejection of Gaston’s advances and the patriarchal norms of the society around her is refreshing for a Disney Princess. The moment where Belle takes her father’s place in the Beast’s castle appropriately frames her as a brave girl making a sacrifice and not a damsel in distress. She shows much greater strength of character than her male counterpart (who is, let’s face it, the most emo of all the Disney Princes).

There were two ‘groundbreaking’ elements of this film that should not have been regarded as groundbreaking. The first one, is that this is the first major live-action Disney feature film to show an interracial kiss. The first interracial kiss on television was aired in 1968, it is absurd that Disney is 49 years behind in this.

The second, and far more controversial was the announcement that this would be the first Disney film to feature an openly gay character. I thought that Gaston’s side-kick LeFou was played well by Josh Gad and he and Luke Evans made an excellent double-act. I did not, however, think that the plot-line was as explicit as the marketing for the film made it out to be. Because of the controversy around it I kept waiting for it to become more than a hint- a conversation, a kiss, an explicitly stated declaration of love, but that never came. In stead, we got one small shot of LeFou dancing with another man at the end. I feel like, if Disney had not announced that LeFou was openly gay I would have left the cinema quietly questioning this interpretation of LeFou’s sexuality and the way that this was subtly explored. I would not, however, have left the cinema thinking ‘Yes, that character was 100% openly and explicitly gay’. If you have to announce a character’s sexuality before the release of a film in order for anyone to really notice it then it is not explicit.

Another reason that this was controversial was that LeFou is really just a gay side-kick pining after their straight, villainous friend. There are many more compelling and interesting suggestions for more major Disney characters who could be LGBTQ+ floating around the internet- Hades, Ursula, Genie, Elsa and Timone to name a few. For Disney to make any of these characters a part of the LGBTQ+ community would be huge, showing that LGBTQ+ characters can be heros, villians, side-kicks and everything in between and are as multi-faceted as they seem to think straight people are.

Disney made a strong statement in the press releases that announced LeFou’s sexuality but did not seem to follow through in the film. I can only hope they are testing the waters for more genuinely explicit gay characters coming soon. Because if you’re not going to update your fairytales to show the social advancements we have made as well as the advancements of CGI then are you really ‘updating it’? Would that money, cast and talent not be better spend on new originals?

And, let’s face it, if you were going to ever so slightly change Beauty and the Beast in the name of representation, the far more obvious choice would be to let Lumiere and Cogsworth stop bickering and release their obvious sexual tension. Are Disney more likely to show a kiss between two men, or between a clock and a candlestick? Sadly, we’ll never know.

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Conquered Jungles

Nature sends storms and man builds shelter. At first he uses Nature to build and then, over time,  creates his own materials. Concrete Jungles conquer the real ones and Man harnesses Nature. He takes the animal features he most desires and paves over wilderness. He creates light when Nature is dark and travels further than he can walk.

Things begin to die. Nature waits. She is playing a long game and watches Mankind tear themselves apart. When they are gone Nature’s green fingers grow through cracks in the concrete.

She cannot be harnessed, tamed or conquered. And she will endure.

via Daily Prompt: Conquer

Paparazzi

Lights flash in the dark. There is a deep, thunderous rumble. Insults rain down. The media storm has hit.

She covers her face and hurries to the cab. The driver hits some of paparazzi with the door as he opens it for her. He speeds away before she has fastened her seat belt. He is used to this, this is LA.

He sees her trying not to cry and feels a twist of sympathy. It’s easy for a person to get lost inside controversy.

He wonders if the man she slept with is getting the same treatment. He doubts it.

 

via Daily Prompt: Controversy

Luck in Love

Luck turned to Fate and said, “What should I do?”

“Whatever you want,” Fate smiled because she knew already. Luck took Fate’s hand and a man missed his train. He cursed them both and sat to wait for the next one. Luck smiled at Fate and a gust of wind blew a ticket from a woman’s lap. It came to rest under the bench of a man who’d missed his train.

He retrieved it, she thanked him. Her train pulled in to the station and he was glad he’d missed his. Fate kissed Luck and they boarded the train together.

via Daily Prompt: Luck

Spinning

A spider drops down from the rafters above my bunk. It is tiny and brown and spinning a web. I am so big to it, so massive that it does not notice I exist until I move. It freezes mid-air.

Does it know what I am?

Does it know it’s on a ship? Does it matter?

It is a small spider spinning from a thread on a big boat, but the boat is only big to the spider. The boat is cramped to me and tiny to the ocean. The ocean is small to the world and the world itself is not all that big. It is a tiny thing, spinning through space and time.

I am travelling from England to New York and I will spin myself a new life there. The spider will do the same, but it will never know.

via Daily Prompt: Massive

A Glass Heart

He shattered her heart. Shards of it crunched under his boots as he left. She tried to pick it up, piece it back together, but every time she touched it she bled.

There was glass in her skin and splinters of anger in her pain. The floor trembled and pieces of her heart rose with her rage. She sent them to find him, like a plague of angry locusts, a swarm of broken dreams come to claw at his skin.

He bled a little. She bled far more.

And still he did not love her.

via Daily Prompt: Swarm

Vivid Love

The shadows that stalked me stained my world grey. They shrouded me like a cloud of smoke, draining me of my colours and hiding me from sight. I was cold and quiet and lonely.

Then I met you.

Our hearts met and I filled with light that chased the shadows away. Our eyes met and there was warm brown, rings of green. You sat with me in calming blue. You spoke in my favourite purple. You laughed in bright yellow. Your touch sparked vibrant reds, blushing pinks and fiery orange across my skin.

You kissed me and there was gold.

via Daily Prompt: Vivid