So, tonight, our blog posts are about Narrative, which, for a fairy tale, is very apt. Because this fairy tale was fraught with narrative. And narrative issues. We start off with Belle’s father randomly discovering a hidden castle in the middle of an apparently enormous forest (that never shows up in the scenery of the town) and wandering around, partaking in the food there. I can forgive this, it is after all, necessary to set the plot in motion. We almost watched Goldilocks, but no, the real issue here is Belle’s father picking up a rose. By some arbitrary decision of the Beast, touching roses are punishable by death… Or getting one of his daughters to take his place. Which also is fairly arbitrary.
Belle goes to take her father’s place, but instead of being sentenced to death, as Beast dictated she would be, she is kept alive, pampered, and then asked to become the Beast’s bride, every night, to which she says no, every night. I get the feeling we’re supposed to know that Belle is really nice and humble, but there is no characterisation to get us there. And there’s no way the Beast could know how nice she is, as he decided to spare her whilst she was unconscious. The only conceivable reason he would have spared her is that she’s pretty. It is her defining, and only, characteristic. Her name means beauty. She’s compared to her sisters via parallel montage, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the females in the world are horrible as well. Even worse, the sisters are constantly trying to make themselves beautiful, which the movie consistently reminds us, Belle already is.
And as for the Beast being a good person, he really isn’t. He’s nice to Belle, yes, but she is beautiful, and that’s an excuse in this universe. He sentenced Belle’s father to death, over a rose, the importance of which is never explained. Why are roses so special? The Beast may be nice to Belle, but from what we’ve seen, he overreacts and threatens people to death over his garden. He also keeps Belle spirited away in a magical forest, and “allows” her to visit her father for one week, only when he’s dying. She is his bloody prisoner, and this is Stockholm Syndrome.
The horse is also another example of lazy plot construction. The Beast has a magical teleportation glove that allows Belle to travel untold distances in the blink of an eye, as well as a mirror that allows anyone “pure of heart” (which he isn’t, though he can use it in the film) to view anyone else, at untold distances. So why does he send the horse to pick Belle up? She can obviously teleport back, and he could have used the mirror to check on her, rather than sending the horse. The only reason I can see that the horse would be sent is plot convenience, just so Avenant and Ludovic could appear at the Beast’s castle.
Not to mention that Belle betrays the Beast’s trust in every way imaginable in her week away from him, the least cogent part of the movie is any scene with Diana’s Pavilion. First off, and this is more of a pet peeve, the bourgeois of France before the French Revolution did not know who Diana was off the top of their head.
Now then. The Beast was transformed, as such, by spirits taking revenge on his parents. Not because he’s prideful and was mean to an enchantress who punished him for his sins, using rose motifs as his punishment, not because there’s some lesson he must learn, but because Shakespeare’s Puck was bored. That is an eleventh hour cop out. But! They also supply him with magic, a castle, an intelligent horse, and riches. Do these spirits know how to punish people? Was this film the true punishment?
Diana is somehow connected to these vague spirits, and by shooting Avenant, he becomes the new Beast. Which doesn’t make sense, was the first Beast shot? No. Why is Diana important, again? I thought it was spirits. The more disturbing aspect is that this Beast curse acts in the exact same manner as the cursed video from The Ring. The only way to free yourself is to pass it on to someone else, who may not even deserve it. The former Beast, apparently a Prince, looks the same as Avenant. He stole Avenant’s face. Which does not disturb Belle in the slightest, because she apparently loved Avenant as well, but refused to marry anyone until she found a Prince that looks like Avenant who also used to be a Beast but is now simply magical, and can fly. Because we’ve already thrown good writing to the wind, why shouldn’t he be able to fly? And Ludovic escaped this horrifying fate because he was afraid of going into the Pavilion. Surely that isn’t fair? He did, after all, have the same intentions as Avenant.
I just don’t even.