There are very few stories that are as precious to me as the story of “Beauty and the Beast.”
As a little girl, I was enamored by a character so similar to me—a girl with brown hair who loves to read and dreams of “adventure in the great wide somewhere.” I watched as she defined bravery, loyalty and compassion, and I cheered as the Beast finally learned to love and be loved.
As a sophomore in high school, I had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of taking part in a production of my favorite fairy tale. Even though I was only a chorus member, I had chills as I relived the story on a stage.
Belle and the Beast’s story of true love and true beauty enchanted me from the beginning. Even now as a young adult, I am moved to tears by the animated classic’s beautiful music, impactful characters and compelling plot.
So to say I was excited for the new live-action remake of “Beauty and the Beast” is an understatement. And to say I wasn’t disappointed is an even bigger one.
The remake beautifully weaves the classic elements of the original story together with emotional backstories, breathtaking scenery, ornate costumes and powerful music.
Once again, I was enchanted from the very beginning.
And, apparently, so was the rest of the world. “Beauty and the Beast” has now topped the box office two weeks in a row, and it doesn’t appear to be slowing down.
The movie’s success hasn’t freed it from controversy, however, and before the film was even released, people made judgments based on the over exaggeration of a “moment.” They released their own cries of “kill the beast” toward a character whose transformation of heart and conscience is just as moving as the Beast’s transformation from arrogance to humility and love.
In a review of “Beauty and the Beast” on her personal blog, Sarah Cinnamon addresses this controversy in a beautiful way. She argues that, instead of looking for the moments of ugliness and sin, we should view the film from a new perspective.
She writes, “When we look for evil, we will find it—every time…. When we look for God, He can and will be found. Every time. Put that lens of ‘looking for Him’ on—it is amazing what He will allow you to see.”
During my third time viewing the film (don’t judge), I did just so. And I found that Cinnamon’s words could not be truer.
With this lens, “Beauty and the Beast” moves from an enchanting love story about a beast and a bookworm to a story rich in truth. Its themes connect the audience to the true “tale as old as time”—a tale of hope, freedom, love, redemption and joy.
When we “look for God” in “Beauty and the Beast,” we can find that these four themes shine brighter than the ugliness we can try to pick out.
Even those who aren’t specifically looking for God in the film can find a glimpse of him.
I love the way A.O. Scott puts it in his review for the New York Times: “It looks good, moves gracefully and leaves a clean and invigorating aftertaste. I almost didn’t recognize the flavor: I think the name for it is joy.”
At its core, “Beauty and the Beast” is a tale of a broken, selfish man who can only be redeemed through love. And isn’t that the tale of humanity?
Maybe our connection to the joy that radiates from “Beauty and the Beast” is a result of our role in a greater narrative.
Like the Beast/Prince, we are in need of a saving love. We’re desperate for the type of joy that only comes from new life.
As Belle and the now human Prince waltz around the ballroom, Mrs. Potts sings the following lyrics: “Winter turns to spring. Famine turns to feast. Nature points the way. Nothing left to say. Beauty and the Beast.”
Beneath the enthralling dances and the swooping camerawork of this scene lies the joy of restoration.
As I watched the scene and felt the tears begin to pool in my eyes, I couldn’t help but imagine how much more beautiful the scene will be when we dance for eternity with the One who makes all things new.
“Beauty and the Beast” gives us a glimpse of the joy and restoration that is waiting for us in eternity when we accept the power of love—the love that came down to Earth and died on a cross to save us from our ugliness and sin.
It’s why I believe audiences are so drawn to the story, and why I truly believe it is a “tale as old as time.”
Bailey Kaufman, a Hillsboro native, is editor of the Tabor College student newspaper this year.