Let’s face it, as much as we love the Disney princesses from our childhood they have been less than forthcoming role models for young female viewers. As memorable as each of Walt Disney’s works are, most are quite lacking in the heroine category. With classics such as Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and Cinderella focusing on damsels-in-distress waiting around for their prince, there isn’t much else of value for watchers to take away.
Now don’t get us wrong, we aren’t trying to bash the Disney princesses here. Many of those delicate girls with unbelievable voices helped us grow to believe that happily ever after’s could be possible, but a few of those princesses happened to go a bit more beyond than that.
From Pocahontas and Mulan to Merida and Tiana, several of the Disney movies have proven that girls can be heroes too and now more so than ever with Disney’s live-action remake of the beloved story, Beauty and the Beast.
The new live-action remake is to be released in March, but it seems that the children of the ‘90s just can’t hold in their excitement. Becoming the most-watched movie trailer in a 24-hour period last November, Beauty and the Beast beat out the previous record holder set by Fifty Shades Darker. But what makes this Disney live-action film different than that of the past such as the more recent Cinderella? Aside from featuring Watson who is renowned for her acting skills and gender equality movements, the live-action film showcases Belle, one of Disney’s strong-willed, smart and independent princesses.
While some can still argue that Belle doesn’t deserve all of her feminist praise, in comparison to all of the other Disney princesses, Belle does shine as the thinker and adventurer. She doesn’t wait for her glass slipper or prince to kiss her awake, nor does she cook and clean for dwarves she’s never met. Instead she is courageous and saves her father, which ultimately leads to her saving the Beast—not the other way around. Belle promotes not falling for the rich stud of the town and ending up as the doting wife, instead she finds solace in her books and being kind.
But even with all of her progressions for Disney females, Belle’s character wasn’t relevant enough for our modern era activist. Watson, working alongside the films director, Bill Condon gave the princess a bit of a purpose in the movie. The previously “unemployed” Belle posed the question for Watson of “what exactly did she do in her free time?” In the new film, Belle is an inventor! Watson has also had an influence on Belle’s wardrobe, stating in an interview with Entertainment Weekly that the ballet flats the princess wears in the movie isn’t exactly suitable for a young adventurous inventor.
“She’s very practical, she’s a very good horse rider,” Watson said. “…If you’re going to ride a horse, and tend your garden, and fix machinery, then you need to be in proper boots.”
But what is really impressive is the reasons behind Watson’s acceptance of the role and how she used her stance on equality to help shape the movie. Back in 2013, Watson was in the talks of being casted for Disney’s live-action remake, Cinderella but later turned down the role. In a recent interview with Total Film, Watson said she turned down the Cinderella role because she considers Belle to be a better role model.
“I just felt the character resonated with me so much more than Cinderella did,” said Watson. “She remains curious, compassionate and open-minded. And that’s the kind of woman I would want to embody as a role model, given the choice.”
Watson continued to say that she personally found a connection with the inspiring and resilient princess.
“In a strange way, she challenges the status quo of the place she lives in, and I found that really inspiring,” Watson said. “She manages to keep her integrity and have a completely independent point of view. She’s not easily swayed by other people’s perspective—not swayed by fear-mongering or scapegoating.”
We think it’s safe to say that the U.N. Women Goodwill Ambassador and HeForShe advocate is the perfect candidate to not only play the role of Belle, but one of the most qualified to help remake the character into someone that people of all ages can look up to.
Feel free to be our guest and let us know what you think about the upcoming movie in the comments below!