The animated Beauty and the Beast is one of Disney's most acclaimed movies, but it isn't immune from criticism. One issue folks have had with the story is how Belle falls in love with Beast despite the fact that he kept her trapped in his castle. There have been subsequent claims about Belle having Stockholm Syndrome, and whether you agree with that assessment or not, Belle's captivity is a plot point that couldn't be avoided for the live action Beauty and the Beast remake. However, for Emma Watson, she doesn't believe this is applicable criticism for the heroine.
During an interview with EW, Emma Watson acknowledged that she "grappled" with Belle's relationship with the Beast when she first signed on to the movie, but as far as this live action take is concerned, she doesn't believe Stockholm Syndrome fits since Belle is continually resisting the lord of the castle. She explained:
That's where a prisoner will take on the characteristics of and fall in love with the captor. Belle actively argues and disagrees with [Beast] constantly. She has none of the characteristics of someone with Stockholm Syndrome because she keeps her independence, she keeps that freedom of thought.
Just like in its animated predecessor, Disney's Beauty and the Beast remake will see Belle willingly allowing herself to be trapped in the Beast's castle so that her father can be freed. But as Emma Watson points out, rather than take her fate sitting down, she take opportunities to fight back and attempt to escape. It's only when the Beast/Prince starts to show that he's a decent person within that Belle slowly changes her mind and sticks around the castle filled with other enchanted denizens. In Watson's eyes, there's a "very intentional switch" where Belle decides she wants to say, but that in no ways means that the young woman believes she should be treated badly. Watson continued:
In fact, she gives as good as she gets. He bangs on the door, she bangs back. There's this defiance that 'You think I'm going to come and eat dinner with you and I'm your prisoner --- absolutely not.' I think that's the other beautiful thing about the love story. They form a friendship first and that gap in the middle where there is this genuine sharing, the love builds out of that, which in many ways I actually think is more meaningful than a lot of love stories, where it was love at first sight.
It wouldn't be Beauty and the Beast without the two main characters falling for each other, but it's reasonable to question just how healthy their relationship was. Considering how progressive the animated Belle was as a Disney "princess" protagonist back in 1991, having her meekly submitting to a man-creature that threw her in a cage would be a bad look. Still, as Emma Watson noted, these two "don't have illusions about who the other one is." They've seen each other at their worst, but they also bring out the best in one another, and that's how the dynamic goes from irritation to love.
Beauty and the Beast will enchant theater audiences on March 17.