Meet the beloved characters of Disney’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’

As Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast has bowed on the big screen, here are the official descriptions of the beloved fairy tale’s characters.

And when searching for talent to bring the beloved animated characters to life on screen, the filmmakers canvassed the worlds of film, television, music and theatre to find the performers best suited for each role.

BELLE (Emma Watson) is a bright and spirited young woman who dreams of adventure, romance and a world far beyond the confines of her French village. Fiercely independent and keeping to herself for the most part, Belle wants nothing to do with the town’s arrogant and boorish rogue Gaston, who relentlessly pursues her. When her father is imprisoned in the castle of a hideous Beast, Belle trades her own freedom for his and quickly befriends the former staff who have become household objects as result of a curse placed on the castle. The Beast, while surly and ill-mannered, can be generous and chivalrous and knows how to make her laugh, and Belle soon begins to sense the kind heart of the Prince within.

THE BEAST (Dan Stevens). Once a dashing young Prince who had grown to become cruel and self-absorbed before being transformed by an enchantress into a hideous Beast, he is trapped in the castle until he can learn to love another and be worthy of their love in return, thus breaking the curse. When the Beast catches Maurice trespassing and takes him prisoner, his beautiful and headstrong daughter Belle takes his place, and the Beast develops feelings for her, slowly beginning to come back to life.

GASTON (Luke Evans) is the arrogant and shallow villager intent on marrying Belle. A former War hero, he holds court in the village tavern and has every eligible woman in town wrapped around his finger. Smitten with Belle, who is strong-willed and impervious to his charms, Gaston becomes consumed by rejection and jealousy and leads a mob of villagers to the Beast’s castle to rescue Belle and kill the Beast.

LEFOU (Josh Gad), Gaston’s sidekick, is not the brightest bulb in the box. He worships Gaston, who has no regard for him whatsoever and makes him the brunt of his jokes, but soon comes to realize that beneath Gaston’s handsome exterior lays a heart that is much darker.

MAURICE (Kevin Kline), Belle’s father, is a reclusive artist who specializes in beautiful one-of-a-kind music boxes, which to Belle represent the world beyond the confines of Villeneuve but to Maurice are a way to protect his daughter while preserving perfect memories from his past. When Maurice stumbles upon the Beast’s castle and is taken prisoner, Belle comes to plead for his release, eventually trading her freedom for his. Now it is up to him to convince the villagers of Belle’s imprisonment and to find a way to set her free.

LUMIÈRE (Ewan McGregor) is the Prince’s proper French valet who becomes a gilded candelabra as a result of the spell. While frequently at odds with Cogsworth, the mantel clock and besotted with Plumette, the feather duster, Lumière is charming and sophisticated, and can turn an ordinary meal into a musical extravaganza.

COGSWORTH (Ian McKellen). The castle’s fastidious and tightly-wound head butler who is transformed into a mantel clock by the curse of an enchantress, Cogsworth detests any kind of disruption, preferring things to run like clockwork.

PLUMETTE (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) is the castle’s former maid turned cheeky, yet graceful, feather duster who has captured the heart of the candelabra, Lumière.

MRS. POTTS (Emma Thompson) and CHIP (Nathan Mack). The castle’s former housekeeper, Mrs. Potts, is now a teapot with her Cockney brogue still in place. Her son Chip, who has been transformed into a teacup, is trapped in the castle with her and the other castle staff. It is Mrs. Potts who takes Belle under her wing and who convinces the Beast to try and woo their new houseguest, hoping that she may be the one to capture the heart of the Beast.

MADAME DE GARDEROBE (Audra McDonald) is the renowned Italian opera diva performing for the Prince when the spell is cast, becoming an enormous wardrobe. She resides in Belle’s room at the castle, and in addition to dressing Belle, has a flare for the dramatic and a proclivity for frequent naps.

MAESTRO CADENZA (Stanley Tucci). Now a harpsichord (with a considerable number of broken keys) following the curse of an enchantress, Maestro Cadenza is husband to – and accompanist of – the celebrated opera diva Madame de Garderobe, who, along with his wife and their dog, Froufrou, are trapped in the castle awaiting the lifting of the curse.

