This is a secret that’s been kept within the circle of my closest friends, but I have a lot of problematic cartoon Disney character crushes. They include dogs (Dodger from Oliver and Company) and lions (Kovu from The Lion King 2), but my most unconventional infatuation has always been Lumière from Beauty and the Beast. Unfortunately, the new live action Beauty and the Beast movie is trying to ruin that for me.
Even though Lumière is an anthropomorphic candlestick and my fondness for him isn’t exactly something I mention when I introduce myself to people, my crush on Lumiere has always felt – perhaps deceptively – discerning. Characters like Prince Eric from The Little Mermaid or Flynn from Tangled are obvious, entry-level cartoon crushes. Gateway Disney crushes, if you will. In my mind, being into Lumière meant you were a person of distinction. You appreciated his French accent, his showmanship, his exacting standards, his loyalty. It takes quite an enchantment to endow a candlestick with as much swag as monsieur Lumière, but like many of the bewitched items in the house, Lumière was more appealing in his cursed candlestick form then he was as a human being after the spell is broken. Lumière’s disappointing human form has always been my justification for metaphorically and literally carrying a torch for him.
When I heard they were making a live action version of Beauty and the Beast, I was excited. As a brunette who likes books, I identified with BatB on a spiritual level. Belle was always my favorite Disney princess because she looked the most like me, which is really only saying she wasn’t blonde and wasn’t a mermaid. It was Belle’s golden ball gown I pretended would flatter my skin tone. It was the Beast’s library that inspired my lofty, inimitable design goals for my future home. It was “Be Our Guest” that I played at full volume while I spun down the long hallway that connects the living room to the kitchen at home. Emma Watson seemed an obvious choice for Belle, but when I heard Ewan McGregor was cast as Lumiere, I was ambivalent.
Of course I love Ewan McGregor – I am capable of appreciating men that don’t have candles for hands – but I worried my innocent crush on Lumière might become creepy. It’s one thing to have a little crush on a cartoon candlestick and quite another to lust after a live action accent piece. But it turns out my fears were misguided, because now that I’ve had a look at how Lumière looks in the live action movie (Can we also discuss what I think is the feather duster????), I may not feel the same way about this new Lumiere as I do about cartoon Lumière:
Live action Lumière looks like the result of a jaded actor’s temper tantrum, like they’ve grown to resent the Oscar they won years ago, so they melted it down and sculpted it into a fancy French gentleman and stuck candles in it. One of my friends actually texted me the first picture of live action Lumière, and she said, “You know exactly who that is.” But I didn’t know. I actually thought it was an ornate interpretation of Jesus Christ in candelabra form, and I wasn’t sure what to say about it. This thing is not the candlestick I know and love with the expressive eyebrows and big smile that lights up the room more than his flames. Live action Lumière looks like the kind of item someone would bring to PBS’s Antiques Roadshow as “19th Century 24 Karat Gold Candle Man” and be shocked when they learn it’s only spray painted gold and is therefore worth 10 to 25 bucks, tops.
I find myself at a troubling crossroads. Is being a cartoon a requirement for me to be attracted to men in candlestick form, or is my affection for Lumière more nostalgic than romantic? I won’t be able to determine where I stand with Lumière until I see the new live action movie, but one thing is clear: This new Lumière looks like a garish family heirloom you bust out only when your great aunt Eloise is coming to visit. And I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to rely on him to sing me off to sleep as I digest.