15 Comments

  1. Annette Warkentin

    Exquisite! Beautiful! Deeply enriching! Thank you for this perspective !

  2. Moviegoer

    Well, I saw the film two weeks ago on opening night. It was my first time ever seeing a film in 3D and I enjoyed it very much. If you ask me, the whole “gay thing” with the Beauty and the Beast live action film was blown way out of proportion by the news media, and those who are homophobic and judgmentally freaking out need to just stop it! Anyone who goes to the film will see that it does not support a GLBT agenda. If anything, the flamboyant version of customarily buffoonish Le Fou in the live action film could be seen as a mocking caricature, a stereotype of those who have a same sex attraction. Quite frankly, I’m surprised those in the GLBT community haven’t taken offense yet…but give it time, I suppose. At any rate, the take away lesson from that minor storyline could very well be “be careful whom you choose to befriend” and that’s true in both the animated and live action version. All this business of seeing homoeroticism in the film is ridiculous! It’s clear that friendship with Gaston and LeFou is not a sexualized one, but rather a dysfunctional one of bully and sycophant. Gaston…the true “beast” in this film, is a total narcissist and Le Fou was the narcissistic supply, the fall guy. As for the main story between Bell and the ‘beast’ Prince, it’s still heteronormative (although bordering on beastiality which some cheerless literalists may find problematic.) As for the bit with LeFou dancing with another men, that’s just dumb to consider that gay. Lots of legitimate dances all over the world are the kind that are done only with the same gender and in no way does it make the dance or the dancers “gay.” At any rate, it’s only a movie. I say people need to quit overthinking this whole thing. Stop with the overanalyzing “tales that are old as time” and just go to the movie without any pre-conceived judgments from the media stories. You might actually enjoy the escape.

    1. While I mostly agree with you about the media distortions, I’m not sure you’re right that there is not an explicitly sexual relationship between Gaston and LeFou. If you carefully follow how LeFou dramatizes his song in praise of Gaston, I think you will find otherwise. But that’s a relatively unimportant detail. The theme of gender nonconformity is broader than that – it encompasses Gaston’s disgusting self-love, the effeminate rococo men’s clothes, the bruitsh, manish, women of the village, and especially the beast himself. The whole movie is about men and women who aren’t acting their proper parts, until at the end, when they learn to be who they really are. But the same can be said about most any fairy tale, I don’t doubt.

      Andrew

  3. Celtic Cate

    Thank you for the wonderful review of the movie. My ten-year-old Orthodox granddaughter gave me her review of the film yesterday (of course, missing all that we adults interpret and just loving the characters, the beauty, and the love). I haven’t seen it yet, but I’m so glad to have read your review first. With a degree in English lit and working as an academic editor, I’ve always seen a common thread running through fairy tales and old romance literature: the fall and redemption of mankind. (How can you read or see “Sleeping Beauty” and not think of Christ?) I am so happy to read a well-balanced review by a fellow Orthodox who embraces the beauty and truth and leaves the rest behind, just as the Israelites took the gold from Egypt, leaving slavery behind. That is how we should approach everything in our modern culture, whether art, film, or literature. Thank you again!

  4. Michael

    Adults can understand this theme and even explain it to their children but the bottom line is that our children should not be exposed to the act of homosexuality, as if it is a common and “normal” sin. Homosexuality has a deep psychological roots and should not be normalized in any way shape or form, specially in movies for children.

    I suppose the same thing could be said about blood and violence, to which I also say that children should not be exposed to as a normal part of our lives.

    If some sort of perverted thing happens in a child’s life (or they see such a thing) than it needs to be dealt with, but Lord have mercy on us when we begin to over expose our children to the dark side of life.

  5. Kris Forbes

    Very interesting- lots of good points. My only concern is the part that reads:

    “Sure, there are still a few human foibles – someone has a clingy wife who can’t dance, one of Gaston’s old thugs still wants to dance with another man, but these are now things we can smile and laugh at, for beauty has triumphed, and winter will never reign again.”

