This past weekend marked the release of Beauty and the Beast, the latest live action remake of a classic animated Disney movie. This version of the tale as old as time felt remarkably similar to the original 1991 movie, which was among the biggest triumphs of the Disney Renaissance. In fact, once the studio has concluded this remake era, it's possible we'll look back on this time and see that the new Beauty and the Beast was arguably the most faithful to its animated predecessor compared to the other live action re-tellings. Nevertheless, a good remake finds ways to differentiate itself from what came before, and Beauty and the Beast was no exception. After all, it would have been boring if it was just an exact replica of the animated movie. We learned through Psycho that that doesn't work well.
While there were a number of minuscule changes sprinkled through the new Beauty and the Beast movie, we've gone ahead and gathered together the 15 biggest differences from the re-telling. If you happened to catch any other major alterations that we didn't include on this list, feel free to mention them in the comments section below.
Oh, and it goes without saying, but there are SPOILERS ahead!
We actually see the Prince being turned into the Beast. In the animated movie, the backstory of the young Prince being turned into the Beast by the Enchantress was told through window stain glass artwork and a narrator leading the audience along. The narrator remained for the live action remake (though it was the Enchantress telling the tale rather than David Ogden Stiers), but this time we saw the event unfold as it happened. In this version, the Enchantress showed up as the Prince hosted a debutante ball, but just like in the animated Beauty and the Beast, he refused to provide her shelter, and she didn't take kindly to that.
We see the Enchantress in person. As mentioned in the previous section, the new Beauty and the Beast showed the Enchantress working her magic on the Prince in the prelude, but that wasn't her only appearance in the movie. It turns out that she was also laying low in Belle's village as Agathe, a reclusive older woman who is shunned by the other villagers. Fortunately, Agathe was around later in the movie to free Maurice from that tree that Gaston bound him to (more on that later) and nurse him back to health. The Enchantress also stopped by during the climax to reverse the curse she cast upon the Prince and other castle inhabitants. So even though she doesn't say much during the story, now the Enchantress feels more like an individual rather than a force of nature.
Belle is the inventor. In the animated Beauty and the Beast, Maurice was the one tinkering around and building weird inventions that would be looked at with a raised eyebrow in 17th century France. In this version, Belle is the one with the inventor's mind, as evidenced by the way she used that contraption attached to the donkey to do her laundry. As for Maurice, he's now spending his days crafting special music boxes. So he still has a creative mind, he's just not making anything nearly as kooky as what his animated counterpart did.
Gaston was a soldier. Rather than just introduce Gaston as a hunter whose kills are looked at with awe across the village, the new Beauty and the Beast also threw in a few references that called back to his time as a soldier, like when Gaston mentions that he's felt so lost since "the war," when Maurice calls him "Captain" and that portrait of him in the tavern standing over fallen adversaries. Luke Evans' Gaston is still a detestable character, but at least now we have more of a frame of reference for why he makes certain decisions. Besides being way too into himself, he also thrives in conflict.
Maurice doesn't willingly go down the path to Beast's castle. When Maurice was traveling in the original Beauty and the Beast, he went down the path that led to the Beast's castle only because he thought it would be a shortcut to his intended destination, unaware of what was truly ahead. In the live action movie, Maurice instead chose to go down that path because a tree collapsed before his eyes that blocked the route he originally meant to go down. Sure he could have just turned around and gone home when that happened, but then we wouldn't have an captivating story! Given that the collapsed tree was later somehow moved back to its previous position, is it possible there was some magical intervention on the Enchantress' part to get Maurice to Beast's castle?
LeFou has feelings for Gaston. Gaston's sidekick has always been obsessed with the muscular hunter, but in the animated movie, LeFou's adoration felt more like he was trying to live through Gaston. Presumably in LeFou's mind, hanging around such a popular guy would make his life more interesting. Josh Gad's LeFou, on the other hand, clearly has romantic feelings for Luke Evans' Gaston. Despite Gaston clearly being a ladies man, LeFou lingers about hoping his best friend will one day feel the same way about him. While Gaston still likes keeping LeFou around to prop up his ego, romantically, the feelings went unrequited.
Cadenza's inclusion. The main enchanted staff lineup grew by one in the live action Beauty and the Beast. Stanley Tucci appeared as Cadenza, the castle's court composer who was transformed into a harpsichord by the Enchantress. By the end of the movie, Cadenza was turned back to normal along with everyone else (albeit with a few teeth missing since he spit out some of his instrumental keys during the battle with the villagers), and he was reunited with his wife, Madame de Garderobe. By the way, did anyone else get Caesar Flickerman vibes from Cadenza?
