By Jasmine Alfaro
On March 17, Walt Disney Studios released its enchanting live action remake of “Beauty and the Beast” to audiences worldwide. The $300 million movie will feature an all-star cast with British actors Emma Watson and Dan Stevens, playing the Belle and the Beast, respectively.
The film follows the same plotline as its 1991 animated predecessor but with a handful of modern twists, one being that the live-action remake reached a landmark in long-running history: having its first openly gay character in a feature film.
Known as Gaston’s bumbling sidekick, Lefrou, played by Josh Gad, became Disney’s first gay character, performing an “exclusively gay moment” with another minor character, as revealed by director Bill Cordon.
In his statement to the The Guardian, Cordon’s explained that LeFrou’s reconciliation with his sexuality throughout the movie provides more LGBT representation on the big screen.
However, this brief display of homosexuality representation has not gone without backlash.
Russia has planned to ban “Beauty and the Beast” for its portrayal of display of homosexulaity.
Russian lawmaker Vitaly Milonov wrote in his letter to the Russian culture ministry that the film is a “blatant shameless propaganda of sin and perverted sexual relationships.”
Instead, the Eurasian country settled to air the film with an adults-only rating which premiered on March 16.
The Henagar Drive-In Theatre, a theatre in Henagar, Alabama, stated in a Facebook post which has been taken down, “If we can not take our 11 year old granddaughter and 8 year old grandson to see a movie we have no business watching it. If I can’t sit through a movie with God or Jesus sitting by me then we have no business showing it.”
They provided no further comments, but have kept their decision to ban the screening of the film.
On the other hand, both Cordon and Gad found the controversy ironic noting that the movie’s central theme is to never to judge a book by its cover. Yet, critics began commenting on the feature before that film was publicly released.
Gad told People Magazine, “What was most important to me was taking a character that is wonderful and so iconic, but is defined by cartoon conceits in the [original] movie[…] and expanding on that, giving him dimension, making him human.”