    I am not sure we can “smile and laugh at” what is meant by Disney to sanction homosexual relationships (multiple innuendos and 2 men dancing together). True, evil is shown as evil (a distorting of the truth) through most of the film, followed by the triumph of good, but if it is truly a healed community now living out the truth of their gender identities this final scene would not have the men dancing together.

    I think most of the homosexual undertones would go over most kids heads and adults- especially going in with this essay in mind- could find truth and beauty in the film. But ultimately Disney’s motivation is to normalize homosexuality (even in the smallest way) and supporting this film only paves the way for them produce films that push the boundary further and further.
    The author of the article feels that in the film, “beauty has triumphed and winter will never reign again”, but today’s culture is chill with the winter wind. I’m going to have to bundle up and skip this one.

    1. Well, maybe, but I’m pretty sure that men in drag dancing together is among the world’s oldest forms of humor. It is certainly not lacking in early Disney cartoons, nor in comedic theatre going back hundreds of years. Seems to me, there are two ways of calling out distortion for what it is – you can condemn it as evil, or you can laugh at it as absurd.

  6. Fr. Garabed Kochakian

    An excellent read through eyes of Faith not fantasy. You nailed it! Not to the Cross of suffering souls, but the Cross of Victory:
    Christ the way to Beauty in every beast transformed to God’s image. ..Love for God with all our hearts souls minds and Might

  7. Leia Tatiana Thomas

    Well-written and insightful. I unexpectedly watched it a couple weeks ago with a friend. I rarely visit the theatre so I’m glad I saw it. Good timing 😉

  8. Zoe

    Wow. I haven’t seen it yet, but expect to in a few weeks. I’ve had some concerns, especially since I have children eager to see it. This is an excellent preparation. Thanks!

  9. Padraic

    I was trained as a folklorist, and in studying narrative, I’ve seen that fairy tales are studied pretty intensely for their sociocultural issues, particularly around the area of gender and sexuality. What I’ve seen is that there’s an even bigger issue beyond a couple of seconds of footage: the fairy tale is about a woman who falls in love with someone that has taken her prisoner. And when freed, she comes back. That’s a pretty common trend among abuse sufferers, as well as people suffering from Stockholm syndrome. Which is the opposite of sacramental marriage. Jack Zipes, a well-known fairy tale scholar, has spoken about how these tales are full of abuse, not only to women, but also towards children. The stuff that goes on in the original tales would make for a pretty large confession. And these tales are a huge part of our popular culture!

    Why is no one spiritually concerned about this larger issue? It’s almost like the few controversial seconds are inadvertently a red herring to distract from the overall issue: the tale is horribly misogynistic, promotes abuse, and demeans women. And on top of all of this, the princess culture is already full of major issues. That’s for another post.

    1. I’m sorry, but your line of reasoning here doesn’t make a bit of sense. The beast did not seek to imprison Belle. She willingly gives up her freedom to be the beast’s prisoner. And he treats her well, and releases her almost as soon as she asks. She runs back to save his life, not because she’s dependent on him. How is this not at least broadly symbolic of sacramental marriage and Christian love?

      I would point out that my post is about finding beauty in this film. In seeking beauty, I find goodness, and Christ. Your approach appears to be seeking ugliness, identifying what it worst about the story. I have no doubt that if you look for ugliness in old stories, you will find plenty of it there. But this path can lead only to anger and pain.

      1. Padraic

        I admire your quest to find beauty in the film, but aren’t we supposed to try to find beauty in all people, not just the ones who do what we approve of? That applies for the Gastons of the world, too; rather than pointing out their behaviors and supposed depravity as being less than desirable, perhaps the real response is “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.”

  10. Nick Xylas

    I haven’t seen the remake yet, but the feminist subtext was certainly there in the 1993 cartoon. Belle didn’t want to be trapped in the sort of submissive gender role promoted as “traditional” by those ignorant of history.

  11. Michael Baclig

    I work for Disney and I am an Orthodox Christian. This is the best review I have ever read of any Disney movie. Thank you for writing this article. I personally agree 100% with everything in it. Well done!

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