Disney’s live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast – starring Emma Watson as bookworm Belle – is due to hit cinemas next month, and fans are incredibly excited about the ‘feminist’ re-imagining of the 1991 animated film.
However there’s no denying that the moral ambiguity of the original film has often been a point of contention for many viewers, with some citing Stockholm Syndrome as the true source of Belle’s affections for the Beast.
Now, in a brand-new interview, Watson has hit back at these claims – and explained why her take on the Disney princess is absolutely not a victim of abuse.
“It's such a good question and it's something I really grappled with at the beginning; the kind of Stockholm Syndrome question about this story,” she told Entertainment Weekly.
“That's where a prisoner will take on the characteristics of and fall in love with the captor.”
Watson added: “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.”
Watson argued that Belle holds her own against Beast, “giving him hell” until the pair forge a friendship based on mutual trust and respect.
“She gives as good as she gets,” said Watson, adding that the relationship is the most meaningful of any Disney romance so far.
“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.’”
Earlier this year, a teacher issued a lesson plan to students encouraging them to see the original Beauty and the Beast film as promoting domestic violence.
“The Beast does not attack Belle but the threat of physical violence is present,” the lesson plan read, as detailed by Metro. “The movie says if a woman is pretty and sweet natured she can change an abusive man into a kind and gentle man.
“In other words, it is the woman's fault if her man abuses her. And of course, the beast turns into a handsome prince because ugly people cannot be happy.”
The plan goes on to explain that Belle’s “only asset is her sexuality” – and adds that she sets a very bad example to children, feeding into Disney’s ‘sexist’ narrative that “young women are naturally happy homemakers” who spend their lives waiting for a man to come along and “give them life”.
Watson finished by saying: “I think that's the other beautiful thing about the love story. They form a friendship first. 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.”
Downton Abbey's Dan Stevens stars alongside Watson as Beast in the remake which coincides with the film's 25th anniversary.
Both classic characters have been given makeovers suitable for their modern-day audience; Belle has been given a feminist backstory, as well as her own burgeoning career as an inventor.
The enchanted prince, meanwhile, will be very unlike the frightening and grave Beast of the animated version; instead, he will be very witty, warm, and friendly.
It is hoped that this will make his budding romance with independent Belle feel more believable.
Beauty and the Beast hits UK cinemas on 17 March 2017.
Images: Beauty and the Beast