Beauty and the Beast (2014 French): Classic Fantasy and Magic Bring to Life the Old Fairytale

beauty and the beast

Netflix knows me all too well. It suggested Anne with an E, and I loved it. And then it suggested the 2014 French version of Beauty and the Beast. I added it to my queue a few weeks ago, and again, I downloaded it to my phone to watch at the gym.

Now, I’m a big fan of the Disney versions — both the 1991 animated, and the most recent 2017 release this year. (Who doesn’t love Emma Watson?) But, the Disney version is just that — Disney-fied. It tones down the original fairytale to make it much more kid and family friendly — full of music and dance and cute little teapots and sarcastic candelabras. The original fairytale is a bit darker, as are most fairytales in their original form. Original fairytales also speak more to human nature — and also deals more with the themes grief, mourning, selfishness, pettiness, materialism, jealousy, and love. So it was different and refreshing to get a more true-to-the-book depiction of this classic tale.

The first thing I noticed was how colorful the film is. The colors are vibrant, and the costume choices for Belle reflect how she changes throughout the film. The scenery of the French countryside is enchanting in itself, too.

For a bit of a plot background, Belle has 5 siblings, and her father is a merchant who lost all of his money during a shipwreck. The family had to sell all of their things and move to the country. Her father learned one of his ships actually survived the wreck, and went into town to see what goods he could salvage,and promised a gift for each of his children. Her five siblings requested jewels and gold and lavish clothes. But Belle requests a rose, so that she can plant one in the garden because roses don’t grow in their part of the country. Turns out, the information that the ship survived was false, so her father begrudgingly trudged home. He then gets disoriented and lost in a storm and stumbles upon the enchanted castle. He was stunned, then greedy. He filled his horse and buggy with all of the gold and jewels he could carry, and plucked one rose for Belle. The beast then lunges out from a tree and threatens to kill him. The father begs for his life, and the beast allows him to go say goodbye to his family, as long as he returns — if he doesn’t, everyone will die.

Belle is aghast when she learns of this news, and refuses to let her father sacrifice himself, so goes to the castle to take his place.

I like Belle in this movie. She’s beautiful, but she’s also smart. She understands that she’s being held prisoner, but also doesn’t really fall for all the lavish items the Beast bestows upon her. He gives her a new dress to wear each day — and let’s her explore the castle grounds, as long as she eats dinner with him every night. Why would he do all of this if she was his prisoner? Makes sense to be wary of a man, who is also a beast, to be a little suspicious of his motives.

I also like Beast, though. We learn from the dreams that Belle has at the castle that he was a bit cocky in his past, and was obsessed with killing a golden deer in the forest. There isn’t a Gaston character in this movie, but the Beast/Prince did have the arrogant personality that Gaston had. He also had a beautiful Princess. So in the present with Belle, it’s apparent that he’s remorseful of his past, and regrets many things, and is ashamed of his hideous appearance.

The fantasy and magic here is not the same as a romantic drama — Belle is no damsel in distress. She is courageous, fearless, and has more common sense than her siblings. Though the Beast does want to win her love, the way it’s done here in this movie is through the magic. Because Belle can see into his past through his dreams, she is able to see through the fur and the fangs that she’s presented with in the present.

If you like fantasy movies and the tale of Beauty and the Beast, you’ll enjoy the French version. You do have to read the subtitles, but because this is a story we are all for the most part familiar with, reading the subtitles was not distracting or burdensome while watching the movie.

Other things to look out for that you’ll enjoy:

  • The cute transformed hounds that look like little big-eared goblins. They take the place of Mrs. Potts, Lumiere, Cogsworth, and honestly, I like them so much better here.
  • Belle’s red dress at the end of the movie. Red stands out so much more than yellow. The color fits better with the symbolism here, too. Look at the other colors she wears, too.
  • The stone giants that the Beast can control. Amazing.
  • The dancing scene. Not the ballroom dance you might be anticipating, but very well done.
  • The symbolism of the Forest and the spirits and Gods that dwell there.

 

And one more thing, where do we get that healing water for purchase?

What did you think of this film? What other versions of Beauty and the Beast should I check out?

Happy watching!

Why I Switched to Spotify

This isn’t an ad for Spotify, by the way, this is simply my personal experience and opinion.

