There are few things I love more than hilarious women, books, and stuff I can do without having to exert any physical effort, so when I found out about the fledgling podcast #BookSquadGoals, I was there.
At least until I listened to their first minisode (“Bonjour! BonJOUR! Bonjour (bonjour) BONJOUR!“) and heard Emily blaspheming about how the live-action Cinderella was superior to the live-action Beauty and the Beast.
Alright, to be fair, she never actually outright said that either was superior. That’s my emotional attempt at paraphrasing while trying to recover from the actual quotation, which I’ve blocked below for those of you who have yet to listen to the podcast (though, what are you waiting for, go now).
“I liked [live-action Cinderella] better than this Beauty and the Beast movie and I think a lot of that was that it wasn’t trying to be an exact replica of the original Cinderella movie. I’m not gonna say it did something really crazy and original with the Cinderella story, but it was its own adaptation of the fairytale. Which is why it worked for me, I was just kind of disappointed that this adaptation of Beauty and the Beast was not new in any sort of way.”
If I knew how to spell out the record-scratch noise, I would put it here. Emily, you and I agree on so many things, but I will fite you on this. In fact, I am gonna lovingly fight you on this right here, right now.
Cinderella was a visual masterpiece from start to finish, with an awesome cast, breathtaking cinematography, and insane levels of gorgeous CGI. But, in my opinion, it was not a new adaptation.
Sure, they plucked out the musical numbers and added in a shallow backstory (kind of?) for the Prince, but otherwise it was the same bland story of femininity and grace trumping meanness against all odds.
I don’t know what else I expected, but I left Cinderella feeling a little cheated, since the story itself wasn’t reimagined or exciting in any way. It was essentially a totally flat remake, though more beautifully remade than any other remake has ever been, with no new depth added to characters or interesting motivations revealed. I would’ve probably been a bit sulkier about this after seeing it, but the combo of vivid visuals, Richard Madden in tight white pants, and Cate Blanchett blowing it out of the water reminded me that I should be sending Kenneth Branaugh a thank-you card.
On the other hand, you have the live-action adaption of Beauty and the Beast. This film, in my opinion, did flesh out backstory and characters. We get new dimension into LeFou, into Gaston, into Maurice, into the Beast and his whole entourage. Gaston has done a stint in the war, Maurice isn’t just a madman but a widower handicapped by grief (which the #BSG girls also pointed out), and the Beast has some quiet suffering of his own laced into his childhood.
Disney also breaks tradition in giving us a reason for a dead parent which almost never happens, since usually protagonists are just orphans without explanation. While the #BSG girls may have hated the Paris scene, I am a dirty dirty slut for any historical context or allusion, so seeing the plague mask and the flashback to plague doctors was freaking awesome. … I could have done without the weird magical book, though.
“The fuck is this?” – Belle, probably. Same, Belle.
Essentially, I think Beauty and the Beast was a better development of storyline and characters, whereas Cinderella was a visual triumph and a study in near-perfect acting. BatB had the better ideas, and Cinderella had the better execution. I wouldn’t say I liked one better than the other, but I will absolutely defend 2017’s Beauty and the Beast as being a solid, new adaptation of ‘a tale as old as time’ in its own right.
… But where I disagreed with you above, Emily, I for sure agree with you on one point: whoever cast Emma Watson must have been blackmailed by someone very important, because what the hell was that. Not to mention that, as the #BSG girls put it, “No one can fucking sing.”
Amen, #BookSquadGoals squad. Amen.
#BookSquadGoals is a new podcast discussing literature, lady stuff, and cats (god, so many cats). A new episode airs every Monday; make sure you’re there to hang out with your four new best friends who don’t know you exist.