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Beauty and the Beast

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We gave it an A-

This is a beautiful, affecting adaptation of Mordicai Gerstein’s picture book about a girl who gives herself up to a monster to save her father’s life.

Narrated by Mia Farrow, whose gentle voice and subdued but effective characterizations are absolutely mesmerizing, and embellished by a musical score that faithfully follows the emotional itinerary of the story, this version of Beauty and the Beast is transporting. Where it transports us to is the problem.

All right, all right, it’s a classic fairy tale, and I’m being a crank. But as I watched this tape with my young son, who was very moved and so I assume absorbed the story’s messages, I wondered, what is he learning from this?

The problem: The place to which we are transported is a place where being female means being utterly selfless and pure and connected to a man.

Beauty and the Beast is certainly not the worst story of this genre — I think Cinderella did more to skew my ideas about romance than anything else I was exposed to as a child. But the high quality of every aspect of this production made me wish that the video were as thoughtful as it is polished, and that the story reflected healthier, less sexist roles for men and women. A-

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