By JONAS ALPASAN
Unlike the spin-offs of these happily-ever-afters that were produced in recent years, Disney’s recent take on Beauty and the Beast tried to be as close as it could get to the 1991 animated version: a beautiful maiden falls in love with a beast living in an enchanted castle who turns out to be a cursed handsome prince.
Yet surprisingly, the film still offered quite refreshing insights:
First of all, it is fairly easy to point out that there is more than one beast in the film apart from The Beast himself.
Gaston, played by Luke Evans – a conceited, manipulative, and deceitful young man enamoured with Belle – is the obvious and conspicuous proverbial beast in the film. He has an impossible temper and to refer to him as selfish is definitely an understatement.
It may be culled from the film that Gaston may be merely displaying symptoms of a post-traumatic disorder from the war he said he had served. His obsession, however, to marry Belle drove him mad, with at least two instances of attempted murder.
But away from scrutinizing eyes is a second beast, a far more dangerous one, lurking on the background.
It is no less than Gaston’s righthand man, Lefou.
Lefou is a much more complex beast. He is not the typical antagonist who is at the forefront of evil schemes. He is the kind of beast who sucks up to those in power and makes it appear as if they are blind followers to their orders.
But they are not.
They follow and take active role in these evil schemes not merely because they blindly believe those in power (or whom they perceive to have it) but because they want to reap its rewards.
Lefou is a classic example of a political opportunist. They are the ones who stay silent when truth is attacked. They are the ones who condone evilness to protect their self-vested interests. They are the ones who easily change their allegiance to save their asses.
Below are just some of the instances Lefou showed how he is the more dangerous beast:
(SPOILER ALERT. Do not scroll down if you haven’t seen the film.)
1. He is an accessory to the crime, if not equally liable, when Gaston attempted to kill Maurice, Belle’s father.
2. When Maurice survived, he tried to expose Gaston’s attempt to kill him. Lefou was publicly pressed by Maurice to tell the truth. He lied and refuted Maurice’s claim.
3. Lefou turned a blind eye when Gaston was about to send Belle’s father to an asylum. He offered the same silence when it was Belle’s time to be locked up with his father.
4. When they were en route to the enchanted castle to kill The Beast, Lefou felt that there was something wrong in what they were supposed to do. But he did not lift a finger. He did not dare stop or frustrate Gaston’s plan.
5. His only supposed redeeming value was when he saved Mrs. Potts during the mayhem at the castle. However, this happened after Gaston left him to fend for himself and when they were already on the losing end.
On top of these, Lefou survives after changing his allegiance to the winning side. In Philippine history, he reminds us of the likes of Pedro Paterno and Emilio Aguinaldo. (Feel free to name your present-day Lefou in the comments section below.)
Lefou reminds us of how political opportunists are ever-present in history, and so, not surprisingly even in fairy tales. Too bad because Lefou was supposedly the first, and so far, only gay character in Disney films and has been hailed worldwide for the LGBT representation.