On Beauty and the Beast

All right, so I finally dragged my husband to see the live action Beauty and the Beast film. Belle is my favorite Disney princess of all time, with Mulan as a close second. (She’s technically not a princess, but she’s still amazing.) You can see the appeal; a girl living in a small town, who prefers reading over social functions and dreams of adventures. I felt a personal connection with this girl, and the love story between her and the Beast is just so sweet. I want to start by saying that I enjoyed the film. I understand why most of the changes were made and why some additions were thrown in there. That being said, there are definitely pros and cons.

  • Pro: The setting. I absolutely loved the details of the village, the enormity of the castle, the spookiness of the forest, the costumes, the colors. It was all amazing. I felt as if I had been transported into 19th century France.
  • Pro: The music. Everyone had beautiful voices. All the original songs were included, with the addition of three shorter musical numbers that immersed themselves flawlessly in the story. I was in awe at the musical talent and deliberateness in the score. It added to the magical-ness of the whole film.
  • Pro: The cast. I greatly admire Emma Watson, Sir Ian McKellen, Ewan McGregor, Luke Evans, and Emma Thompson. They all did an amazing job at bringing this animated story to life.
  • Pro: Beast’s past and Belle’s mother. I really liked how they elaborated on what happened to both of the main character’s mothers and how it impacted their childhood. It explained why the prince was the way that he was (without his mother’s influence, his father was able to warp the young boy into a miniature clone of himself) and it also explained why all of the servants in the castle were cursed too. Apparently, they did nothing to stop the prince’s transformation into a shallow, selfish man. The death of her mother explains Belle’s fascination with the world beyond her little village. (Her parents met and were married in Paris.) I believe it made these characters a little deeper and more relate-able.
  • Con: Belle’s affections toward the Beast. Throughout the part of the movie where they are getting to know each other, Belle’s character seems curious and amused, not necessarily like a girl who’s falling in love. There was just so much more emotion on the animated Belle’s face while she was singing and reading with the Beast. You can tell that her view has changed and now she’s starting to see good qualities in the Beast. By the time the famous evening of dancing comes along, she’s completely comfortable with their relationship and on the brink of falling in love. The teasing and more personal conversations that were added in the live action film were good. I enjoyed them and I’m glad they were added as it showed the two talking about deeper things other than books. I just wish Emma Watson had expressed a little more emotion during those scenes other than playful amusement. Then it would be more believable when she tells the Beast that she loves him. It seemed to me that the Beast was more infatuated with her than she was with him, especially after that passionate solo he sang while she was galloping away from his castle.
  • Con: Ewan McGregor’s French accent. I loved him in Star Wars and Mulin Rouge! He can sing, dance, and fight with a lightsaber. He’s a great actor. He brought a playful and determined edge to the live action Lumiere that I loved. I just couldn’t believe his French accent. It seemed too forced to me, too fake, like he could have used some lessons. Everyone else’s accents were believable (although, now I’m wondering why Belle didn’t have an accent…), but I couldn’t buy Lumiere’s.
  • Con: Maurice. In the animated film, Belle’s father is very smart. He’s a bit oblivious of the world around him, but that is often one of the key characteristics of an inventor. They are creative, driven, and not too interested in anything other than their work and their loved ones. In the live action film, Maurice is a grieving husband and tinkerer. We see him working on a beautiful music box that portrays a personal scene of his past (an evening where he painted a portrait of his wife and infant daughter), and several of his drawings are on display in his work room. He’s more of an sad artist than a brilliant and misunderstood scientist. This change in the character also changed the relationship between him and Belle. Belle’s the adult; she takes care of him, makes sure he has enough to eat, and assists him in his tinkering when his mind isn’t entirely focused on what he’s working on. It made him more of a blah character than an interesting one. I understand that it added to Belle’s mother’s story, having Maurice be forever changed by the death of his one true love, but in reality it wasn’t as important to the story. At least, I didn’t think it was.

 

All in all, I think it’s safe to say that both films did the story justice. I’m looking forward to the other live action Disney movies that are coming soon. (Mulan especially!)

Adulting

The baby shower was going to start in twenty minutes and I didn’t have anything to wrap my present with. I had some tape, a bow, a lot of colored tissue paper, and a plethora of “Merry Christmas” gift bags, and that was pretty much it. I’d just been to the grocery store that morning and had remembered to snatch a card, but somehow I’d forgotten to get a gift bag. Fortunately, my sister-in-law (who was driving us both to this event) graciously offered to stop by the 99 cent store on the corner. I hopped out of the car, ran in, snatched the biggest baby gift bag I could find, and zipped into the check out line. Once outside, I stood at the curb and waited for my sister-in-law to come around the parking lot. I hurried up to her car when she was near enough, tucking a stray curl behind my ear.

That’s when I caught my reflection in the passenger’s side window.

I don’t see myself as an adult. I may be twenty-two years old but, physically, I’ve looked exactly the same since I was fifteen. I’ve had my own car, my own apartment, my own bills, and my own job ever since I was nineteen. I’ll be celebrating two years of marriage this May. I live in a four bedroom, two bathroom rental house with a husband, a very old, very fat tabby cat, and a hyperactive miniature Australian shepherd who can’t produce tears. (We still don’t know why. She was very sick with an unknown illness for the first six months of her life and we’re thinking all the different medications we had to give her might have damaged her tear-ducts somehow, but we can’t prove that. We should really get her to a dog eye specialist but we don’t have that kind of money, so we have to resort to giving her eye drops three to four times a day. Yes, we love this dog.) I plan meals and manage finances while balancing 30 hours a week at the office and 9 credit hours per semester.

