Beauty and the Beast is my favorite fairytale, and though I adore the Disney version, there are few adaptions that honor the orginal story. Before I go into too much detail about the movie, I want to introduce a little history.
Beauty and the Beast began as a short story wriiten by Madame Gabrielle Suzanne de Villeneuve in a magazine for women in 1740. It was inspired by folklore and mythology. In fact, one of the earliest versions of this fairy tale is the myth Cupid and Psyche. Many cultures all over the world have some derivative of this tale, but Beauty and the Beast is among the most popular and well known stories.
Villeneuve's story was later adapted into a short story written by Madame Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumount who is better known as the tale's creator and had it abridged and published in a book for children in 1756 .
Beauty and the Beast has evolved over the years from fairy tale to novel to Television show to film. But in France, the most well known adaption, besides the Disney version, is a black and white film under the name of La Belle et la Bete made in 1946. In fact, this version was the adaption that Disney used as an outline to create the animated classic Beauty and the Beast.
I recommend watching the 1946 film and reading the original tale before watching the new 2014 film, because you may be confused, and so many people criticize this film based on the Disney version, which is very different from the actual fairytale.
While this movie is true to the original tale, it has it's own mythology and a new story behind why the Beast was cursed, but it echoes some of the genius of Hayao Miazaki's film Howl's Moving Castle, while creating a story of its own.
This film is beautiful. Not only are the special effects like stepping into a painting, the costumes are elaborately detailed, the cinematography is well done, and the acting is wonderful.
Lea Seydoux is a clever, kind and beautiful Belle, and Vincent Cassel is a mysterious, intriguing and layered Beast. Both stars shine in their roles, and make the characters their own.
I give it four out of five roses. A beautiful movie, timeless tale and wonderful adaption.