Disney's live action version of Beauty & The Beast releases next month, featuring Emma Watson as Belle, and it's fair to say that people are pretty excited to finally be able to watch it.
But ever since the animated version, there's been a popular theory that the movie is actually a psychological thriller about a woman who develops Stockholm Syndrome and falls for her captor. It's a compelling argument, considering how she comes to stay with the Beast and the way he behaves toward her father and later, toward her, before his heart begins to soften. I've met a lot of women who survived domestic violence and most would say the Beast reminds them of their abusers.
However, while this might hold true for the original fairy tale, Emma believes the character in her movie (and the 1991 film it's based on) has a lot more agency than some people give her credit for.
Emma Watson was recently asked about this, and she's done a lot of reading on the subject.
“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 starts. “That’s where a prisoner will take on the characteristics of and fall in love with the captor. 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 goes on to explain that Belle gives as good as she gets, indicating that Belle isn't suffering from the psychological impacts of an abusive relationship:
“Beast and Belle begin their love story really irritating each other and really not liking each other very much. They build a friendship, slowly, slowly, slowly, and very slowly that builds to them falling in love. They are having no illusions about who the other one is. They have seen the worst of one another, and they also bring out the best.”
This girl has clearly done her homework. Ten points for Gryffindor!