Beauty and the Beast: A Traditional Tale

A few years ago I watched the play The Cripple of Inishmaan with a friend in London. The play starred Daniel Radcliffe, who most people will know as the titular character in the Harry Potter film series.  In The Cripple of Inishmaan, Harry Potter was nowhere to be seen and Radcliffe gave a very good performance.

Radcliffe’s co-worker in Harry Potter was Emma Watson who played Harry’s friend Hermione Granger. Watson now appears in a Disney re-creation of Beauty and the Beast, due for release in cinemas on 14 April. During the film, in which Watson sings beautifully, I found myself constantly comparing Belle to the young, wild-haired girl of Hogwarts. As Belle in Beauty and the Beast, Watson speaks with the same perfect elocution as she did in Harry Potter, and shows the same half smile as young Hermione did.

How interesting then that in this film the character Belle has a coming-of-age experience (not from Hermione you understand!), maturing from a young girl into a woman, but still retaining certain essential characteristics. This version of the story explains that both Belle and the Beast (Dan Stevens) are who they are because of their parentage; Beast self-centred and angry, Belle considerate and creative. And it is Belle who helps Beast become his better self, in a story that prizes love and goodness above selfishness and evil.

Beast’s servants – all turned into talking furniture because of a curse – and the townsfolk of Belle’s village, provide the humour in the story. They also prevent Beauty and the Beast from becoming an all-out good versus evil story by showing that we are all capable of good or evil depending on circumstances and force of character.

The special effects, costumes and setting are good to watch and the music is enchanting. But there was something of a ‘same-old, same-old’ feeling in this fairly faithful rendition of the original story. After Shrek, which turned fairy tales on their heads, declaring them a ‘load o’ …’, it’s hard to go back to the traditional stories.

The final Hobbit resounds with a fitting and exciting finish

A review by Brenda Daniels

Image supplied by Ster Kinekor

                                                              Image supplied by Ster-Kinekor

The Hobbit, a book by J R R Tolkien, was written for children. But this fantasy adventure moves beyond a simple child’s tale into a grand adventure incorporating elements of war, greed, loyalty, bravery and friendship.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is the final instalment in the film trilogy, based on the book, and directed by Peter Jackson. And it includes everything the book does and more.

In this movie, the audience sees the surprising result of the death of the dragon Smaug: a converging of several armies, all wanting a part of the massive treasure contained in the Dwarves’ old home of Erebor. Elf, man, dwarf and wargs meet on a huge scale at the foot of the imposing stronghold and fiercely battle for supremacy.

Meanwhile, Thorin Oakenshield, the leader of the little band of dwarves becomes obsessed with his reclaimed treasure and subsequently neglects his duties and relationships. To avert the catastrophic consequences of war Bilbo the Hobbit uses his magic ring, a precious stone, and a good dose of bravery to broker a peace between man, elf and dwarf. And in the process deepens an important friendship.

The film version incorporates a number of elements of the The Lord of the Rings, tying the two stories together nicely and forming a well-rounded prequel to the brilliant, hugely successful Ring trilogy.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is a resounding and fitting end to the The Hobbit films and is Peter Jackson’s best. Enjoy.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies releases at Ster-Kinekor cinemas and IMAX nationwide on Friday, 12 December. The running time is two hours, 24 minutes.