In this new version of Beauty and the Beast, Belle (Emma Watson) is an intelligent and determined girl who lives in a small, provincial French village and dreams of bigger things. One day her father (Kevin Kline) doesn’t return home from the market, and Belle goes out to search for him. She discovers an enchanted castle with magical servants. The tormented Beast (Dan Stevens), who is actually the prince who owns the castle, imprisons Belle in exchange for her father’s freedom.
Belle’s father pleads to Gaston (Luke Evans), the vain and sexist town hero, and his sidekick LeFou (Josh Gad) to help him rescue Belle, but Gaston has other plans. Meanwhile, the Beast’s servants try to show Belle the Beast’s true nature, and she begins to see him differently.
Here we outline any topics, issues and ideas in this movie that might upset children and adolescents, so that you can gauge whether it is appropriate for your child. For example, children and adolescents may react adversely to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, separation from a parent, animal cruelty or distress, children as victims, natural disasters and racism.
Death of a parent/serious illness; separation from a parent; magical transformations; sexism
Here we identify any violence in this movie, and explain how and why it might impact on your child or adolescent. In general, movie violence can make children less sensitive to the use of violence in real life. Alternatively, they may become fearful about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world. In some contexts, it can also teach them to see violence as an acceptable means of conflict resolution.
Beauty and the Beast has some violence. For example:
- Belle gets frightened and hits Lumiere with a chair.
- The Beast locks Belle and her father in a dungeon.
- In a bar scene, Gaston throws a knife at a painting, shoots a gun, and has a dance-style sword fight with his friends.
- Gaston punches Belle’s father in the face and knocks him out. He ties Belle’s father to a tree and leaves him to be eaten by wolves.
- Gaston lies to the villagers and tells them that Belle’s father is crazy and they should lock him up. Gaston also locks Belle away when she tries to save her father.
- Led by Gaston, the villagers form a mob to kill the Beast. They gather torches, pitchforks and other weapons to harm or kill the Beast. The villagers and the servants have a battle at the castle.
- Gaston shoots the Beast with a gun, and the Beast dies (but a witch brings him back to life). Gaston then falls from a tower and also dies.
Content that may disturb children
In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, Beauty and the Beast has some scenes that could scare or disturb children under five years. For example:
- The castle and the surrounding forest are dark and scary. Wolves attack both Belle and her father in the forest, and these scenes are quite confronting and scary. When the wolves are attacking Belle, the Beast is injured trying to save her.
- At the beginning of the story, the Beast is scary. He has a short temper, roars loudly and gets angry with Belle.
- The Beast’s transformation from a prince might be scary for young children.
- Towards the end of the story, when the final rose petal falls and the Beast dies, the servants slowly turn into inanimate objects. These scenes are very sad and emotional. But eventually they’re saved and returned to their human forms.
In addition to the violent scenes and scary visual images mentioned above, Beauty and the Beast has some scenes that could scare or disturb children in this age group. For example:
- Gaston points to a woman begging for food and suggests that this is what happens when your parents die and you’re unmarried.
- Belle and the Beast have both lost their mothers. They’re grieving in different ways. The discussion of dead parents might be difficult for some viewers.
Some children in this age group might be scared by some of the scenes mentioned above.
Nothing of concern
Beauty and the Beast has sexual references. For example:
- Gaston flirts with and makes sexual advances towards many women.
- LeFou jokingly flirts with Gaston.
- The wardrobe clothes three men in dresses – one of them looks happy and winks jokingly. Later in the movie the same man and LeFou dance together.
- Lumiere and Plumette flirt frequently.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
Beauty and the Beast shows some alcohol use. For example, villagers drink at the tavern.
Nudity and sexual activity
Beauty and the Beast has some mild sexual activity. For example, several characters kiss.
There is no product placement in Beauty and the Beast, but plenty of tie-in merchandise is being marketed to children.
Beauty and the Beast has some coarse language and name-calling.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Beauty and the Beast is a beautiful and heart-warming remake of the original animated musical. With her kindness, intelligence, strength and independence, Belle is a wonderful role model for children.
Beauty and the Beast does have some violent and scary scenes, which mean that it’s more intense than Disney’s original animated movie. Therefore, this movie isn’t recommended for children under the age of 8 years, and we recommend parental guidance for children up to 12 years.
The main messages from this movie are not to judge people by what you see on the surface. The movie also shows the value of kindness and compassion. Some parents might be concerned about the implication in the movie that women can ‘fix’ men who are scary and dangerous.
You might also wish to discuss how Gaston treats Belle and other women, as well as how different people deal with grief after the death of a loved one, like Belle’s mother.