It may sound rather strange given how there are so many good movies out in the past 15 years but my favourite movie is still Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, shown to the whole world in 1991.
Given how my mother used to work at the candy/drinks counter of The Cathay, before its transformation into the uber cool place of today, it is not really surprising how movies are such a big part of my life. Even when she stopped working there, movies were still a treat in our lives especially when it came to Disney’s animated films.
We caught Beauty and the Beast when I was 10 years old, two years after the screening of another favourite, The Little Mermaid. But it was Beauty that stayed in my mind for the longest time, its themes, beautiful visuals, haunting music and tender romance resonating in my young mind.
I loved how the old woman’s curse was measured in the form of an enchanted rose, how the underdog (Beast) rose to defeat the villain (Gaston), how Belle was not your typical princess and damsel in disguise, how the show clearly illustrated that people sometimes are not who they seem to be, how lovable Lumiere, Cogsworth, Mrs Potts and Chip and Beast’s dog were, how funny the lyrics were, how the movie made me cry when Beast died and how I had silently cheered to see Beauty and Beast dance at the end while looking lovingly into each other’s eyes.
I used to pretend that I was Belle because she, like me, loved reading books and was a little different from the rest of the people. I had lost my father so I understood what it meant to be in a single-parent family battling perception and loneliness. I memorised all her lines, all her songs, to the point that every little inflection and emotion in her voice was glued in my brain.
The movie was magic to me and it still is, today. When there was an IMAX theatre re-release of the movie in 2002, the boyfriend brought me to watch it on my birthday and it still made me tear a little. It’s a magical feeling that modern films cannot replicate, even with their technological wizardry and fancy cast. Sadly, the Disney animated films released subsequently were never of the same technique and standards as before.
Most importantly, the movie showed me how love is simple and goes beyond the superficiality of looks and riches. It’s not about the size of the diamond or the home, it’s all about the other person being able to make you laugh, feel loved and best of all, become a better person than you were before meeting him/her.