domingo, 16 de marzo de 2014


"If Belle's brothers don't enlist in the 2014 live-action film, I'll eat a lemon", I once swore.
I've seen the film, and I know they didn't enlist. But I will NEVER eat that lemon.
For a good reason, and his name is Jean-Baptiste de Beaufrémont.
Jean-Baptiste de Beaufrémont: my new crush!
(Ps. The spitting image of Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, who lived in the same era and attained far greater heights, but in civvies instead of uniform!)

Jonathan Demurger's portrayal and voice, and Christophe Gans's script, breathe a new lease of life into one of Belle's older brothers, the second son in order of birth... through his struggles against robbers and woodland spirits, until his personal "happy ending" as successful co-owner of a printer's workshop / publishing company, to dedicate his life to his passion.
For, to quote the novelization, he prefers literature to action (il préfère la littérature à l'action). The first thing he says in the film is that he's got a trunk full of carnets (notebooks) riddled with stories and drawings penned by his own hand. Now that didn't interest me that much until I listened to him reading his stories aloud, and thus, I found out what kind of stories he writes and illustrates... Here are a few excerpts from the novel he calls his ·chef d'oeuvre" (ie masterpiece:

"Déchu, (virgule,) trespassé de flèches, le jeune homme quitta le champ de bataille et se réfugia dans la forêt."
"Et après avoir vaincu le dernier de ses ennemis, le jeune homme rentra sur ses terres, triomphant, acclamé par son peuple. Point final."
(TRISTAN DEMANDE) Un nouveau roman, mon frère?
Encore mieux! Ça sera chef d'oeuvre!

("Defeated, (comma,) his chest riddled with arrows, the youth left the battle. He fled the battlefield, and sought shelter in the woods."
"Having vanquished the last enemies, the youth returned in triumph to his native land, where he was hailed by his people. The end.")

Had he lived in our days, he would have been the author of the novel series behind Game of Thrones, or that of The Ringstetten SagaLike me, Jean-Baptiste writes military historical fiction and/or fantasy (this may be a reference to a pear-shaped project of Gans's, a film of Der Schwedische Reiter that never was released, and let's not forget that the author of the original was male)! Plus, he's young and dashing...

My only complaint is that the literary passion was given to a MALE character instead of to Belle in that film (I have nothing against Léa Seydoux, I'm just saying that her Belle is a wallflower, from baby of the bunch to lady of the household, and that it's such a pity Jean-Baptiste is a GUY. I do imagine Belle having written and illustrated the carnets, reading out loud from them, distressed when they have to leave town because the carnets are left behind... and co-owning a publishing company at the end of the day. Giving that role to Jean-Baptiste, on the flip side, creates a Sensitive Guy and subverts masculinity; on the dark side, it codes literature as a male province and the pen as a phallic instrument). So, while Jean-Baptiste's character does not disappoint me (in fact, he reminds me A LOT of Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, his namesake in uniform instead of civvies, who lived in the same Napoleonic era where Gans sets his film, and who would become King of Sweden), I have that little critique.

Mari Ness says that [···] second brother Jean-Baptiste is an aspiring novelist, [···] She argues that he was given this somewhat individual personality, partly for plot reasons. [···] three brothers have gone into publishing [···]

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