So after much anticipation and excitement, I was finally able to go and see Beauty & The Beast, the new film version, that EVERYONE has been talking about. I took my tweenager, for a mother daughter date, and we thoroughly enjoyed it.
You can’t have failed to miss the intense discussions about the meaning and message behind the movie and how apparently it’s makers had intent. I have seen many people say they won’t watch it, because of “that scene” right at the end, which implied in a light hearted way that Gaston’s hapless but ultimately not so bad sidekick “might” be gay… Or you could have decided that The Beast represents satan, which is the other reason I have heard people don’t want to go and watch it. Both, to me seem a little ridiculous. It does make me laugh that people will happily go and watch one movie, with a fair amount of fantasy and freaky stuff (Lord of the Rings for example) but Beauty & The Beast is a no go… but that’s a blog post for another day when I am feeling strong enough to cope with the comments I’d have to deal with.
I digress, I will get back on track.
I have always loved Beauty & The Beast, it’s one of my favourite Disney movies, and I remember watching it on VHS (yes, I am THAT old) with my own mother when she was recovering from chemotherapy, during her cancer treatment. She loved it too. So to take my own daughter to watch it, was special for me. The message and theme I picked up is not something I’ve heard mentioned in discussions of the movie…
Yes, the Beast is a tad scary at the beginning, and the make up and CGI are brilliant, so he does seem very “beastlike”. Yes, at the end Gaston’s buddy Le Fou, does bump into a male dancer and there’s a hint that, well, who knows… We all laughed, because it was a funny moment, and my tweenager didn’t even question or seem bothered by it, so I am really not sure what ALL the fuss was about.
Yes, the movie is about true love winning through, and a horrible person becoming nice, because of the love of another person, and about not letting appearances cloud your judgement of a person’s true worth, and all that but, I do think there was a message in the movie, possibly not one that was blatant, and maybe the makers didn’t even intend it to be so.
The message for me, without making a huge spoiler blog post, for those who haven’t seen it yet, is that poor parenting, either the kind of parenting that is over indulgent or the kind that borders on cruel and neglectful, can produce a child that will grow up into an adult, who is frankly, not very nice and who will, if unchecked and never taught self discipline and control, go onto make the lives of those around them, miserable. That if no one stands up to a person and says “this is not acceptable”, if people around them enable their behavior, then you basically have a person who is allowed to use and abuse at will, because they have no one to say no to them. That they will end up making those around them unhappy, and will likely end up unhappy and lonely, themselves. It’s a classic cycle of abuse or mismanagement of a personality that results in a person perpetuating that abuse. I have seen it in my own life, with people around me.
I came away from the movie, having thoroughly enjoyed it, and yes, I sobbed at the end, when of course love conquers all, and everyone is where they should be, and the classic Tale as Old as Time song has been song (much to my tweenager’s embarrassment – “mum, there was kissing, and YOU cried!!”) but also impressed at the subtle psychology of the film. At one point the characters admit that they have enabled the Beast in his behavior. I have had similar conversations with people in real life like this.
So, if you want to go and watch it, don’t take my word for it, go and see. It’s interesting to see how they have taken this tale and how it reminds us that not is all as it seems, and that the damage done to a child, can perpetuate through a generation, and cause more harm. It’s not all about mushy love and romance and girl wins through/boy gets girl. There’s a darker reminder of the reality of life that many of us who live with an abusive person, have to deal with. The Beast was basically a narcissistic person, who made the lives of the people around him awful, because he didn’t know any better and had never had anyone teach him differently or stand up to him. He was allowed to behave this way, and used his power to control and abuse. How much like real life is that for some people?
So, my take on the movie. It was fabulous, we sung along, and I will be getting it when it comes out on DVD, but the discussion I had on the bus on the way home with my daughter, wasn’t about the “gay” scene, or the scary beast, but about how people can be very cruel, and make other people’s lives hard, and how sometimes it’s hard to stand up to a person like that. Not the take away message I had expected, at all, and not what you get from the original Disney cartoon either, I don’t think.
I would love to hear what other people think, did you take home the message I did?