Plot: 4 Stars (Spoilers)
Belle has more than a few moments of personal courage in this film. When she realizes that her father is lost in the woods, she immediately sets out after him and makes her way to the Beast's abandoned castle. When she finds her father locked away and freezing in the Beast's tower, she bravely offers to take his place, sacrificing her own freedom to save his life. Belle also makes one valiant attempt to escape the castle, but is attacked by wolves and eventually rescued by the Beast. When the Beast collapses in the snow, Belle almost takes the opportunity to escape from him once and for all, but finds she can't just walk away after he's saved her life. Instead of returning home, she brings the wounded Beast back to the castle.
It's difficult to say whether Belle's decision to return to captivity with the Beast should be applauded or mourned. It's an unfortunate truth that women are often expected to be kind to the point that it puts their own needs and sometimes even their own safety at risk. This is a stark example of that troubling value system. But given the entire context of the film, this scene is intended to reveal a woman who has a healthy sense of compassion, and perhaps even a keen ability to see beyond the superficial face of things, to the suffering human being underneath.
Character Development: 4 Stars
Early on in her imprisonment, Belle shows us that she has a firm sense of pride and justice. Although the Beast moves her out of the tower and offers her a comfortable room and a warm meal, she is neither grateful nor cooperative. She may be his prisoner, but she makes a choice to preserve what independence she has left by refusing his invitation to dinner. The castle servants gently encourage her to take the time to get to know the Beast, but Belle rightfully clings to her anger at having been imprisoned.
Unfortunately, despite this strong beginning, Belle's sense of independence and injustice tapers off after she returns to the palace with the injured beast. In the scenes that follow, we see Belle and the Beast adjusting to each other's company, and even beginning to care for one another. But the pretty scenes that follow don't come close to addressing the fact that Belle is still his prisoner. Or the fact that she hasn't seen her father since the day the Beast ripped him from her arms without even allowing her to say goodbye. Belle never confronts him about her captivity until the very end - and even then, she doesn't make any demands for her freedom. She simply tells the Beast how much she misses her father. Belle could have been a far more powerful role model for young girls if she had put up more of a fight for her independence - rather than softening so quickly.
Room for Improvement:
Gender Roles – Women
Gender Roles – Men
Self-Esteem and Body Image
Gender Roles - Women: 3 Stars
Belle is a thoughtful girl who would rather spend her time reading than engaging in the monotony and gossip of her small town. She is unimpressed with the dashingly handsome Gaston, and may be the only one to realize how shallow and overtly sexist he is. She begins the story with grand dreams of exploration and adventure - even if her dreams are a bit vague. Unfortunately for Belle, her adventure turns out to be just another love story in disguise.
Gender Roles - Men: 2.5 Stars
The Beast is supposed to be a kind and gentle creature beneath his claws and fangs, but he is selfish, aggressive and cruel for the first half of the film. We tend to forgive his outbursts because we sympathize with his predicament. We understand that some of this aggression stems from being trapped in a monstrous body and isolated from society. The Beast does express some severe despair and loneliness that pulls on our heartstrings. But he also takes out his suffering on innocent people like Belle and Maurice. He expects Belle to put her own pain aside and tend to his wounds, but he isn't able to do the same for her and her father - at least until the very end.
Self-Esteem and Body Image: 1.5 Stars
Belle may be a more compelling heroine than previous Disney princesses, but she is still admired for her beauty before anything else. The townspeople don’t care for her curiosity or her sense of adventure. If anything, they seem to forgive these “oddities” simply because she is lovely.
Beauty and the Beast attempts to deliver the message that “true beauty is found within.” To do so, it balances the rude but handsome Gaston against the “kind and gentle” prince that is trapped in the body of a beast. While the concept of finding “true beauty” is laudable, it’s difficult to ignore the fact that these stories always rely on a beautiful young girl finding the heart in an ugly or deformed man. We’ve yet to see a re-telling in which the roles are reversed, and a handsome prince sees the “true beauty” in a monstrous or unsightly female.
Love: 1.5 Stars
A large part of the problem with this love story is that Belle is not only expected to see beyond the Beast's monstrous form, but beyond the fact that he's imprisoned her against her will - and that his cruelty might have killed her father had she not showed up when she did. The unlikely love story in Beauty and the Beast might be more convincing if the story took some steps to resolve the Beast's original cruelty to Belle and her father. If they had just one heartbreaking conversation where he expressed some remorse over what he'd done. If there was just one moment where she struggled to find a way to forgive him. Instead, she's swept away by a romantic winter afternoon and a special night of dancing in a golden ball gown. She's expected to fall in love with him despite the fact that he's more animal than human, but he isn't expected to apologize, or even acknowledge the fact that he's taken her rights and her freedom from her.
Overall, Belle is a fairly brave and confident young woman who is also compassionate enough to see the true beauty in someone's rough exterior. But she also tolerates a fair amount of control and cruelty from someone who claims to love her. For all the reasons Belle might make a decent role model for young girls, falling in love with the Beast is not one of them.
A beautiful young girl, Belle, is bored with her small town and frustrated with the advances of a rude and arrogant suitor, Gaston. When her father Maurice goes missing, she sets off in search of him, eventually finding him in a tower guarded by a hideous Beast. Belle agrees to take her father’s place, and in time, begins to see a kinder, gentler side of the Beast that has taken her prisoner. Belle’s love may be the key to releasing the Beast from his monstrous form, if she can save him before Gaston and the townspeople get to him.
Kelly is a labor law