When Pandora was introduced to me, I was obsessed and set on it. I was never the type to get hooked on specific artists or even know what kind of music I really listened to. I grew up watching more TV than listening to music, and when I first started driving the shared family car, I’d just listen to the pop stations, or whatever was in the CD player (usually Dispatch or Guster — both of which I grew to love). Anyway, my point is that I didn’t really have a taste or any sort of great knowledge of music. College introduced me to the classics (Beatles, The Who, Pink Floyd, etc.), but I still couldn’t say that I really knew what I enjoyed.

So, Pandora came along, and saved me. I started listening to the popular stations, and made a few customized ones. But I always found myself skipping songs. And even recently, I was playing a station that I thought I curated over the years to play only songs I loved, and it kept playing music that I hated. Instead, I’d turn on my husband’s favorite Pandora station, which was full of songs that were amazing. But he said he’d been working on that station for years and years and years. He worked hard to thumbs up and thumbs down each individual song. I knew that it would take me too long to customize a station like that for myself, so I was like, OK, I’m not even going to bother then. I’ll just listen to his station.

Problem not solved, though. Why you ask? I wanted to create a very specific playlist for our wedding, and this type of customization could not be done with Pandora. So I signed onto Spotify. I was scared at first. How could I, the music novice, make a playlist that could even ever be perfect? How do I start to find the songs that would fit here?

Turns out, it wasn’t as hard or daunting as it first seemed. Spotify seems scary when you say “you have to make your own playlist”. But, you can search for playlists that other people have already created! So I searched for “Wedding Playlists” and so many popped up! So I listened to a bunch, and then could hand pick the ones that I loved the most — therefore making the ultimate playlist. I worked so hard on it, and know that I’ll continue to love listening to it now and many moons from now.

Spotify is cool, too, because it will suggest songs that it thinks you’ll like — but it doesn’t force you to listen to them like Pandora does. The free version does have a limited amount of skips like Pandora, but I actually found myself skipping much less on Spotify in the first place. And since you can create your own playlists, it’s easy for me to grab the ones that resonated most with me and put them into their own playlists or save them to my library.

Am I sounding old right now? Am I the last one to join the Spotify train? Probably. But I don’t care. I’m glad I’m here now. (I will also still use Pandora once in a while.)

For now, I’d like to share with you a playlist I created specifically for this post (see below). It’s a mixture of calming folk and indie. I find it’s good to listen to at work, in the car, doing the dishes, having a glass of wine with your significant other or friends, or just vegging out by yourself on the couch with your pets.

Enjoy — and stay tuned for more nerding out about music and lovely little playlists.

p.s. Music makes your soul happy, so listen to more of it.

 

Easy Cooking: Chicken and Prosciutto

chicken
Nothing fancy for this dish — all you need are the 5 ingredients and a big ol’ skillet

You’d be surprised that despite having kept a cooking blog for many years, I still have trouble finding recipes I like to make, and would make again. Part of the problem is that I don’t find recipes that are simple enough, and don’t take a long time to make. But I don’t just want easy recipes that don’t taste stellar, or use a lot of canned or prepared ingredients.

So I’d like to feature here on occasion the recipes I find that are the following:

  • Delicious
  • Easy
  • Quick

First up: Chicken with Spinach, Prosciutto, and Mozzarella. 

Time: 25 minutes start to finish

Ingredients:

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or chicken breasts)
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 oz fresh baby spinach
  • 4 thin slices prosciutto
  • 4 thin slices mozzarella (shredded mozzarella works fine, too)

Directions:

  1. Season chicken with salt and pepper
  2. Heat butter in large skillet over medium high heat until hot.
  3. Add chicken, turning once until golden, about 6 minutes per side.
  4. Place 1/4 cup spinach, 1 prosciutto slice, and 1 mozzarella slice over each piece of chicken and cook over low heat, covered, until cheese melts and chicken is cooked through.

Source: Gourmet’s Five Ingredient’s

That. Is. It. It’s so simple and really spectacularly delicious. No fuss. No frills. Easy to serve with different sides like rice, or potatoes, or couscous. You can eat some for dinner and save the rest to put in a sandwich the next day.

