Welcome to Disney Deconstruction! A series in which I’ll be taking a certain Disney movie, character, or trope and looking at it with a closer eye. Think of this as a sort of fan theory/speculation, if you will. Today’s question: Is Gaston really all that evil?
Recently, an image for the live action Beauty and the Beast movie coming out in 2017 dropped, showing Belle (played by Emma Watson) rejecting Gaston (played by Luke Evans) when he was trying to gift her with a bouquet of flowers. Without any context for this scene, it makes Belle look like a jerk. But, according to cast interviews, they seem to be wanting to make Gaston a darker version of himself. That’s all fine and dandy (it’s really not I kind of hate these live action remakes) but that got me thinking, was he really all that bad in the original movie? Let’s take a closer look.
Gaston is one of the more interesting Disney villain’s, because we see his evolution into a villain throughout events in the movie. Up to a certain point, he is a jerk, sure, but he doesn’t reach villain status until he decides he wants to have Belle at any cost, and uses committing her Father to an insane asylum as bait to get her to marry him. Honestly, I think that’s his most villainess act. Because what else had he done throughout the movie prior? Asked Belle out on a date, all be it a bit forcefully, and then ask her to marry him, once again in a less-than-charming-way.
Gaston is a jerk, no debating that. The climax of the movie, where I think he is the most portrayed as “villain” is my favorite song from the movie:
Let’s break this scene down, though. Belle had just returned from the Beasts castle. Before she had returned, however, they were dealing with Belle’s Father ranting and raving about a beast who had taken his daughter, and that they needed to go save Belle before he did something terrible to her. The townspeople ignored him until they had proof via the magic mirror, and the image they see of the Beast? Him snarling and generally acting like a monster. So what does Gaston, the towns huntsman and hero do?
“Let’s go kill the Beast!”
You can argue that Gaston is only protecting his people, the woman he wants as his wife from this creature he just recently found out existed. Knowing that the Beast not only exists, but that Belle’s Father’s rantings were true and he was holding Belle captive, would only make him want to protect her more. Granted, when Belle is talking to Gaston about the Beast and he goes “Why Belle, I think you love him” that definitely is a spark of jealousy there, but is it a spark of jealousy based on good intentions? Does he simply want to kill the Beast to protect the people he loves, that love him in return? Or was this rampage only based on jealousy, lust, wanting something that he couldn’t have.
(As a side note, Beast going “Get out” is so badass)
Instead of a straight up villain, I like to think of Gaston as more of a mirror. Because at the beginning of the movie, we see both Beast and Gaston are very similar. Both are entitled, selfish, and unwilling to change their mindsets. It takes Belle interacting with the Beast, and his willingness to change for him to transform back to his human self, and become a different person. Gaston, on the other hand, has the same amount of time to spend with Belle (probably even longer, because she had been living in the town for a while) but instead of changing, stays the way he is because everyone around him not only accepts his behavior, but praises it. They both have the same type of hero’s journey, with Gaston’s tale being a tale of caution, and the Beasts tale being one of growth, and reflection.
I don’t think Gaston is someone to see as a villain, but is someone to pity. He had everything going for him, if only he was able to think a bit more of others, and not himself. He’s a person that can exist in reality, someone you could easily meet in your life and those are the types of villain’s I adore because they already have a layer of dimension to them.
It seems like the live action movie is going to be exploring that a bit more, and I’m hoping they do that well. Because from the trailers I’ve seen so far, this movie is going to be a rough ride.
What do you think of Gaston? Am I on to something, or just talking crazy talk. What are your thoughts about the live action movie coming out next year?