What Beauty and the Beast Teaches Me About Resurrection

Eve and I watched Beauty and the Beast at the discount movie theater tonight wearing uncomfortable black 3-D glasses. She giggled at mine from behind hers.

She said her favorite part was when Beauty danced with the beast and when the beast turned into a human, and I heartily agreed. Everybody loves a resurrection, I thought.

In the next few weeks, Justin will be preaching about resurrection, both the resurrection that takes place when a woman puts her faith in Christ and the subsequent resurrection from physical death. And I couldn’t help but think how well Beauty and the Beast explains what that might look like.

We get the backstory first: The Beast lived in a beautiful castle, became arrogant and made a very bad choice. The result was a fallen world, er, castle.

Everything goes from its perfect state to this weird utilitarian state in which a person stops being who he is and becomes what he does, so that Cogsworth becomes a clock (a partial, certainly incomplete expression of his identity). 

The beast is turned over to the worst parts of himself, the inside being manifested in his outside.

Then the plot starts rolling forward and Belle comes and the beast changes. He realizes he’s been a terrible person/creature and begins behaving not like the beast but like the man into whom he’s growing. He eats with a spoon. He dances a waltz. He loves.

This, the moment when a smiling beast dances circles across a golden ballroom, is the first resurrection. 

At the movie’s close the beast changes fully into a man so that his appearance matches the transformation that’s been happening in his heart. He looks like he did before the fall, back when things were perfect and not broken. And while he’s surely himself, he’s a better self. Belle knows this almost immediately.

That scene at the end of the movie, with the now-human beast and Belle dancing, is one of my favorites because it’s not a completely new scene; it’s a repetition of that first dancing scene. It’s as if that first dance was a precursor to this perfect one, this perfect dance enriched and deepened because it’s happened before. The movie closes with Belle in the same dress and the Beast in the very same suit, the same friends surrounding them as they dance, but this time the dance takes place in broad daylight and everyone is fully him or herself.