Opening across the Philippines on Thursday, March 16, Beauty and the Beast is distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures International.

Survivor stories told in ‘We Call Her Yolanda’ fund-raising screenings

Stories of hope from real survivors of the fiercest and most devastating typhoon that ever hit the Philippines are featured in the highly-inspiring movie “We Call Her Yolanda.” The movie will have limited special screenings on March 25 (Saturday) at Greenbelt 3 cinema 1 at 10:00am and on March 26 (Sunday) at Powerplant cinema 1 at 8:00pm. Proceeds of the screenings are for the benefit of RAM Philippines (Remote Area Medical Volunteer Corps) for their current and future medical missions.

Directed by Anthony Bari, Jr., “We Call Her Yolanda” started with volunteers who have seen the catastrophe that hit Tacloban. From this recurring group of volunteers, they returned one year later with the intent to gather stories of bravery and recovery from the survivors. Upon their return, they saw that many families still lived in tents, coconut plantations were still destroyed, and fishermen were still reeling from the loss of their boats. The health of their land and ocean was also troubling. Visits and services to the community became continuous for the team, each time growing closer to the families that recall their experiences and share their paths to recovery. Stories of loss and survival are recounted by a Lieutenant Commander, a Barangay (village) Captain, a farmer, a couple, and two fishermen. Although there was still much pain and grievance over lives destroyed, their stories and spirits reveal a community strengthened.

The team returns two years later to find that circumstances have greatly improved. Their resilience is clear, with hope leading the way against all odds. “We Call Her Yolanda” captures it all and shares these stories of strength and inspiration. Translating the survivors’ stories into film, director Tony and producer May Tam highlight the strength of the Filipino people rising above the aftermath of the storm.

“On November 8th 2013 Super Typhoon “Yolanda” was the strongest recorded tropical storm to reach land. That was a day nobody was prepared for and many people have learned from. Typhoon Yolanda struck parts of the Philippine islands, destroying everything in its path and ripping people from their homes, livelihood, and loved ones. The events changed the way many of the Filipino people live and how they perceive each other.

The story is narrated by the people that survived Typhoon “Yolanda”. I believe it is the first film to go back and follow up with the survivors for 2 years after the storm. We are giving a voice to a community of people who knows survival and resilience firsthand. Everyday people are most of the time overlooked, so that is who we followed. Our subjects are first responders, foreign aid volunteers, fishermen, community leaders, a village policeman, and a coconut farmer. Never have I seen such a massive disaster. And to see people bounce back from it has been an amazing opportunity. It is my true pleasure to be able share this film with you and I hope you enjoy it,” shares director Bari.

For a chance to watch and purchase tickets of “We Call Her Yolanda”, interested cineastes and advocates may reach them at mobile number +639175823301 – Heidi Sampang Abad. Check the movie’s website

MOVIE REVIEW: Beauty and the Beast (2017)

Beauty and the Beast is far from perfection but still proves to hit the right spot in our hearts, the same way the animated feature did way back in 1991.

Bill Condon’s Beauty and the Beast had huge shoes to fill as it’ll be marking a pinnacle in bringing the beloved animated Disney film faithfully to life as live-action on screen after so many years of loose adaptation releases.

Let me begin by saying that the production had the biggest efforts in respecting the craft by staying true to the original material, almost verbatim, in transforming it to reality, whilst adding flavor by introducing a couple more music to an already-gorgeous lineup of classic songs. The film dazzles with colourful characters, extravagant musical sequences as Condon doesn’t hold back in bringing bold textures and hues of a classic musical production, very reminiscent to Baz Luhrmann’s elaborate style of magic realism on film.

There has been a revamp to the depiction of several characters, most notably to Belle, played by the commendable efforts of Emma Watson. Perhaps, for the first time, a Disney princess is human (and a feminist, if I may add) – the layers of reality that Watson brought to Belle completely eradicated the wide-eyed damsel-in-distress impression of a princess archetype. Belle is portrayed as a real woman: assertive, less romanticized, more organic, and overall ambitious whose destiny doesn’t rely on quintessential prince charming prototypes. This characterization is a rather bold move from screenwriters Stephen Chbosky and Evan Spiliotopolous in showing a three-dimensional Disney leading lady by eliminating the nuances of a dated impression of the feminine persona.

