Live action ‘Beauty and the Beast’ remake falls short of 1991 original

Stefan Carlson

Photo Editor

Illustration by Michael Howath

Illustration by Michael Howath

In Disney’s cinematic canon there seems to be no entry more revered than 1991’s “Beauty and the Beast”. The film was the first of very few animated features to ever be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. And with remakes and reboots being incredibly trendy recently, it makes sense that the film would be one of the studio’s first to get a live-action makeover

However, remakes are tricky: stray too far from the source and risk alienating fans of the original, but stick too closely to the source material and become absolutely unnecessary. 

The 2017 remake, directed by Bill Condon, stumbles more in the latter category, though not without trying desperately to differentiate the film from its predecessor. 

The plot is similar, other than a few tweaks made here and there, and does very little to deviate from the fairytale from which it derives.

Belle (Emma Watson), an intelligent, beautiful and ambitious girl, dreams of giving up her small town existence, which includes daily come-ons from the town’s resident hyper-masculine oaf, Gaston (Luke Evans), in order to pursue a life of adventure.

After her father is taken prisoner by a hideous Beast (Dan Stevens) in an outlandishly elegant castle filled with enchanted clocks, candelabras and teapots, Belle offers to take his place. Instead of letting Belle rot in a cell, as the beast intends, the autonomous objects decide her arrival signals a fateful opportunity: If Belle were to fall in love with the Beast, the curse set upon both them and the castle would be broken. 

Casting Watson as Belle is nothing short of genius as she effortlessly embodies Belle’s determined spirit, helping to elevate the character from love-struck princess to feminist hero. 

Despite Watson’s compelling performance, her musical presence is lacking at the very least. That is to say almost the entirety of her vocal performance is unforgivably auto-tuned, resulting in vocals so robotic one has to wonder if 

Watson’s vocal work would be more rightfully credited to the computer that processed them. This is the film’s most glaring misstep, and immediately destroys any immersion the film works to create. 

The rest of the veteran cast hold their own. Highlights include Ewan McGregor and Sir Ian McKellen skillfully perform as Lumière and Cogsworth respectively, but the material is so derivative of the original that they can never really differentiate themselves from their animated predecessors. 

The only striking difference in character is Lefou (Josh Gad), who Disney revealed to be its first openly-gay character shortly before the film was released. However, Gad’s stereotypical performance does little more than render Lefou a caricature whose unrequited pining for Gaston is always the butt of the joke. The move is insulting to the LGBTQ community, playing more as pandering than progress.

This blatant attempt to shoehorn diversity, along with the film’s other slight deviations, including its marvelous live-action visual effects and grand orchestral score, feels like nothing more than a distraction, a spectacle whose purpose merely justifies the film’s right to exist. 

But the film can never quite stand on its own, and only really succeeds in reminding audiences of how relevant the original still is. 

As a result, “Beauty and the Beast” serves as nothing more than an empty reminder of what to avoid when remaking a movie, and considering the number of live action retreads Disney has already announced, let’s hope for one truly worthy of standing on its own.

‘Gay moment’ conflict reveals larger issue

Sara Groppe

A&E Editor and Guest Columnist

Bill Condon, the director of Disney’s live-action “Beauty and the Beast,” made headlines when he announced in an interview with the U.K.’s Attitude magazine that the film contained an “exclusively gay moment.” Condon’s comment about the character LeFou, the villain Gaston’s bumbling henchman, caused a media sensation. Conservatives launched boycotts against the film while liberals lauded what Variety magazine described as Disney’s “first openly gay character”. 

It might seem strange that this story has become such a big deal, especially considering the fact that the “exclusively gay moment” is one of those blink-and-you-miss-it moments. Even Condon admitted to Vulture magazine that he was “sort of sick” of the whole controversy, saying that “[the scene] is such a teeny thing and it’s been overblown.” 

However, this uproar over a princess movie is just one little part of a greater conflict that is splitting the U.S.: the division between liberals and conservatives. 

This division is nothing new. Although the party names and issues have changed, there has been a difference of opinion between these two groups since the foundation of the U.S. 

Such a division is normal and even healthy for a country. In a one party system, as is found in Communist countries such as China and the old Soviet Union, there is no reason for the government to examine its course of action, nor is there anything to stop the government from stuffing its ideologies down the citizen’s throats and punishing those who do not adhere to them. 

