I don’t want to blame The Lord of the Rings for ruining fairy-tale movies but I think Lord of the Rings is ruining fairy-tale movies as they now have to be EPIC! Case in point, this movie. The 2014 version of La Belle et la Bete seems to be a remake of the 1946 movie, which I have gone on record as saying I love, however this 2014 French movie is not a remake, it’s a more of a weird re-imagining that seems to be telling a Beauty and the Beast tale but it doesn’t really want to.
Before I tell you the plot here is a game to keep in mind, try and pinpoint the exact moment when this story decides it would rather be a totally different movie, it’s not hard.
It starts off pretty much same as the 1946 version except this version is told as a story to children, gee movie I wonder who could be telling this tale and who these kids are, it’s not obvious at all. Belle’s family is being forced to move to the country as they’re poor now. Belle is the youngest child and her mother died giving birth to her. In the country, Belle is enjoying the new life but when her father hears the one of his boats survived the storm that sunk the other two ships. Her father asks what she wants back from his trip and she says a rose.
The father doesn’t get his shipment of goods and is instead attacked by some thugs who his son owes money to or something (Just get used to these thugs guys, they are the villains). Belle’s father escapes but gets lost and lands in an enchanted domain complete with enchanted castle. In the castle he is given a lots of gifts for his family but when he takes a rose, the Beast tells him to go home and say good-bye to him family and then to come back to die and if he doesn’t come back the beast will kill the whole family. Belle feels responsible and goes to the beast to die in her father’s place.
The Beast gives her lots of gifts and free roam of the castle which is enchanted with these weird dog-like creatures that are like servants. The Beast tells Belle that her curfew is seven o’clock and he asks if she is in love with him, which she is not.
Belle is then sent weird dreams about a Prince and his wife. The Prince likes to hunt and that makes his wife uneasy. The wife asks the prince to stop hunting deer, a golden deer specifically and he agrees if she gives him an heir. Belle gets more of these dreams throughout the movie.
Belle and the Beast have somewhat an uneasy relationship but Belle tries to get a visit to her family but the Beast doesn’t want to let her go. Belle offers a dance in exchange for a visit, so they dance but the Beast doesn’t give Belle her wish so she bails. The Beast chases after her and pounces on her on some ice and she crashes down through. He brings her back to the castle and heals her with some magic water. When she comes to he agrees to left her visit for family for a day and if she doesn’t return he will die. Before though he gives her some magic water in necklace form.
Belle returns and her brothers and they see her riches and bargains with the thugs for whatever treasure for the family’s safety. Belle heals her father with the magic water. Belle gets a final dream (she had like two of these prior.) In one dream prior we learn that the Prince’s wife was pregnant. In the final dream the Prince is hunting and finds the golden deer and shots it. The Golden Deer turns out to be his wife who was nymph of the forest. In a rage for killing his daughter the God of the Forest turns him into a beast and you know how this works, only love can break the curse.
We then get a fight with the thugs. Belle races to help and begs the Beast not to kill the lead thug guy but he mortally wounds the Beast with the golden arrow that he killed his wife with (there was a statue that you see a few times). As the Beast is dying, there are like giants that come out and thorns and they like kill all the bad thugs. Belle and her brothers get the Beast to the magical water and presto he’s fine. Belle ends her tales and the kids go to sleep but OMFG, the kids are her and beast’s children this whole time and they live in the house in the country with Belle’s dad, WHA? I’m SO SHOCKED! N
o, not really.
Despite my plot summery, which I will admit I don’t have a super grand recollection of this movie, that final confrontation lasts a while and REALLY doesn’t make any sense but a lot about this movie doesn’t make much sense.
Ok, let’s just start with the positives, that is typically a good place to start usually, in most cases.
The movie on a whole looked good. The costumes are the de-facto high point. They are pretty and somewhat imaginative. I like her red coral and her white gowns the best. The setting was pretty. They made the castle overrun with flowers which made it more enchanting. However the CGS, oh god the CGIs were awful. Sorry, I know I was going with positives and I go right to a bad point but you have to understand they were bad. The Beast looked really bad.
I guess another good point was the acting, it didn’t suck that much. I mean it could have been bad though the character had little personality so there wasn’t that much to ask for so it’s a moot point.
So now we come to it, the movie and the story. Apparently this movie actually had good reviews that said it kept ” the original spirit of the story.” No, no it didn’t. This movie was like watching a director trying to mimic Peter Jackson and Tim Burton making a Beauty and the Beast movie sans the point of the story. Even the score sounded like a Danny Elfman knock-off which wasn’t that bad but it was super apparent.
This movie’s main issue is that it wants to be BIG and EPIC, there is an epic fight with giants and magic and it wants to have a interesting backstory for the Beast and you know what, that is fine, that’s a great idea BUT that epicness come at the expense of BEAUTY AND THE GODAMN BEAST! I do not buy for one instant that these two fell in love. I don’t see it. There isn’t one scene that indicates a love story. There was a scene where they were marginally nice to each other but is that love? Apparently is it because next time they see each other they are in love and voila spell is broken.
I’ll get more to the spell in a second because I have problems with that as well as the backstory. But because this movie wanted to have like a mysterious backstory it takes away interactions with the the two leads and as a result I have no clue for the characters. They didn’t develop or fall in love with each other and that is the spirit of the original story, love and it’s not even remotely present in this movie.
So because this movie made a decision to have an intricate backstory, how is it? Well It’s like we’re in a whole different movie and it kind begs the question why bother?
Maybe I’m wrong but I thought the POINT of the Beast is that because he was beast he lacked the capacity to relate to people on an intimate level BUT here he was MARRIED? Am I supposed to believe that he didn’t know how to deal with a woman?
So unlike other Beasts that are either jerks or walking a thin line between animal and humanity, this beast is a jerk to Belle because he killed his wife accidentally? You know he wasn’t acting like he did, In fact with the whole backstory I thought that the beast was the Prince’s son the whole time because the Beast was acting like an immature brat the whole movie and not like a suave guy who is mourning his beloved wife. I mean the twist was good but MY GOODNESS it was stupid. And why would the Forest God turn him into a Beast to find love when it was in payment for killing his daughter? That makes zero sense as a revenge punishment. Why give him an out that leads to happiness? At least other spells were trying to teach him a lesson, I don’t see the point of this one at all.
And why did the God turn him into a Beast and then seem to help him in fight at the end? Why? It didn’t make sense, was it because of the nymph’s love? I know she was the one sending Belle the dreams but why? See doesn’t see like the backstory and the fight belong in a different movie!
I will give 2014 La Belle et la Bete a little credit, it gave the story atmosphere and pretty costumes but what it gave it more than lacked; it lacked sense, characters, and the romance of beauty and the beast.
Thoughts from 2022 – Wow was I mean in this review. I mean, yeah, the CGI were not that great and there was a muddling in the backstory but it wasn’t as bad I recalled or this review made it seem.
I was watching it because I working more costume pages on Hubpages, and the costumes in this movie are gorgeous and a rewatch was in order. Rewatching this movie I think I developed a theory as to why the romance was sparse but also why it was epic, magical and lyrical. It goes back to the framing device, a children story, perhaps Belle embellished the tale to make her meeting her husband into more of a fairy take for her children. The doll that the tadums (the dogs) gave her pointed that this story being true but maybe she just added it story for the children’s benefit. Or maybe not but the whole narrative as children story makes the films decisions feel more intentional AND having a child like sensibility is asked of the viewer at the start of the 1946 version so it’s not too much of a stretch. Anyway it’s not a bad movie, it’s fine.Follow thehunchblog