Posted in Movies

Throwback to a Tale as Old as Time | Beauty and the Beast

It is a tale as old as time. The tale of the Ugly Duckling, the misfit, the circular peg in a square hole. But that is the thing about Great Stories orAncient Tales, they are the same all this while. And yet we like to return to them over and over again. There is something about them, their predictability makes us feel safe, almost. We know what comes after what and we love to know why does it come like that. Over and over again. It is almost as if we are in regulated and constant need of the same lessons over and over again. Like it was food for the soul and the soul went hungry every few hours or days or months or even years maybe? But it does go hungry again and that is when we go back to the these Stories and Tales, or find ourselves in a serendipitous meeting by chance.

This year we have given a throwback to one of the oldest tales we all have told and retold as a generation, the tale of the Beauty and the Beast. A tale of two misfits, two Ugly Ducklings coming together in a charming tale of love.

I had to go. I had to go see this movie even though I had watched it in bad print off of the torrent sites. Even though I had the older animated version of the Disney movie already downloaded and watched recently. Even though it meant I had to go watch the movie all by myself, because my parents would not be interested in the story. Even though the movie would be dubbed in my native language, at least it would be in 3D and good picture quality. Even though I would buy popcorn and cold drinks costlier than my ticket itself. I had to go.

And so I went. I went to see how was the throwback after all. Was it good enough? Did it bring something new to the Great Story, a new dimension, a new way of seeing or how did the Tale change when seen in 3D with real life characters instead of the old animated circles and ellipses? Would it touch my heart in new ways? Would it remind of the first time I read the story in a big, old yellow fairy tale book? Would it bring tears to my eyes like it always did? And most importantly would it make me Believe in the beauty of art and power of storytelling, all over again? Especially in this age of ours when artificial intelligence is challenging the very foundations of our artistic media with its

And most importantly would it make me Believe in the beauty of art and power of storytelling, all over again? Especially in this age of ours when artificial intelligence is challenging the very foundations of our artistic media with its bots who are so close to creating art and writing stories, challenging the artists to come up with something completely out of the blue or become extinct with time.

I know, a bit too much to be expected from a single art piece. But then art is known to transform the world with only a handful of demonstrations which are only duplicated for the time that follows until another transformation happens.

So the parts of the story that were already known and expected, did not quite bore me as much as I had thought they would. The elaborate musicals that followed the intensely emotional scenes were passable and not so moving especially because I was listening to dubbed lyrics and not the original ones in English. So I let it pass because with a benefit of doubt. And since I live in a small town, the 3D quality was also not quite mindblowing.

And yet the moments of magic did come. They were quietly moving and beautifully written. But they were few. So this may not be the revolutionising art piece, but it would be a reminder of the grandeur of the past that the storytellers of our generation need to prove themselves upto.

Moments of Magic | Misfits Fitting Together

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First, was when Belle and Beast are having a conversation, in just the company of each other, and in a deserted land away from all the square pegs of the world. Beast is quite obviously discriminated against for his horrible looks. But that is not what makes him sad. He is sad because people stop smiling and laughing in his presence. And it is not because he looks a certain way or smells a certain way that puts people off to stop smiling. It is his rage and uncontrolled temper that scares away smiles and laughter.

To which Belle replies with a dilemma of her own. Quite opposite, but a dilemma nevertheless. She talks of the laughter that ensues in her absence as well, but not that of joy but of scorning and taunting. People do not like her ways of having a dream to want something more than the small town. So they taunt her for being so naive. At the same wanting to keep their children away from her naivety, fearing it would any day turn into rebellion. They don’t let her read, her one true love in life.

That was a beautiful moment because it did not go by the regular understanding of the story where only the ugly beast is rescued by the Beauty. But they are both rescuing each other.

Moments of Magic | Sorting the Childhood Skeletons

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Then comes the time he offers a small artefact of his magical kingdom, the magical world book that could take you to any place of your choice. He asks her if there was anywhere she wanted to go. And she chooses a place from her childhood. Almost reminding me of the Skeleton Woman being discovered in Belle’s mind – an old, horrifying wish buried deep in her psyche. What happened of her mother? Why was she abandoned as a baby by her own mother? And she finds out the truth, the Skeleton is removed from its hiding place and put together in place like a real Skeleton. She finds out her mother was ill and did not wish for her daughter to catch her illness as well. So she chooses to die alone and asks her husband to take Belle away immediately. The broken Skeleton is slowly fixed. And then it was time for the muscles to form over the Skeleton. And it is the passionate heart of the Beast that does the job, as in the Skeleton Woman’s story, where the drum-like heartbeat of the fisherman is used to summon flesh for the naked bones of the Skeleton Woman.

The Beast apologises for separating her father from Belle. He apologises for thinking him to be a thief and realises his mistake. And when time comes for her to ask for being set free so she could go back to her father in grave trouble, he sets her free. His passion is put to test and he passes. It is another way of saying you set, what you love, free. But it is also about realising why did you want to cage something you loved, in the first place? He mistook her father to be a thief and punished him with a life sentence, which was taken over by Belle as a punishment for herself, in exchange for her father’s freedom. But when Beast realises there was no offense done, but just an act of pure love that inspired Belle’s father to pluck the rose, he lets her go as well. Even though now it means he was going to be condemned to a lifelong sentence of becoming a beast himself. He accepts it. And this passion gives Belle the strength to stand before a whole society, her old ways, her old townspeople as a whole and speak the truth. She confronts the evil Gaston who wanted to capture her with his misogynistic love and succeeds in returning to her true love.

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In return, she helps him set in place his own broken Skeleton by teaching him to face his own self as a Beast and accepting him. She does so by accepting him, herself. She drinks soup in a way he can too. She helps him realise his main problem was his uncontrollable temper, which was in his control to fix. Unlike his beast self which was beyond his power to control. She realises he is cursed because he was hurt as a child. And she accepted him because she knew people with broken hearts could become beasts themselves – morose, sulken and non-believing beasts – who are in need of love and acceptance. She sets his old, buried Skeleton back in place.

Moments of Magic | Raging Against the Dying Light

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And then finally the magic happens when the castle transforms under the first rays of the Sun. There was dark and now there is light, at last. Both within and without the castle. The wisdom is restored to the mind that had gone astray, that of the Beast and the townspeople. The magical curse of ignorance has been lifted, with love and passion. The Sun is up in the sky again, after a long, dark night. And the words of a certain Wise Old Man, cannot help but resound in my heart and bones –

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

~ Dylan Thomas ~

~

Beauty and the Beast was a record-breaking success in its first week of release this year. Although I was disappointed to see that it did not make it my cut of a revolutionary art piece, it was nevertheless one of the most brilliant throwbacks to the beauty and power of art. And that of storytelling as well. Technology and its advances made the experience of this storytelling nothing like before. And yet there is something that is required of a revolutionary art piece, that is a revolutionary thought in the storytelling and just the language of its communication.

I think I will have to wait a long time till that revolution rises in an artist, till someone is ready to step aside themselves and let the Wilderness speak through them the words of Wisdom which will set our human race free, from the curse of the dark night of ignorant bliss.

Join me on my journey through art pieces and my experiences of them, twice a week.

 

 

 

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