"Virtually every movie presents us with role models, ideal ways of behaving, negative traits, and an implied morality based on the filmmaker’s sense of right and wrong” (Giannetti, 3). Beauty and the Beast might be a children’s movie, but it still has very powerful messages. It is important for children’s films to have positive messages because they are learning to distinguish right from wrong. When I was a little girl, the characters from the movies I watched were my idols and I sought to emulate them as much as possible, and I have no doubt that I am not the only one.
According to Louis Giannetti in Understanding Movies, “In short, every film has a slant, a given ideological perspective that privileges certain characters, institutions, behaviors, and motives as attractive, and downgrades an opposing set as repellent”(3). The great thing about this movie is that it does not downgrade anyone as repellent based on physical attractiveness. The message that stands out the most in Beauty and the Beast is that “True beauty lies within”. This message is recurring throughout the movie because Belle, the most beautiful woman in town falls in love with the Beast because of who he was, not what he looked like. At first, Belle did not like the Beast because he put up walls and did not let her in. However, once she got to know him she started falling for him. Even though the Beast looked like a monster on the outside, he was a prince on the inside with good intentions. This teaches children that it is more important to have a beautiful heart than a beautiful face or body. This is a form of ethos because it shows what type of character Belle truly is: a kindhearted one.
Another positive message this film sends to its audience is that it is good to do nice things for people even if you dislike them. There is one particular scene that depicts this message. In this scene, Belle is upset with the Beast and escapes into the woods and is attacked by wolves. The Beast finds out and decides to go rescue her, but ends up wounded. After Belle realizes that he sacrificed himself to save her, she takes care of his wounds. Before this happened, the Beast had been nothing but unkind to Belle, but once she saw that he did have goodness in his heart she started to have feelings for him. The Beast later thanks her by gifting her his library and inviting her to a fancy dinner and dance. The Beast did something kind for Belle and she showed kindness to him in return. This sends the message to children that if you treat others well, they are likely to respond the same way. These scenes appeal to the pathos of the audience because they are very touching and help the audience feel the love blossoming between the characters.
A problematic message that can be interpreted from the movie is that “A good girl can change a bad guy.” Many women today are attracted to bad boys and the idea of making them better people, which rarely happens. If children are seeing this from an early age, they will probably grow up believing that they can modify people to their standards. This movie represents this idea because the Beast locks Belle up as his prisoner, screams at her and attempts to punish her by letting her starve, and Belle still overlooked all of this. This can also be representative of how both women and men let the people they love hurt them repeatedly because they cannot let go. The scenes where the Beast mistreats Belle appeal to the pathos of the audience in a negative way because it leads the audience to feel anger towards the Beast. Well, at least that is what I used to feel when I watched the film.
Many people of all ages have watched this film because it is a Disney film, which is ethos because Disney has made many popular films giving the company credibility. The amount of people who viewed this film is a form of logos that proves it is a film that many people enjoyed. While negative messages can be found in the film, I feel that the positive messages outweigh the negative ones. In my opinion, the negative aspects are found by adults who over-analyze the film, but the film was intended to be enjoyed by children. Personally, I watched Beauty and the Beast many times as a child because it made my day better. I am certain that the negative messages did not affect the person I grew up to be in any way.