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What is Christophe Gans’ ‘Beauty and the Beast’?

Beauty and the Beast is an old French fairy tale first published in the mid-1700s. Now the pages of this fairy tale are on the big screen thanks to French Silent Hill director Christophe Gans.

beauty and the beast film-poster-french-la-belle-et-la-bete

What Is Beauty and the Beast?

Beauty and the Beast tells the story of girl, Belle, meets Beast. Belle goes to live with the Beast after her father promised the Beast he would send a family member in return for stealing a rose from the castle’s garden.

Belle slowly falls in love with the Beast, and when it looks like the Beast is going to die, Belle tells the Beast she loves him just in time to save his life. They live happily ever after, like everyone always does in these stories.

Belle and the Beast dance in candlelit cave in Christophe Gans

How exciting there’s another version of Beauty and the Beast! I love the Disney version!

Hold it. Stop right there. Be warned! This movie is much darker than the Disney version you’re used to. Disney is known for watering down fairy tales to make them family-friendly entertainment. Christophe Gans is not Disney.

Gans’ last film, the 2006 horror mystery Silent Hill, is about a mother who loses her daughter in thick fog. This is not exactly light entertainment suitable for children. While Beauty and the Beast isn’t quite as dark as that, it’s definitely not all lightness and fluff like Disney’s version.

What Should I Expect?

Christophe Gans’ version of Beauty and the Beast is closer to its source text, the more popular 1756 abridged edition of the story. The look of the film is stunning, and the Beast is done incredibly well, even if he does look like an overgrown cat. In his early scenes, the Beast comes across as a bit of a monster, and this brings down the overall mood. Belle’s arrival at the castle begins to lift the mood again, but it’s a very long and slow process.

the beast who looks like an overgrown cat looking down at Belle in Beauty and the Beast

Dark places, such as the castle and the forest, are everywhere in the film. The settings mirror the themes of the story, and the tone is heavily skewed towards darkness. However, a small amount of relief is provided by Belle’s colorful dream sequences and costumes.

Is it Worth Checking Out?

It’s hard to say for certain. The film received rave reviews in its home country of France, but a mixed reception everywhere else. And it’s not hard to see why. The film really pushes its limits with a runtime of almost two hours. As beautiful as it looks, the pace of the story is just too slow in parts.

To quickly put this into perspective, Blade Runner runs at 117 minutes. That movie is based on Phillip K. Dick’s sci-fi novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? that comes in at roughly 210 pages. Beauty and the Beast runs for 112 minutes and is based on an abridgment of a 100-page fairy tale. While book length and movie runtime don’t always equate to much, in this case, looking at those numbers, it’s no wonder the math doesn’t add up to an engaging plot.

However, if you enjoy fairy tales, mythology, and films that look pretty, then you will probably enjoy this version of Beauty and the Beast.

Beauty and the Beast is now showing in select cinemas.


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