I have other recipes for other posts I’d like to share that are quick and easy. Legitimately so, too. Because have you ever picked up a cookbook that claims the recipes are FAST or SPEEDY or EASY, and then once you start prepping, you look up and suddenly an hour has gone by? Something that peeves me the most about cookbooks is that blatant false advertising. And it’s not because I’m an inexperienced cook. It’s because half the time the ingredients list sneakily states that you need to have chopped peppers, or diced onions — and that’s before all the actual cooking begins. So, in reality, something that claims it takes 30 minutes, often takes me an hour and a half. Then we have to consider the cleanup involved. Dinner often begins at 6:30 for me, and sometimes doesn’t end until 8:30, then suddenly it’s time to get ready for bed. I’m always looking for meals that can be prepped, cooked, eaten, and cleaned up within a reasonable time-frame. And I look forward to sharing the ones that are successful for me with you here.

What are some of your favorite delicious, easy, and quick recipes?

Anne with an E: Full of charm and nostalgia

Image result for anne with an e
Amybeth McNulty plays Anne Shirley in “Anne with an E”

 

When I first heard that Anne of Green Gables was getting a remake, I thought to myself, “No way could they ever top the 1985 mini series, or the book.”

And to be honest, I forgot that the whole remake was even happening until I opened Netflix yesterday and there it was — a photo of a freckly red-headed, wide-eyed girl — in the background of the clever title, “Anne with an E”. I was curious — how would it be different or the same as the mini-series, which I watched time and time again as a teenager? Could it even ever compare to the books, which I read with such a passion as a kid? So — to figure it out — I downloaded the first episode and began watching it while I was at the gym.

The first episode (of seven for the first season) is actually very very similar to both the mini series and the book. They all have to set up Anne in some way, and that’s a tough thing to do. When Anne comes from the orphanage she’s excited, scared, chatty, dreamy, imaginative, temperamental, emotional, unsure, and exhausted. It’s a lot to fit into one character, and the first thing that struck me about this series was the actress that plays Anne — Amybeth McNulty. I don’t want to say she’s better than Megan Follows — but she’s different, and in a good way. It’s so clear to me that this girl studied the books and says her lines with such precision and enthusiasm. Anne is not an easy character to play. And somehow she does it just right. She runs through her sentences to the point where she needs to take gasping breaths — and widens her eyes at the beauty that surrounds her in Matthew’s buggy. You can truly feel what Anne’s feeling due to McNulty’s talent.

And it’s not just McNulty either — the entire cast seems to just get it right. Matthew Cuthbert tugs at my heart strings throughout the series. He doesn’t say much, but he doesn’t need to. The camera work only just enhances how he patiently waits for Marilla to stop scolding him or Anne to give Anne a wink or a nod — and quietly gives Anne advice when she’s in the depths of despair.

Besides the great acting, the cinematography plays a big role in the series. I don’t watch a lot of shows or movies that focus on Canada — and the way Montgomery talks about Prince Edward Island in the books — someone has to do that island some justice. There are many wide shots of the farm and the town in all seasons — spring, summer, fall, and winter. It makes me want to take a trip up there to see in person what Anne exuberantly describes as the loveliest place. And as a photographer who has dabbled in film, boy do they know how to capture the magic hour. There’s one scene in particular where Anne and Diana are swearing to be bosom friends for the rest of their lives, and the camera swirls around the two girls at the golden hour as they touch foreheads together and take their friendship vows. I can’t say that it didn’t bring tears to my eyes.

Some purists may not like the fact that this series strays from the plot of the book. However, I actually really really enjoy that it does. Besides the first episode, which really was almost word for word from the book, the remainder of the episodes only take certain chapters from the book — and instead, build on the back stories of the characters. They give Matthew more of a history than we ever learned from the books, and they show Anne having much more flashbacks of the abuse she endured at the orphanage and her previous family. It’s important to show back stories because it develops the characters and allows us to connect to them on a more personal level. It brings Anne out of the pages and into a springy pre-teen girl.

It’s sometimes hard to think of how generations past lived and breathed and thought, even through words on a page. But this series makes us see that 13-year-old girls are 13-year-old girls, no matter the decade or the century. Anne struggles with fitting in at school with the prettier, richer girls, and has to put up with bullying and teasing, crushes, boys, her period. I sat here thinking, “Oh, Anne, how I can relate!”

