“Do you think that with a little bit of passion or compassion you’ll find a way to love me?” asked Bête to Belle.
La Belle et La Bête or Beauty and the Beast is a grand story that has been told in many means—in many adaptations, most notably the Disney’s, which was adapted into Broadway musical, and all. The source of this world-famed tale is a traditional fairy tale penned by French novelist, Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve; although, people knows the story more from the simplified work of Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont (on which the Disney’s version was based). This version, Christophe Gans’, claims to be a patron of the unabridged version.
While Disney’s version deviated a bit from the source material by adding Gaston and all the enchanted objects, this version finds its own way to retell the legend. The merchant, Belle’s father, is described as a wealthy widower with 6 children; woe is him, a shipwreck has turned down his fortune, pushed him and family to move to countryside. Not long until the moment he is lost in the woods only to meet Bête—the strange beast (Vincent Cassel) dwelling in its hidden castle. Well, everyone knows Belle (Léa Seydoux) sacrifices herself as a replacement to his father’s life, only to find a real love deep in the woods. It’s a story that everyone knows, so what’s the importance of this latest adaptations? Is there a new perspective or what?
So, here’s my thought, this La Belle et La Bête is obviously a grand production, a pretentious piece of work that relies much on its beautiful visuals dressed up in plentiful of CGIs. The CGI works to create visual spectacles with light colors making every frame looks like coruscant paintings from the medieval time, that’s a beauty; on the other side, the ample of CGI in this movie successfully overshadows the story itself—which is nothing new.
Gans, indeed, works on the story to put more backgrounds to Bête’s being cursed into the creature he is. He also adds more detail to the story that, seemingly, is inspired by Disney’s creature, but, most definitely, he tries so hard to make this version distinct. What he forgets is the narrative itself. The narrative seems to be too hurry and too bland; even there’s no depth between the main protagonists’ bond.
Léa Seydoux and Vincent Cassel both pledge worthy performances when they’re on their own. Yet, together—as a symbol of true love—they fail to shows real chemistry. Gans’ decision to focus more on the detail of its beauty sacrifices the depth of the main protagonists’ character. Instead of adding more reasonable background to this true love—that makes it more than just a Stockholm syndrome, the narrative makes this subject a real miracle of generic fairy tale.
To speak of the beauty, this movie holds it dear with mesmerizing visuals and enchanting costumes; however, the beast still crawls upon the skin of the beauty as the weak narrative starts coming into sight. La Belle et La Bête has everything it needs to be a real grand love story, but it engulfs itself in ambition of making a grand spectacle with wasted talents.
La Belle et La Bête (2014)
a.k.a Beauty and The Beast
Drama, Romance, Fantasy Directed by: Christophe Gans Written by: Christophe Gans & Sandra Vo-Anh Starred by: Vincent Cassel, Léa Seydoux Running Time: 112 mins