Cartoon Gaston V. Live Action Gaston
I’m a HUGE fan of the Beauty and the Beast remake, and one of the things I have yet to gush about is the changes they made to Gaston. I LOVE a complex villain, and the writers did an amazing job delivering a character who is both more sympathetic and more evil than his cartoon counterpart. SPOILERS BELOW!
Friendship With LeFou
Live action Gaston and Lefou have a much deeper relationship than their cartoon counterparts. Original LeFou is from the first minutes getting smacked by Gaston gun. When he tries to raise the potential issues with Gaston courting Belle, not only does Gaston keep interrupting him, but threatens him into silence by yanking him up by the shirt collar. He hits Lefou on the head for making a joke about Maurice that he just laughed at. He forces LeFou to wait for Maurice in a SNOW BANK, potentially for days. They are not true friends by any stretch of the imagination.
2017 Gaston on the other hand does have a friendship with LeFou, even if it is not a particularly healthy one, and completely implodes at the end. Gaston listens to LeFou when he voices concerns about Belle and actually agrees with his points about his differences from Belle. He talks to LeFou about his feelings. When LeFou “goes a little too far” during Gaston, he doesn’t fight him, hit him or otherwise shame him for it. At the end of the songs he even tells LeFou he is wonderful and asks why he hasn’t been “snatched up” by a girl yet. LeFou knows Gaston well enough to calm him during his ‘rage’ episodes.
Somehow this all makes what happens at the end so much worse, where he forces LeFou to be an accessory to murder, to lie in front of the whole town, and participate in sending an innocent man to an asylum. He also threatens to send LeFou to the asylum, if he doesn’t play along. Finally he throws LeFou into harms way during the castle fight and then leaves him there.
Level of Affection For Belle
Cartoon Gaston doesn’t know Belle as a person at all. He is so delusional about who she is, he believes marrying him would ‘make all her dreams come true’. He sets up their wedding and invites the whole town before he even proposes. When she calls him ‘primeval’ he thinks she means it as a compliment. His big effort in “wooing her” is asking her to come look at his hunting trophies. He tells her she shouldn’t, as a woman, be reading or thinking. He casually drops her book in the mud and later puts his muddy feet on top of (another?) one of her books. When Maurice says Belle has been kidnapped by a Beast, he doesn’t even bother to check her house.
Live Action Gaston DOES know who Belle is, at least a little. He acknowledges she’s as “argumentative as she is beautiful”, but says she is the only woman in town he has feelings for. He’s aware she is resisting his charms and calls her lack of flattery “outrageously attractive”. He makes more of an effort to woo her. He brings her flowers and asks her to dinner (okay asks if she’ll cook him dinner, but still better than ‘look at my trophies’). He doesn’t mock her for her reading, but instead fakes an interest in it, so she’ll like him better. He practices his marriage proposal in the mirror which includes the words ‘no one deserves you’. When the villagers mess with her invention. he tries to make her feel better, telling her that the school master never really liked him either. He tries to give her advice on how become more accepted by the village (which to him is a very important thing). He says that he’s changed and could make her happy, rather than saying that she could change and make him happy. Finally and the most sympathetic thing that he does is that when Maurice turns up with his crazy story about Belle’s abduction, despite that fact he doesn’t believe it, he’s worried enough that he accompanies Maurice on his search for her. He wasn’t just humoring Maurice to earn his blessing, he was concerned about “wolves, frostbite, and starvation.” He gave up his evening and risked the town’s scorn for following Maurice, to ensure Belle was safe.
For me Cartoon Gaston’s descent into darkest is ALL about ego. Live action Gaston on the other hand has a little Congreve going on, “Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned,” which maybe explains why he goes even darker than original Gaston.
For the sake of comparison, let’s ignore that things both versions of Gaston do: 1) Inciting a mob to attack a sentient creature with no proof it’s at all dangerous and one person testifying that it’s not, and 2) dishonorably shooting/stabbing the Beast twice.
Live Action Gaston one ups Cartoon Gaston on every level. Cartoon Gaston invades Belle’s personal space during his proposal, but he never actually touches her, and being fair to him, her responses during his proposal are politely vague. Live Action Belle states very clearly in their conversation that she doesn’t want to marry him. Live Action Gaston responds by not only grabbing her dress, but tells her her options are basically marry him or starve.
Both Gastons treat Maurice like garbage, but again live action Gaston is the worse of the two. Cartoon Gaston plots to use the threat of Maurice being sent to the asylum to coerce Belle into marriage. Sick, but ultimately Maurice’s imprisonment wasn’t his intended end game. Live Action Gaston strikes Maurice hard enough to knock him out, then ties him up to be eaten by wolves. When that doesn’t work he tries to get rid of him via asylum.
During the Castle Raid and scenes leading up to it Gaston threatens his best friend with the asylum, offers him up to the castle staff, and then abandons him during the fight. Finally, in a small, but vicious move he tells Beast that Belle sent him. It may seem small, compared to all the other stuff, but still that is a pretty s***** thing to do.
My conclusion is the live action movies’ writers are geniuses, because the most horrific bad guys are the ones that feel like real people, layered and complicated.