Another revamp is to that of LaFou, whose homosexual undertones are finally embraced, which completely gave sense to what used to be an illogical fixation and fascination towards Gaston as what has been portrayed in the animated version. It goes to show that the film has supported the characters’ intellect by giving rationale to their decision making. It is a very brave move from Disney by finally adding an LGBT character (two of them, actually) to a classic child-friendly film. This revamp shows that Beauty and the Beast, or probably Disney in general, is finally speaking to a new era.

Despite the film’s greatest intentions, inevitably, it suffers from a fair share of casualties here and there. Being an iconic musical, it is just expected that the singing part will be, a no-brainer, above par. However, we have to admit: Watson’s vocal ability wasn’t the best, which didn’t come as a surprise, prematurely conceived from the film’s early marketing and promotional clips. Ultimately, there’s a strange and awkward atmosphere one just cannot ignore that a random laundry woman in the neighbourhood, or a nameless old fish vendor, can sing stronger and has more solid vocal register than the leading lady herself. Vocally, the neighbourhood chorus completely swallows Watson, especially in the opening number, which is crucial, as it sets the mood and expectations of the film. It’s the white elephant in the movie. It all seems like a big ball of ‘showbiz’ agenda that Watson’s casting primarily falls down on how divine she looks in that iconic yellow ball gown, as if a living replica of the animated version – no more, no less. If this wasn’t a musical, Watson would fit perfectly like a glove; but at the end of the day, one of the primary reasons why a musical’s narrative continues to move fluidly is the vocal strength of the cast, especially the lead, and autotune can only get her so far.

The cast and the music felt overly congested. Stanley Tucci’s casting was completely unnecessary, as if merely dragging a big name to pile up an A-list ensemble; again, too much showbiz stunt agenda that is overwhelming to the film’s overall essence. His character has nothing to do with the film’s narrative other than a filler, and he could be taken out easily for a cleaner and much more concise plot. There are a couple of songs that felt better if they were released in an extended DVD version; Beast’s solo act felt redundant, as it was anti-climactic to the film’s pacing.

Speaking of pacing, the build-up of the characters, particularly to that of Belle and Beast, is rather perfunctory, especially in the second act. Their transition from master-prisoner to lovebirds is very, very abrupt, it’s just so hard to buy, which consequently contradicts Belle’s newly overhauled persona as a less idealized, more grounded woman. How the ‘courtship’ was portrayed was too by-the-book from the original source; it felt too forced, and ultimately seems inconsistent from their premise of modernizing the definition of love and relationship. It didn’t have enough establishing moments to justify a love that felt and seem so impossible (bestiality, anyone?), whereas it was the best opportunity to humanize a fairytale, since that has always been the apparent objective of this live action adaptation.

Moreover, the rest of the cast was just stunning. From the impeccable chemistry between Lumiere and Cogsworth, played by Ewan McGregor and Ian McKellen respectively, to the hilarious Emma Thompson, whose golden nightingale voice is a revelation on-screen, to the heartwarming performance of Kevin Kline as Maurice – you can never go wrong with seasoned actors playing classic and iconic roles.

The best part of the film, to my surprise, is Luke Evans as Gaston. I have always been skeptical about him as I find his voice too high and raspy for an uber masculine brute. Evans added so much flavor and pizzazz to the character, he stole every scene he’s in, and at the moments he’s not on screen, you’d find yourself longing for his presence. He’s gritty but vain; extremely annoying but very lovable; he has sold the character so well, you’d easily want a spin-off for his own movie.

Overall, Beauty and the Beast turns out to be exactly what you think it would be – strengths and weaknesses combined; thus, it won’t disappoint. Ultimately, the premise of the film has been lived up, though far from perfection, it still hits the right spot in our hearts. This film is a beautiful nostalgia, and you will find yourself in goosebumps witnessing how the animated film from 1991 has finally unraveled to life.

3.5 out of 5 stars

Now showing across the Philippines in 2D, 3D, IMAX and 4D screens, Beauty and the Beast is distributed by Walt Disney Studios Philippines.