Friday 12 May 2017

The New Songs of Beauty and the Beast

With the world in a mess, why not take a look at some things that make you happy to cheer you up a bit? That in mind, I thought I’d turn to Beauty and the Beast and give some appreciation to the work of Alan Menken, Howard Ashman and Tim Rice.

Days in the Sun

I think Days in the Sun adds a lot of backing to each of the characters in the castle. As a lament for the past and all its freedoms, it also looks forward, hopeful, into the future. While it is undoubtedly very melancholic, I personally love the element of hope evident in it – the longing for humanity and redemption the characters express.

Some of my favourite lyrics from this song are sung by Emma Watson as Belle: “I was innocent but certain / Now I’m wiser but unsure,” and “I can’t go back into my childhood / One that my father made secure / I can feel a change in me / I’m stronger now, but still not free.” Okay, so this is mostly the whole of Belle’s part but we can forget that. I love the first two lines. They’re so true and show some development that I think everyone goes through, not just Belle. It’s almost certainly a universal character development as I think that anyone who is certain of themselves is undoubtedly a fool. I also think the last line mentioned highlights the fact that Belle is not free, putting some of the massive problems associated with the story into perspective but also suggesting that Belle wasn’t free beforehand in her village. The word “still” shows how she was equally as limited and trapped in the village as she was in the Beast’s castle due to the close-mindedness of her neighbours.

How Does a Moment Last Forever (Music Box and Montmartre)

If you follow me on Twitter, you will probably be aware of how much this song affects me – particularly the Montmartre version. Honestly, the amount of ties I’ve ugly cried to this song is ridiculous. It just breaks me. The lyrics just trigger something in my brain and make me feel 14/15 again – a time that was really difficult and complicated for me because of the fact that I moved from my childhood home to a place over 200 miles away – and the Paris scene in general completely took me by surprise when I first watched the film. An unsuspecting Jemima just broke down, sniffling and snorting through the tears next to a load of 5 year olds wearing Belle dresses (you know the one).

The Montmartre version of the song, sung by Emma Watson (won’t go on about the autotune here but maybe in a post in the future), is really short, as is the previous Music Box version by Kevin Kline, so there’s not much but it’s really impactful in my opinion.

The last two lines Emma sings I find to be quite poignant: “Easy to remember, harder to move on / Knowing the Paris of my childhood is gone.” The first line, I find, is relatable to almost any situation. It can be easy to wallow in self pit and pain, living in the past or wishing your life had gone another way, so that getting out of that rut can be extremely difficult. Things happen that affect us in a way that never leaves us. That’s the nature of grief. It crops up in moments we don’t expect and makes us relieve all the pain again, in that very moment. Time is often what is needed to cure many wound, I know that from experience, and whilst they may never heal fully, we can learn to live with them and even forget them at times. The second line mentioned to me marks the end of childhood and the split and acceptance of the loss of it. For me, I’d say my childhood has become quite isolated due to the move I experienced, but as I am now nearing my 18th birthday, I and many of my friends are coming to terms with the loss of our childhood marked by this specific event


Evermore is the Beast’s only solo, performed just after the original’s classic, Tale as Old as Time, where Belle is leaving the castle to help her father. I love this song – I genuinely think it should be nominated for an Oscar next year – as I think that it really gives further depth to the Beast’s character. It shows a real human side to him; he is vulnerable and sacrifices his own happiness for that of Belle, a great definition of love if ever I saw one.

The way Dan Stevens acts this is great. You can really feel the pain coming through as he sings and I know I much prefer this version to the original where the Beast just sort of flops and becomes helpless, and whilst he does become a bit helpless at the end of the song, it’s nowhere near the same scale as the original’s.

The staging of the song is so meaningful to me. The Beast runs upwards during this scene, higher up a tower so that he can see Belle for longer – her iconic yellow dress the only real splash of colour in the shot, in my opinion highlighting how Belle is the light of Beast’s life and how she has opened his eyes and helped him grow as a person. There are lots of other things to potentially analyse in this song but I won’t go into them as I’m sure this post has gotten far too long

If you liked this post you might like: 5 Reasons to Love the 2017 Beauty and the Beast

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