However, if the division between a country’s political parties grows too wide, then there are problems as well. It is these kinds of divisions that lead to revolutions and civil wars. The U.S. experienced this first hand with the Civil War. This is the problem which America faces today. 

If you think it is ridiculous to compare the fight between conservatives and liberals over a Disney movie to the Civil War, just think about the last presidential election. The same people who are arguing over LeFou made this past election the most contentious presidential campaign in recent memory.

This division was partly due to Clinton’s and Trump’s unpopularity, which led to people trying to justify one candidate merely because they despised the other. However, social media played a large role as well. Not only did it enable people to argue politics without physically confronting a person, but it also allowed them to shut out the other side by simply clicking “unfriend.” 

Bridging the gulf between liberals and conservatives requires actual conversations and not Facebook fights, whether they be about Disney or Trump’s latest foibles. There will still be disagreements. However, these discussions will not only force people to acknowledge the other side, but will also make them have more respect for the opposing side because confronting an actual person instead of a Facebook profile will make it more difficult to dehumanize them. 

Until that happens, enjoy the peace and quiet until the next movie riles up the internet. 

Accelerator exhibit blends art and science

Lindsay Olson, the resident artist at Fermilab, explains her artwork to guests at a reception held in the Accelerator Art Space on Tuesday, March 7. Photo by Lauren Vana

Cole Sheeks, Sports Editor

March 7 marked the opening of EC’s latest art exhibition, The Elegant Universe: Art and Science presented by Lindsay Olson in the Barbara A. Kieft Accelerator Artspace.

The exhibit is a blend of both art and science that offers EC students a unique opportunity to learn about these diverse topics in a single location. Olson displays work inspired by her time spent as a visiting artist at the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District as well as her experiences as the first resident artist of the Fermilab research facility.

The featured art connects the unlikely pairing of textile artwork and particle physics, bringing them into one room in order to provide a greater appreciation of both.

“High energy physics can be kind of off putting for some people. It is a difficult, complex subject and using textiles is a way to invite people in,” said Olson.

There are additional mediums on display within the exhibit; however, Olson prefers the textile art form for a variety of reasons.

As Olson puts it, “Textiles are important to me because everybody wears textiles. I often use textiles because it shrinks the distance between the viewer and the art.”

The connection between art and science is not easy to master and it takes a great deal of research in order to create a scientifically sound work of art. Olson mentioned that she spent roughly a year and a half learning all of the science behind her creations.

In addition to researching the scientific background to her work, Olson also commits herself to studying art history as she travels to different art museums and libraries in search of inspiration.

“I went to the Martin Bodmer to look at illuminated manuscripts. [and] to the Newberry Library to study illuminated manuscripts and to the Art Institute,” said Olson. “I have been doing a lot of experimenting with materials and trying to figure out the best way to communicate the science using my whole art tool kit.”

When asked if she had one work that she took the most pride in Olson had a tough time picking a single piece, but she did acknowledge a few that she felt a particular sense of pride in. One such piece was a series of paintings depicting a particle beam as it felt the pull of magnetic force holding it together.

“I love this wet-on-wet ink technique with this piece about accelerator science, because it really tries to express the powerful magnetic forces on the particles that steer it around the ring,” said Olson. “The wet-on-wet ink really has a lot of drama and expresses the energy behind the particular engineering piece of the process.”

The Elegant Universe: Art and Science can be found on campus within the Barbara A. Kieft Accelerator Artspace and will on display until April 18.

Jazz Fest connects students with jazz pros

Sara Groppe, A&E Editor

Jazz fans flocked to Hammerschmidt Chapel for the 50th anniversary of the Elmhurst College Jazz Festival on Feb. 23-26. 

Grammy-award winning jazz vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater sings with EC’s Jazz Band during the Gala Opening Con- cert for Jazz Fest on Thursday, Feb. 23. Photo by Stefan Carlson

Over the course of this four-day event, jazz greats like Grammy Award-winning singer Dee Dee Bridgewater, bassist Rufus Reid and Bill Holman and his big band delighted the audience with their performances. 

“[The judge’s jam session] reminded me of why I like jazz in the first place,” said Ken Eernisse, a senior from California State University, Long Beach’s jazz band, one of the college bands featured in the festival. “They were just calling out a tune, not relying on luscious arrangements. They had such soulful solos.” 

Ernesse was one of the hundreds of college and high school students who came from all over the country to participate in this year’s Jazz Fest. This is largely due to the fact that the Jazz Festival is non-competitive, focusing instead on jazz education. 

