Emma Watson On Belle's New Backstory and Stockholm Syndrome Issue

Emma Watson On Belle's New Backstory and Stockholm Syndrome Issue

By Robert Dougherty Feb 17, 2017 01:01 PM

In exactly one month, audiences will see just how the new live action Beauty and the Beast matches up with and differs from the animated one. However, Emma Watson already gave away some significant first act differences in a new cover story for Entertainment Weekly.

It had already been revealed that in this update, Belle is the 'crazy' inventor of the family instead of Kevin Kline's version of her father. But while Maurice was merely dismissed as a kook for his inventions back then, Belle is considered "dangerous. Subversive. Beastly, even" for her "ideas and independence" as EW's Anthony Breznican puts it.

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In the 1991 version, the whole town doesn't turn into an angry mob until Gaston rallies them against the Beast. Yet this time, they unite in anger much faster to destroy Belle's invention of a washing machine, which she makes so herself and other girls will have less time to do chores and more time to read. But as Watson says “They don’t think women should read and it goes further than that,” to the point where they are actively trying to "break her spirit and trying to push her and mold her into a more ‘acceptable’ version of herself.”

Of course, recent months have now made such material much more relevant and timely than perhaps first intended. Director Bill Condon also points out that the town's anti-intelligence sentiment is just the beginning, since "when there’s a real threat that unifies everybody, they start to look for other people who make them uncomfortable."

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Condon certainly has more than enough time to build on such themes, since his Beauty and the Beast is almost 40 minutes longer than the animated one. But while there is surely more of an explicit feminist message in the opening act, there remains the matter of the second and third in the Beast's castle, which some still consider to be a story of Stockholm Syndrome rather than true love.

Entertainment Weekly

Watson admitted she "really grappled with" how the love story between Belle and Dan Stevens's Beast would be handled at first. But she argues it isn't a Stockholm Syndrome situation because Belle "keeps her independence" and "keeps that freedom of thought" in fighting against the Beast, and "is never under the delusion that she deserves bad treatment." In fact, the two are equally "really irritating each other and really not liking each other very much" until they finally start getting along.

Once that happens, they realize "They both feel like outsiders in their own world," according to Watson, which is the kind of understanding Belle certainly couldn't get in her own town. She certainly can't find it in Luke Evans's Gaston, who "doesn’t have any empathy" because he's "never suffered" as Watson diagnoses.

Entertainment Weekly

Suffering certainly isn't a problem for today's Beauty and the Beast, whether under a magical curse or an even more patriarchal and provincial life than in the early 90s. Whether that makes the singing, dancing and love that comes from it all the sweeter, audiences will find out starting on March 17.

Entertainment Weekly

About the Author
Robert Dougherty is a freelance writer, critic, TV and movie fanatic who worked at Yahoo Voices/Associated Content from 2008-2014, writing stories on current ...
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