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26 years is a lot of time for a film to age, and as we all know, some films age absolutely horribly. Yet just as its title song implies, Beauty and The Beast is a timeless classic that left very little room for improvement. And yet, there were still some changes in the 2017 version that somehow worked even better than those of the original version of the film.
One of those aspects that outdid the original was, surprisingly, the ending of the movie. What was once a quick and easy resolution to everything that came before it, the ending of director Bill Condon's live-action remake was a more enriched experience that basically turned the ending of the film into something of a grander scale. The reasons why are pretty important, as there are several components that turned a Disney ending into a theatrical event.
Lefou Finally Has A Story Arc
In the original Beauty and The Beast, Lefou was taken out of action pretty quickly, and was never seen in the film again. Now for a guy that was palling around with our villain, that's kind of cheap, considering the sidekicks usually turn against the villain or get disposed of themselves. Not so with 2017's version, as Lefou not only teams up with Mrs. Potts, but also gets paired off with the man who approved of his makeover by Madame Garderobe. As if having the first interracial kiss wasn't enough of a ground-breaker, Beauty and The Beast now has a gay character, and he's been given a happy ending of redemption.
The Cross Dressing Scene Is No Longer Insulting
Be honest: the scene where one of Gaston's goons is dressed as a woman didn't age well. In the animated Beauty and The Beast, he shrieks with horror and runs off. It's kind of a sign of the times when that sort of thing got played for laughs, but in a more progressive time, it doesn't play as well. But with three goons getting makeovers, and one of them approving of his look, this not only rectifies what the original scene was trying to say, but at the same time gives Lefou someone to end up with at the end of the film.
The Ending Was More Suspenseful In Its Resolution
The moment Gaston took aim with a pistol and shot The Beast in the tower, fans of the original Beauty and The Beast may have thought that the ending fight between Beast and Gaston was going to be way different. With Belle snapping Gaston's arrows, you wouldn't have been wrong to think so, as that was his original weapon of choice. So by time The Beast spares Gaston's life and reunites with Belle, fans were starting to think that maybe, just maybe, Gaston could become a somewhat better guy and not have to die. But, of course, he took that third shot, and doomed himself... but not before one of the tensest reunions we've ever seen, making a moment we all know and love that much more fresh in our minds.
The Reversal Of The Curse Makes A Lot More Sense
Disney magic works pretty basically when you think about it. The moment someone learns their emotionally charged lesson, they're pretty much saved. But with all of the added material and gravitas that Beauty and The Beast is setting out to include in its live-action incarnation, there needs to be a little more than simple cartoon logic when resolving something as huge as the curse. Which makes the fact that Agathe the Enchantress is an actual character in the film a lot more fruitful, because she's seeing the world changing and interacting with The Beast. She sees first-hand how much Belle loves The Beast and what she'll do to help him. So by time she tells The Beast she loves him, our Enchantress can see that not only has the prince fallen in love, but that he is also loved in return, and she consciously decides to break the curse.
It Wasn't Just The Ending Of Belle & The Beast's Story
Perhaps the best loose end that Beauty and The Beast's 2017 ending tied up was that of the household staff. Returning to the logic of the curse, the fact that the staff will remain transformed into the objects they're in the form of is only alluded to briefly in the 1991 original, so there's no real stakes for Cogsworth, Lumiere and Mrs. Potts at the end, as they're still "alive" when the last pedal falls. But in the remake, our hearts are broken slowly but surely as we see our beloved characters turning into their respective household items. (Admit it, you broke when Mrs. Potts was raving on about finding Chip.) So when Agathe reverses the curse on The Beast, she's also restoring the staff to perfect human order, and lifting the further enchantment she placed on the villagers, who now remember everything about the castle and its inhabitants.
When we saw 1991's version of Beauty and The Beast come to an end, we were celebrating the love of Belle and Prince Adam. But at the end of 2017's variant of the tale as old as time, we were thrilled that everyone learned a valuable lesson, all memories and persons were restored and Gaston was probably being feasted upon by that wolf with the sweet facial scar. If that's not a truly happy ending, then frankly, we don't know what is.