The enchanted staff are actually turning into their respective objects. The live action enchanted characters had it a lot worse than their animated predecessors. Even if the curse had stayed in effect in the animated Beauty and the Beast, the castle staff still would have been able to walk, talk and enjoy life, despite their unfortunate forms. In the remake when the last rose petal fell, they actually turned into their respective objects, essentially killing them. If Belle hadn't fallen in love with Beast in the nick of time, they would have been stuck as those antiques forever. It's extremely dark if you think about it.
The book that transports you where want to go most. The Enchantress left Beast with another "gift" besides the curse: a book that can take readers to the location they're especially keen to visit. For Beast, this wasn't particularly useful since no matter where he goes, he'll be looked at with fear due to his animalistic appearance. For Belle, on the other hand, it presented an exciting opportunity since she's spent her whole life in a small village unable to travel anywhere and only able to visit far-off places through her reading. Unfortunately for the young woman, her trip through those mystical pages wasn't the experience she was expecting.
Learning how Belle's mother died. Unlike the animated Beauty and the Beast, the live action remake addressed what happened Belle's mother, although Maurice refused to tell Belle how she died at first. Later in the movie, when Belle and the Beast traveled to Paris through that magical book, they ended up in Belle's old home, which had long been abandoned. Moviegoers then learned that shortly after giving birth to Belle, Belle's mother was stricken with plague, and she instructed Maurice to take her daughter far away so they would escape being infected. This provides much needed context for why Belle and Maurice are living in that village, along with why Maurice is so overprotective about his daughter. He doesn't want her to suffer a similar fate by venturing beyond what he sees as safe territory.
Gaston pretends to help Maurice at first. When Maurice originally came back from Beast's castle in the animated Beauty and the Beast, Gaston wasted no time in dismissing the old man as a madman and having him committed to an insane asylum. In the new version, Gaston initially humored Maurice and came with him to find Belle at Beast's castle, bringing LeFou with them. However, the only reason Gaston agreed to help Maurice is so he could seek his approval to marry Belle, and when he didn't get that, he lost his cool, knocked Maurice out and tied him to a tree to leave him for dead. Only when Maurice was freed by Agathe and made it back to town did Gaston initiate his insane asylum plan.
Beast singing "Evermore." The new Beauty and the Beast was packed with a lot of classic songs featured in its animated predecessor, but one of the brand-new tunes was "Evermore," which Beast sang as Belle left the castle to go help Maurice. It was his big chance to shine on his own musically, which his younger self briefly got to do in "Days in the Sun" where we learned about how his mother died and how his father treated him cruelly. Most importantly, "Evermore" shows that Belle had left an irreversible impression on Beast/Prince during their time together, despite it looking at the time that she would never return to him.
LeFou turns against Gaston and the other villagers. When Gaston and the villagers stormed Beast's castle, LeFou initially fought the enchanted staff members like everyone else, even if he wasn't entirely on board with this invasion. However, unlike his animated counterpart, he switched sides during the battle. When Gaston abandoned LeFou during the conflict, it finally occurred to him that not only would the hunter ever feel the same romantically about him. From there, he did his best to help fend off the other villagers, befriending Mrs. Potts in the process.
Gaston fatally shoots the Beast rather than stabs him. Gaston still had his climactic showdown with the Beast in the movie's climax, but he used a firearm instead of a blade and a bow & arrow as his main weapons of choice. The result was still the same in terms of harming and later killing the Beast, but hearing that pistol boom each time made Beauty of the Beast's climactic showdown more suspenseful and heart wrenching. How Gaston fell to his death was also slightly changed, as rather than lose his grip while attacking the Beast, the footbridge he was standing on collapsed.
Mrs. Potts' husband. Early in the Beauty and the Beast remake during the "Belle" number, Belle briefly chats with "Monsieur Jean," one of the local villagers who knows he's lost something, but can't remember what it is. Fast forward to the end of the movie, when the curse has been lifted and the villagers have had their memories of the castle and its inhabitants restored. With his mind finally clear, Monsieur Jean finally remembers Mrs. Potts and Chip, his wife and son. It's wonderful to see the family reunited after all this time, but we can't help but think that he suffered the worst of all the villagers.