I have goals for the future which involve finishing school, becoming a published, well-known author, and helping my husband the police officer raise our four kids. It all sounds very adultly, right? And yet, I still see myself as that fifteen-year-old girl who thought Twilight was the greatest love story ever told and didn’t know anything about the real world.

So when I looked into that car window and saw a young lady, all dolled up and ready to attend a baby shower, I blinked in surprise. Because, for a second there, I actually looked like an adult.

My husband believes we never really grow up. We might physically change and become more responsible as life demands, but that little kid lives on inside of us. Sometimes its voice is loud and its influence is strong, while at other times we can suppress it more successfully. With all the “adulting” memes out there, I think he might be right. I find that I feel the youngest when I’m geeking out about Star Wars or when I’m daydreaming about The Magical World of Harry Potter theme park or when I’m listening to the kind of emo music I used to listen to as a teenager or when I visit my old haunts in Mexico. That little kid inside me sure loves to throw a fit when the alarm goes off at 7 a.m. But then there’s the voice of reason, the voice of the Adult, reminding me of all the things I have to get done and how much work will pile up if I listen to the Kid and simply pull the covers over my head.

If I take a good look at the choices I’ve made throughout my life, I can honestly say that I’ve listened to the Adult more often than I’ve listened to the Kid. My husband often has to tell me when it’s time to relax or take a break or set the schedule aside and just hang out. Indulge the Kid. So why don’t I feel like an Adult more often?

Good question…

I think it’s because of the conviction that I don’t know anything. All right, that’s not entirely true. I’ve been in college for three years and have worked for three different establishments, and have read more books than I can count. After all that, I should know something, but every day I encounter new things. Every day it seems I come across an article, a person, a conversation heard in passing, or an event that reminds me of just how much I still have to learn about life, love, politics, insurance, government, taxes, credit, education, literature, creative writing, finance, morality, the Bible, my family members and friends, even my husband. There are still topics I don’t understand. There’s still stuff in this world that I haven’t discovered yet. It leaves me feeling like a child who’s still figuring it all out.

Sometimes I have to wonder: will I ever feel like an adult? Will I ever feel like I’ve got this life thing figured out? A part of me would like to have the answers to everything. It might make life simpler. But another part of me hopes that I won’t ever reach that point. Because what is someone supposed to do after they’ve discovered everything there is to know? Maybe that’s why it’s so important the keep that little kid around. After all, without it’s sense of wonder, humility, and discovery, how are we supposed to grow?

So I finally cracked

I’m not a blogger. The cool authors blog and all the articles about becoming a cool author recommend blogging. But still…I wouldn’t know what to blog about, I always thought. My life is simple; I go to work, I do online school, I hang out with my husband, I go to church, I occasionally go out with friends, I watch my shows, I read books, I work on my manuscripts, and repeat. I’m not the kind of person who has strong opinions about too many important things. Who would want to read my thoughts on politics? They are few and far between. Would anyone care to know how I felt about the latest Star Wars movie? (It was sad but I kind of expected everyone to die because none of the new characters came out in A New Hope. If I just spoiled it for someone, I’m sorry but it is January and if you haven’t seen it yet there might be something wrong with you.) Despite all the reasons why I was sure I’d be the worst blogger in history, one thought kept resurfacing.

Nobody knows who you are.

I used to find comfort in this. As an extremely self-conscious introvert, I spent my teenage years trying to go unnoticed. I hid behind my books and my bangs, and thought an awful lot about what I was going to say before I spoke (if I spoke at all). I was terrified of sounding or looking stupid. My big sister tried to tell me that everyone sounded or looked stupid sometimes. “So long as you shake off the embarrassment and go with it, nobody will think less of you, Ted.” (More on the nickname later.) I didn’t start believing her until about four years ago, after I’d graduated from high school, moved away from home, and had dared to speak without thinking on more than one occasion. It turned out she was right. Nobody looked down on me for saying something silly or for being a klutz or for laughing at a really lame joke. I guess people thought I was genuine and sort of liked me for it.

The result of this was a simple but revolutionary discovery: I’m a semi-likable person with skills. A very short list of skills, but skills nonetheless.

This new thought made it suddenly okay to be noticed by other people. It was this thought that gave me the courage to join writer’s forums, enter my short stories into contests, surround myself with beta readers, and hunt for an internship at a publishing company. I’ve been given validation and harsh criticism. I’ve learned lots about the writing industry only to find out that I don’t know anything. But one thing has become very clear to me, especially in the last few weeks. I’ll never become a successful writer without building my readership and the only way to do that is by being known.

So here I am.

Starting a blog.

Attempting to join the cool authors.

Putting myself out there.

Wrestling with the teenager inside of me who still wants to hide.

Should I post this? Was I funny enough? I hope I didn’t offend anyone…EEK! THIS IS STRESSFUL! Forget it. I don’t have to become a published author. I’ll just keep my writings to myself and bury my head in the sand.

Take a chill pill and relax into the back seat, girl. It’s going to be a long ride.