Why Everyone Should be Obsessed with Emma Watson as Belle

After watching the new live-action version of Beauty and the Beast, I have increasingly become obsessed with Emma Watson as Belle. Not only is it because Emma Watson is a legend in all of our Harry Potter-loving hearts, but also because she gives Belle a more independent nature. This isn’t shocking for Emma, though, as she has worked as a UN ambassador for women and has often voiced her concerns about various women’s rights issues in the past. Although subtle, Emma’s role in the creation of Belle for this film can be seen in small facets of the movie.

Much of Belle’s backstory is ambiguous in the original Disney film, often serving to make Belle seem as though she spends her days only reading - although great for Belle’s mind and education, this also implies that she fulfills the (former) female norm of not working. Emma tears this down, though, and reinvents Belle as an inventor much like her father. In a recent interview, Watson said, "we created a backstory for her, which was that she had invented a kind of washing machine, so that, instead of doing laundry, she could sit and use that time to read instead." This change allows Belle to be an independent, well-educated, working woman in the newer version of the film.

Source: photopin.com

Additionally, Watson wanted to make Belle less confined to the dress that the character wore every day in the animated version. She opted for Belle to have a set of loose pants, often worn underneath a skirt which had one end tied up to her waist - giving more freedom for Belle's movement. Along with this, Watson also vied to have Belle’s more feminine and constricting (not to mention painful!) ballet flats for a more practical set of boots. "The original sketches had her in her ballet shoes," Watson said of this in a recent Vanity Fair interview, "which are lovely…but she’s not going to be able to do anything terribly useful in ballet shoes in the middle of a French provincial village."

And this is why everyone must love Emma Watson: not only does she bring to life one of our favorite characters, but she also puts a feminist twist on it and makes the character more independent. This is especially important when so many of the Disney princess characters are often placed in the normative female role—dependent, silent, or (in Belle’s case) accepting of some personal abuses from males. Emma Watson's influence over and portrayal of the classic Disney character Belle in the revamped, live-action version are subtle and welcome improvements to the film.