The palace of Prince Leon (Alessandro Preziosi) was once a beautiful place where he lived with his wife Juliette (Giusy Buscemi), his cousin Helene (LÃ©a Bosco) and his uncle Armand (Andy Luotto) who would make the most amazing perfumes from the plants which filled the gardens. But that was before the fateful night when Juliette died and the Prince became a bitter man, his scarred face partially obscured by a cold mask and a disregard for anyone as he became reliant on Helene and a concoction to numb the pain he lives in. In the nearby village lives Bella Dubois (Blanca SuÃ¡rez) whose father, a sea captain, is in debt to the Prince and has no way to repay what he owes. It is why Bella takes it upon herself to move to the palace and work for the Prince till her father can repay ever bit he owes. But her arrival at the palace causes problems with Helene especially when she bets her cousin that he cannot bed the beauty with the wager being his failure leading to him marrying Helene. But Bella, a bright and graceful woman brings a breath of fresh air to the place which leaves the Prince conflicted but also tormented by his drug addicted side.
First things first and this 2014 version of "Beauty and the Beast" was made as a two part mini-series and was originally known as "La bella e la bestia". But before you click away not only is this a beautifully dubbed version but with a running length which exceeds over 3 hours trust me when I say the familiar storyline which you might be aware of has certainly been elaborated on with plenty of drama, romance and revelations to make it a surprisingly captivating 180 minutes of your time if you wish to watch it in one go.
Now I have to admit that I have never read the original fairytale of "Beauty and the Beast" and my knowledge of the story comes from the various big screen versions I have watched. As such I don't know how much of this version sticks to the original fairytale and how much was an elaboration on it but it certainly comes together beautifully. I say that because there is so much going on from the drama and revelations surrounding the night that Prince Leon's wife died to the treachery of his cousin Helene who is desperate to marry him. We also have the villagers who fear the tyrannical Prince and his brutal heavies growing to like him thanks to Bella but when Bella discovers his affection originally stemmed from a bet to bed her it causes not only conflict for her but unrest with the villagers as she leaves the palace. I could go on because the storyline genuinely fills the whole 180 minutes and even manages to squeeze some light hearted moments in there thanks to the Prince's butler Florian and cook Albertine, brilliantly played by Andrea Santonastaso and Cecilia Dazzi.
On the subject of the cast there is no denying that Blanca SuÃ¡rez as Bella is captivating, the sort of beauty who as a man makes you think she is well out of your league. But SuÃ¡rez doesn't just bring beauty to the role of Bella she makes the character a woman of grace, energy and a kind spirit. Quite simply SuÃ¡rez makes Bella the sort of woman you fall in love with because of everything she is from her kindness to her looks. But then you also have Alessandro Preziosi as Prince Leon, the beast, and he does such a good job of making Leon a man who is not only wrestling the bitterness which is eating away at him but also makes him a man who is addicted to a green pain killing liquid which contributes to that bitterness. It is wonderful to watch Preziosi bring out all of this nastiness yet with that element of kindness growing inside him fighting away at the darkness which is gnawing away at him due to the beautiful spirit of Bella.
What this all boils down to is that yes this version of "Beauty and the Beast" is long but I have to say that every minute of it is worth it thanks to a full storyline, great performances and it has to be set an impressive look and nice but not over the top cinematography.