“It’s good for students to do intercollegiate festivals [like the Jazz Fest] because it gives colleges the opportunity to interact with other organizations,” said Bridgewater. “It’s all about celebrating music and interacting with each other. It’s nice to share musical ideas with your peers.”

Bridgewater speaks from experience, for she performed at the Jazz Festival in 1968 as the vocalist for the University of Illinois’ big band. Her experiences with that group eventually led her to fulfill her dream of becoming a Jazz musician respected by the world. 

Jeff Jarvis, the director of the California State University, Long Beach’s band agrees with Bridgewater on the importance of experiences like the Jazz Fest for young jazz musicians. He especially values the opportunities his students have to hear and work with great jazz educators (adjudicators) at Jazz Fest. 

“Finding good adjudicators is difficult,” he said. “Some people can’t talk to younger people. If a student hears comments from an adjudicator that rubs him the wrong way, that could be the end of his career. Every one of [the Jazz Fest adjudicators] is a great adjudicator.” 

Janis Stockhouse, the the director of Bloomington North High School’s jazz band took her students on a four-hour bus drive from Indiana to EC because she knew the experience would be beneficial for them. 

“Denis DiBlasio worked with the students and got the saxophone section to sound meatier,” she said. 

The students themselves appreciate these experiences as much as — if not more than — their directors do. 

“I’m really excited to see the Vanguard Orchestra,” said Tom Hughes, a junior from California State University, Long Beach. “I’ve looked up to [their drummer] since I started drumming. I worked through his lesson books. To hear him play is priceless.” 

The professionals enjoy working with the students as well, an opinion Bridgewater voiced at the end of her concert with the Jazz Band. 

“These young people are the reason I come back here,” she said.

Emotionally engaging ‘Logan’ takes superhero films to new level

Stefan Carlson, Photo Editor

The most emotionally moving film of the year, so far, is a superhero flick.

Yes, the genre usually known for schlocky, big-budget, popcorn blockbusters has evolved. 

“Logan,” the newest addition in the X-Men franchise, is the source of the mutation. 

Hugh Jackman reprises his role as Wolverine for the last time alongside co-star Dafne Keen, who plays the role of his daughter Laura, in ‘Logan,’ out now in theaters.  Internet Photo

Hugh Jackman reprises his role as Wolverine for the last time alongside co-star Dafne Keen, who plays the role of his daughter Laura, in ‘Logan,’ out now in theaters.  Internet Photo

The film opens as Logan (Hugh Jackman) attempts to secure a better life for himself and his companion, the increasingly-unstable Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart). 

In his endeavors, he is burdened with transporting the only known mutant to be born in the last 25 years — a young girl named Laura (Dafne Keen) — from his hideout in Mexico to a Canadian safe haven while saddled with the unstable, delusional Xavier all while being pursued by a ruthless corporation looking to capture Laura.

The film shines during this journey as the actors, given material overflowing with emotional depth, are allowed to show their skills.

Stewart is a standout, utilizing his Shakespearean chops to bring a nuanced sense of humanity to the aged Professor Xavier. 

Keen delivers a promising performance as Laura, showcasing the young actor’s surprisingly-varied range. 

However, it is Jackman who carries the film. His all-out performance brings an emotional gravity to a character who could easily have (and has been) played as an angry, drunken cliché. 

Yes, most of the time he is drunk, but his drunkenness feels more like a cry for help here than ever before. Logan is aging, forced to face a mortality he never thought applied to him. 

The result of this conflict, and the themes it brings along with it, is one of the most compelling of the year, thanks to a masterfully-crafted script by Scott Frank. 

However, just because the film addresses more emotional aspects of Logan’s story, it doesn’t leave out any of the action. In fact, it ramps it up to 11. 

The film’s action sequences are beautiful, no-nonsense numbers expertly-choreographed by director James Mangold. 

Logan’s metallic claws rip through flesh as if it were paper, gouging out eyeballs and leaving no shortage of blood in their wake. The film treats violence as part of the everyday. It neither glorifies it, nor avoids it. The result is absolutely thrilling. 

But ultimately, “Logan” is a cathartic film-going experience. The new pinnacle that all superhero movies should reach for in their storytelling.

 It’s fascinating to watch Logan deal with his nearing immortality, his desires for a family and his love for his daughter. 

The film perfectly pinpoints that human element that makes superheroes so compelling. They are super. They have powers. But they’re flawed, mortal, broken. And fascinating as a result.