Tale As Old as Time: Disney’s Remake of “Beauty and the Beast”


“Beauty and the Beast” stars Emma Watson and Dan Stevens. (BROOKE PARRETT/THE OBSERVER)


Whenever a classic film is remade, an understandable wave of skepticism follows. The die-hard fans of the original are often unwilling to accept any remake, believing that no production could ever live up to their expectation. However, over the course of the past few years, Disney has been making quite a profit by redoing their old cartoon classics as live-action films. The success and popularity of these remakes is generally undeniable, with films like “Maleficent” (2014) grossing nearly $800 million and “The Jungle Book” (2016) grossing almost $1 billion. And, it is clear that this year’s remake of “Beauty and the Beast” is no different.

With a star like Emma Watson playing Belle, popularity is hardly unexpected. The film has already earned $462 million in the box office, despite only premiering on March 17. But, popularity does not necessarily mean the movie is quality, especially compared to the original. Only those who have watched both the original and this remake can judge whether or not the story was done justice, and many Fordham students seemed to greatly appreciate the live-action film.

“I walked into the movie theater with low expectations—I felt nothing could match my favorite classic Disney movie,” Amanda Egan, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) ’19, said. “Throughout my viewing experience I found myself feeling happily surprised! It was very well cast, and I even loved the new songs added. Simply breathtaking!”

Although the original cartoon may be hard to live up to, this adaptation did a fair job of keeping true to the story. The only differences were some additions to the storyline, such as the story of both Belle’s and the Beast’s family backgrounds and the inclusion of a few new songs. But these were not unwelcome additions. In fact, the added content seemed to make the storyline even more enriching. The extended amount of time allotted to Belle and the Beast falling in love added a large amount of depth to their romance that the original film lacked due to the stereotypical fairytale “fall-in-love-in-five-minutes” storyline. Additionally, the inclusion of the new songs about both the past of the major characters allowed for the audience to feel more connection to and sympathy for the main characters.

“I thought the movie was really cute,” Sacred Newman, FCLC ’19, said. “…[T]he visuals were amazing and I really appreciated how diverse the cast was,” Newman continued. This is true, as the cast of this film seemed to be more racially diverse than the cartoon original. The fact that Disney has been more conscientious of including more diverse casts shows that it is moving in a good direction with inclusivity. However, racial diversity is not the only type of inclusion this film contained.

This version of “Beauty and the Beast” seemed to include what may be the first gay Disney character. LeFou, Gaston’s most trusted companion, is presumably gay in this film—an idea that is completely foreign to most Disney fairytales in the past. This may be opening a new door for Disney, as it suggests that the company is taking a step in the right direction when it comes to being more inclusive in its representations of people. What was formerly taboo in the close-minded past of Disney films may finally be accepted, as Disney may actually start including non-heterosexual characters in its films.

“I think that the incorporation of a homosexual character was a big step for Disney,” Rachel Meyer, FCLC ’20, said. “They also had Lefou change sides in the end, which put him in a more positive light than in the animated film. I am glad they included him in this way and allowed for other types of characters to be represented in the film.”

With the ability to mainly stay true to the original film with only minor, yet appreciated, changes, “Beauty and the Beast” was a clear success. And it seems Disney has found yet another source of steady income that is seeming to work without fail—remaking old films to appeal more to today’s audience. If Disney continues to make small changes to the classics to make them more inclusive the way it did with the inclusion of a more diverse cast along with LeFou as a gay character, there’s no telling how many successful remakes the company can pull off.