On a rare ‘date night’ (that’s two sleepy parents who’ve managed to get the toddler to bed at a decent time) hubby and I watched the latest Beauty & the Beast. It’s been a looooong time since I saw the original animation (in the cinema, with my BFF, Karen something) and I was amazed that I remembered all the songs. When it was announced, I’d had mixed feelings about making a live-action of Beauty and the Beast, I mean, what could it add to the original, which won Academy Awards, Grammy’s and Golden Globes? However, I was pleasantly surprised by it’s quality and I really enjoyed the small changes Emma Watson brought to ‘Belle’. For those who’ve seen it, I’m sure you’ll agree that Luke Evans as Gaston and Josh Gad as LeFou completely steal the show but the other thing which struck me was the relationship between Belle’s father.
People will argue that the Beast, or even Belle herself, is the hero of this movie (certainly in the updated version, Belle is more than capable of handling herself) but I have to argue that the unacknowledged hero of both movies is actually Maurice, Belle’s father. I thought on Father’s Day it seemed apt to look at this Daddy’s Girl and what a Daddy’s love for his daughter.
One of the main differences between the animated and live action movies is that Belle is the inventor, not Maurice, who is an artist. This obviously plays out later, to explain why Belle’s such an outcast and Maurice is considered ‘unusual’, but whether she’s reading a book, inventing a washing machine or generally discussing what she wants to do with her life, Maurice supports her. He agrees, it’s HER life to do with as she chooses.
I suppose having a daughter myself now, and seeing the encouragement my husband gives her daily (if there’s a higher branch to climb, he’ll tell her to do it, but always makes sure she knows he’s there if she falls) this really struck me. In how many other Disney movies, or movies in general, does the father give unconditional encouragement to his daughter’s dreams and ideas, especially when they run so contrary to the expectations of society. There are not that many which spring to mind.
Maurice loves his daughter, that’s obvious but for me it’s shown in the number of sacrifices he’s willing to make for her. In the live action movie, there’s a scene explaining what happened to Belle’s mother and how Maurice was forced to leave Paris for his daughter’s safety during a plague outbreak, choosing to settle in the country to ensure her health. He had to leave his beloved wife behind, to die alone and this is played with nuance by Kevin Kline. So there’s poor Maurice, having to care for an infant whilst also grieving for his wife and his life in Paris, whilst settling in a village with locals who consider him more than a little strange and are not the most welcoming.
However, the ultimate sacrifice Maurice makes is when Gaston asks, then demands, Belle’s hand in marriage. Each time Maurice says no, even though he knows it may cost him his freedom, even his life. He loves his daughter so much, her safety and happiness is paramount to him, and he does what’s best for her without a second though as to what it will cost him. Can you imagine a greater love? It’s one thing to sacrifice your life, and certainly that’s been portrayed numerous times in films (think the mum in Findig Nemo), but to allow yourself to in institutionalised whilst sane and worrying about your daughters safety, that’s a fathers love. He’s the ultimate, unsung (I think he really is, as he’s about the only one without a theme) hero of the story.
So, what’s th e post of this slightly rambling post? Well, it’s a Fathers Dat, a day to acknowledge all the sacrifices, both little and big that our father’s make for us – be it working a job they hate in order to pay for things for their children, sharing their cake after a little one drops theirs, even getting up early to take the children downstairs so us mums can have a much-needed lay in. I watch my husband with our daughter – he’s constantly striving to be a better dad, to push her to be the best she can and ignore anyone who tells her what she can’t do. He’s as fierce a feminist as I am. He has a level of patience I envy and loves getting stuck in with the toddlers latest game, be it a tea party for her imaginary friends or going on a bear hunt, he’s by her side and she adores him for it. He gets up in the night to chase away monsters and as soon as he gets home is dragged into games which he throws itself into without a thought of how exhausted he as. His only reward is a cheeky smile, raspberry blown at him & the ultimate ‘love you, daddy!’ As the toddler flings her arms around his neck. He’s mostly definitely hers, mine & the pups hero.
How are you celebrating Father’s Day?