After the wreck of his ships, a financially-ruined merchant exiles himself in the countryside with his six children. Among them is Beauty, his youngest daughter, a joyful girl full of grace. One day, during an arduous journey, the merchant stumbles across the magical domain of the Beast, who sentences him to death for stealing a rose. Feeling responsible for the terrible fate which has befallen her family, Beauty decides to sacrifice herself and take her father’s place. At the Beast’s castle, it is not death that awaits Beauty, but a strange life in which fantastical moments mingle with gaiety and melancholy. Every night, at dinner, Beauty and the Beast sit down together. They learn about each other, taming one another like two strangers who are total opposites. When she has to repulse his amorous advances, Beauty tries to pierce the mysteries of the Beast and his domain. And when night falls, the Beast’s past is revealed to her bit by bit in her dreams. It is a tragic story, which tells her that this solitary and fearsome being was once a majestic prince. Armed with her courage, ignoring every danger, and opening her heart, Beauty manages to release the Beast from his curse. And in doing so, she discovers true love……
With elements of fantasy such as a castle in the forest, a curse, a prince
charming and a damsel in distress, fairy tales have always been fascinating and 'Beauty and the Beast', is no different.
First written as 'Belle et la Bete' by French novelist Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont in 1756, there have been many variants of the original in literature, television, stage and films.
Ironically, Director Christophe Gans' 'Beauty and the Beast' is the second major French film adaptation of the classic fairy tale after 68 years. The previous film with the same name was directed by Jean Cocteau in 1946.
Well this latest edition, with a bit of digression in the narration, offers nothing out of the ordinary in terms of plot, acting or presentation.
But nevertheless, it is still mesmerising. It is so magically beautiful with its phenomenal music, exquisite visual style and enchanting craftsmanship, that it would enthrall kids of every age group.
Narrated as a layered story within a story mode, the film begins with the opening of a book as Seydoux's voice reads a bedtime story, 'Belle et la Bete' to two adorable kids. She tells them the tale of a rich merchant who has three sons - Maxim, Tristan and Luis and three daughters Anne, Clotilde and Belle.
Belle the youngest, is known for her beauty and the film is her journey of how she meets the beast and falls in love with it.
On the performance front, most of the cast are perfunctory. Lea Seydoux as Belle is ravishingly endearing. Vincent Cassel as the Beast is adorable too. But unfortunately the chemistry between the two is lacking and the fault lies not with the actors but with the sketchy script that wrapped up the exposition with seemingly unintentional hurry.
Also, this classic romantic fairy tale feels more contrived than it ought to as the scriptwriters underplay the true depths of the romance and emotion amidst its majestic plot-graph.
Technically, with excellent production values and elaborate costumes, the visuals by cinematographer Christophe Beaucarne are vibrantly brought to life by his meticulous framing. Unfortunately, the computer generated images of the Beast done by motion-capture are of poor quality and jarring at times.
But as mentioned earlier, this film, its minor flaws notwithstanding, is sure to captivate kids and leave them engrossed in this fantasy tale.
A treat for kids, the release of the film couldn't have been more well timed, with this being a 'Children's Day' weekend.