So if you read the books growing up, and if you liked the original mini series from the 80s, I really do recommend you sit down and watch the remake on Netflix. It is so charming. It is funny. It is heartwarming — and heartbreaking. It is very much like watching yourself as an awkward young girl trying to find her way in the world. You will want to cry with Anne, contemplate with Marilla, gossip with Rachel, dance with Diana, and admire with Matthew.

You’ll also want to book an Airbnb for Prince Edward Island for your next getaway — or at least somewhere in Canada. It really is gorgeous by the looks of it.

“Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.”

Anne of Green Gables

Happy watching!

Best,

Megan

Hello, and Welcome!

Hello readers, and welcome!

Writing the first post to a new blog is always hard. How do I introduce myself? What exactly should I say? How do I explain the point of this blog? Why would you want to continue reading it? Etc.

Who Am I?

First, a bit about me. My name is Megan. I’m 30, and I think it is a wonderful age. I used to blog a lot in my past. You may have really loved keeping up with my cooking blog, or maybe you followed my posts about my podcast. Or maybe you have never read either one, and are just familiar with me in person, and are perhaps too keenly aware of my forward personality, loud voice, and enthusiasm for karaoke nights. Or maybe you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, and are curious what else I have to offer online besides taking pictures of my pets and re-tweeting funny Star Trek tweets (i.e. @RikerGoogling).

What Is This?

So, then, what is this thing? What should you expect when you visit?

Here are my initial ideas:

Food: I’d like to share recipes once in a while, cooking tips, where I like to eat, and maybe share my opinions on diets or fads or trends. But, I will say upfront this will not primarily be a food blog. But I do want food to be a part of this.

Geek Culture: I’m proud to admit I am a big Trekkie — I have been to a convention, and would really like to go to STLV (Star Trek Las Vegas) someday. Star Trek is something I watch regularly on Netflix, and who doesn’t need a little more Trek commentary in their lives? I’m also a big fan of Steampunk and Harry Potter, and am always looking for more things to nerd out about.

DIY Projects/Home Improvement: There are always things to be done around the house, and I’m always finding cute things I want to try on Pinterest or from HGTV. I painted walls for the first time a few months ago, and who knew there was a proper technique? Or that pouring paint into a paint tray was much harder than it looks? Also, I don’t have a green thumb, but I’d like to get it into a shade of green at some point, so that my yard doesn’t look like a sad jungle.

Travel: I love being at home, but traveling is also a great part of life. I’m always looking for new places to explore, and I’d love to share day trips, weekend trips, and vacation spots I venture to on here.

Health and Wellness: Exercise and eating well are obviously important. We all know that. But it’s easier said than done. How can we indulge and stay on track? How can we be more accepting of our bodies and our metabolism as we get older? What are some fun ways to exercise? How can you stay mentally healthy when all there is in your day-to-day life is stress?

Photography: Once upon a time I was a professional photographer, and sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. I’d like to dust off my camera and start snapping some shots again of this world we live in.

Movies and TV: There are always new movies and shows coming out that need to be analyzed and reviewed! Are they worth watching? Which ones are epic and a must-binge? Which ones should be skipped?

Everything Else: Sometimes posts may not fit into these categories. Maybe I’ll have something political to say, or philosophical. Or maybe I’ll have a Random Thoughts of the Week post? Anything goes!

What are your suggestions? What do you want to see me write about on here? What would you be interested in reading? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

How Often Will I Post?

Some people blog daily, some weekly, some bi-weekly. Some have a random schedule. This will fit more into the random category. Some weeks I may post more than once, sometimes I may only post once in a month. But I hope when I do post, you’ll enjoy reading it.

Should We Comment?

Of course! I encourage comments and discussion on what I’m posting. I’m really interested in hearing what people have to say about my topics and posts.

However, this is meant to be a positive and friendly environment. I won’t tolerate hateful or disrespectful comments. Those will be deleted.

How Will I Know When You Update?

You can subscribe via RSS or get emailed when I update. Or you can bookmark the page and check back when you feel like it? I will probably post when I update via FB and Twitter, too.

Now What?

I’m going to get to brainstorming for my next post. Please comment about something you’d like for me to write about!

Until Next Time…

Megan