If you haven’t seen the new “Beauty and the Beast” movie yet, run to your nearest theatre.
In fact, sprint!
It may be fiction, but it is in lockstep with our current political climate.
This fairy tale really has something for everyone today: pundit-like tea pots and candelabras, a gay side-kick, a war on women, a populist megalomaniac with big hair, and a black, furry beast living behind a wall of trees in a gilded tower.
Belle, the girl with a brain, but no pantsuit, is shunned by the local mediocrities who resent her for wanting to be something other than a peasant’s wife. They don’t call her an elitist or even out-of-touch, but when she first rushes back from the castle and describes her experience with the Beast, she is immediately mocked for delivering fake news.
The villagers aren’t too keen on Belle’s father, either. They despise his eccentricities and artisanship so much that, when he reports his own captivity at the castle, they are quick to judge and even try to deport him to an insane asylum. It is pretty clear that those artsy characters with their love for books and science have no place in this village.
Gaston, the local hero, compensates nicely for these ephemeral types with his with astonishingly big hair and exaggerated ego. The local tavern girls are head-over-heels for him but he only has one prize in mind: Belle. She is the one he can’t have, therefore the one he absolutely has to have, whether he is qualified or not.
There’s no perverse p*ssy grabbing here, though—it is a Disney movie after all—but plenty of bravado. Tru…er, Gaston’s side-kick, Lefou, a press secretary of sorts, is beyond loyal and sings his praises to cover up any and all of Gaston’s outrageous buffoonery. Luckily, Lefou eventually finds his b*lls and doesn’t allow himself to be dragged down upon Gaston’s inevitable implosion. (Oh, for life to imitate art!)
This is a cautionary tale with many parallels playing out in our own country, and across the globe, today, but it is also one of hope and redemption.
The castle, gone dark, is under a spell and awaiting its salvation. It has lost its soul and its humanity. All the light is being sucked out by its oppressor and those who enable him. Gaston, fanning the flames, has the villagers riled up with rage. According to him, the Beast is a dark, hairy foreigner that has to go. Belle (and all her lady-parts) are Gaston’s property—not to be usurped by this Beast from a foreign land. Eventually, all this oppression, fear and hate culminates in a great battle to kill the Beast.
Meanwhile, a spontaneous alchemy has begun between Belle and the Beast. Through them, a melting of an ice age—a kind of global warming (in a good way, if that’s possible)—is at work. Life, as they know it, is counting on these two to tear down the wall dividing them and recover that which connects them.
As the castle is besieged and fortress walls collapse, an under-current of love continues to brew. The dark night of the soul, in its final battle, has nowhere else to go but toward the dawn.
At some point, there just isn’t anything left to lose, anything left to do but let go.
So Belle and the Beast have to become the willing conduits to break the curse that has pervaded their landscape and infiltrated the world around them. They are strong personalities, the both of them, therefore it’s a fight of wills to the end. But they learn to release the tight defenses that have held their hearts captive to finally allow the light to overcome the darkness.
It may be a tale as old as time, but it is also a blueprint of the cyclical seasons of the heart. A road map to guide us through the many fears that lurk in dark places and times. It’s not an easy route and it’s certainly a messy one, with many obstacles along the way. There are many players, and many moving parts, yet somehow the light prevails.
Good to know, and important to believe—now more than ever.
Author: Vera Snow
Editor: Khara-Jade Warren