Why Emma Watson As Belle Is The Coolest Feminist Fairy Tale Character

Posted by Tina Sequeira in Culture-Vulture
March 20, 2017

Disney is on a roll! After acing animated movie series of classic fairy tales, they have stepped up their game with live character movies. Be it Disney’s Cinderella in 2015 or The Jungle Book in 2016 and now in 2017, The Beauty and the Beast.

The Beauty and the Beast is a very simple, straight forward story grandiosely told with opulent costumes, ‘minutest-to-the-detail’ setting, breathtaking cinematography, dreamy and lively song and dance sequences and surreal performances.

This movie wins you over completely. It is not easy to have an often repeated, done-to-death popular children’s fairy tale as your cherry-pick offering to hold the viewer’s interest.

But interest it sure did manage to retain from the very start to the final moment. And How!

The film makers stayed as true and close as possible to the original classic fairy tale while adding more interesting layers of depth. It is delightful and truly magical just like a fairy tale ought to be.

Luke Evans as Gaston plays his part with sheer finesse. He is strong, masculine and handsome, yet off-putting with his cockiness, arrogance, narcissism, two-faced persona and sadistic nature.  Josh Gad plays Gaston´s side-kick LeFou with gay abandon.

The Beast is ghastly, yet exudes warmth and a heart-touching vulnerability that makes you want to protect him from the harsh judgement of the world. His nobility does not go unnoticed. Neither does his strong bearing, chivalry and righteous character.

He becomes every bit, yours-ever-so-truly ‘Prince Charming’ when he magically transforms back to his stately princely appearance.

Together, Ella and her Prince make a beautiful, love-struck couple who have you rooting for them and their sparkling romance ever so pure, pristine and genuine.

Emma Watson is the real star of the movie playing Belle with élan. She makes a refreshingly cool feminist who is not outright aggressive in her words and approach. She lets her beliefs, virtues and actions do the loud talking.

Here are some virtues which make Emma Watson as Belle such a great role model –

Intelligence : Books are Belle’s best friend. She sets a great example for young girls by choosing books over diamonds or for that matter, any person as her best friend. She is innovative as she makes her life easier by inventing her own version of the washing machine to do her laundry so that she can utilise that time in reading books instead.

Born to stand out and not fit in : In a village full of illiterate and small-minded people, Belle is an outright reject. She is a woman far ahead of her time and place. An open-mined, free thinker! So, quite naturally, she is the ‘funny one’ because people don’t understand or identify with her. Belle is not afraid to stand out and alone.

Dignity personified : She has the village’s most eligible bachelor, Gaston, salivating after her. But, she doesn’t throw away her dignity for money, looks, name or fame like the other beautiful girls in the village. Belle is dignity personified. While she despises him with all her heart, the girl politely tries to shoo him away every single time he tries to woo her.

Confidence : The scene where Belle goes right on top of a mountain and declares to the Universe that she is looking for much more than provincial life! The girl clearly has the guts to dream big and better still, has the bold confidence needed for achieving her dreams. This scene for me was highly reminiscent of The Sound of Music’s Maria, who prances around the peaks of the Swiss alps in a similar fashion singing  ‘I have confidence in me‘.

Fearless : Belle is proof that girls are not just sugar, sweet and spice, but also possess nerves of steel. Call her foolish or fearless, the girl does not think twice about being locked in a dingy, dark castle with a hideous Beast. Better still, she’s making valiant plans to escape from the dungeon, disappearing into the deep dark woods in the night, chased by hungry wolves. She isn’t fearful of speaking her mind – loud and clear. She is bold and sassy despite her dainty appearance.

Classy : Belle is a classy woman. She doesn’t throw herself in front of any man, including Gaston who has scores of beautiful women and men (Ahem!) vying for his attention. She will not let any man walk all over her and disrespect her. She expects to be treated with equal respect and dignity in her relationships. She is no trophy girlfriend or wife. She is self-assured, without feeling the incessant need to grab eyeballs or attention. She doesn’t try to make others feel jealous or inferior. She certainly doesn’t put down others to make herself look or seem better. She is articulate having depth in her conversations and is independent. The lady is all about etiquette and manners.

Heart of gold: Belle is a compassionate woman. She enjoys helping young girls develop a love for books and reading. Charity begins at home for her. While destiny played dirty and took her mother away, it compensated her with an immensely supportive and loving father. And she doesn’t break her father’s confidence and trust. She loves her old father and is there by his side as his strong support system. She wants to help Lumiere, Candelabra, the Beast etc. be released from the curse.

Wonderful life partner: Belle doesn’t fall in love for all the wrong reasons – looks, money or fame. She loves for all the right reasons and with both her mind and heart. It is certainly not love at first sight for her when she sees the Beast as she eventually falls in love with his virtues. She makes an understanding, affectionate, patient and supportive partner to the Beast and vice versa. She is extremely loyal and keeps her promise by returning to the Beast after saving her father.

Beauty: Cleopatra’s beauty was not exactly incomparable. What was incomparably beautiful about her though was her irresistible charm, intelligence, persuasiveness and the sweetness in her tone, voice and conduct.

Similarly, Belle is an unconventional beauty, sparkling not with diamonds, expensive clothes or any of the exterior razzmatazz, but with her shining inner beauty. Belle finds beauty in her Beast and sees the Beast in the externally handsome Gaston. The Beast is not perfect. He has a short temper but he is human after all. Belle sees the heart beyond all the external beastliness and flaws and finds beauty within.

Disney, here’s a big shout-out and thank you for restoring that old classic Disney charm and class in The Beauty and the Beast. There are so many tales to be retold to this new generation.

Bring on some of that old world charm and magic all over again.

Yes, I do believe in fairy tales and happily ever afters!

Photos courtesy Disney Movies.