One performance in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (2017) I most enjoyed was Kevin Kline as Maurice. I thought he captured several good parenting skills in his portrayal of the inventive father of avid-reader, and protagonist Belle. This post is a list of how well Maurice models good parenting.
Spoiler warning – this post contains plot spoilers specific to the 2017 Beauty and the Beast film.
The Positive Parenting Program (The Triple P, an Australian initiative) presents good resources for families. They teach techniques to raise happier kids. They encourage parents to feel confident they are doing the right thing. They instruct parents how to take care of themselves as well.
One blog post from Matt Sanders of the Triple P program describes the five things that fathers and father figures should know.
Here’s how Maurice stacks up next to those ideas:
#1 Talk to your kids – Maurice and Belle share some of the most powerful conversations in the film.
This is a foregone conclusion. Maurice respects Belle, and speaks to her as an equal. On to the next one.
#2 Play with your kids – Building intricate things is one of Maurice’s skills, and he created a finely crafted baby rattle for Belle to play with.
It’s easy to picture Belle and Maurice playing with various micro mechanical projects together. Belle was able to design and implement a donkey-powered washing machine early in the film with her technical knowledge, after all.
#3 Set a good example – Of all the people in the community, Maurice is the only one to stand up to Gaston. This turns out to be costly, since Gaston is a neanderthal with a mind for wily strategy.
Maurice aims to be upstanding in all he does, regardless of who is watching. Except for maybe one lapse in judgement. He tries to strike Gaston with an open hand. In his defence, Gaston had verbally assaulted his daughter, attempted to murder him, and was casually gas lighting him in front of the town. Extreme conditions, for sure.
#4 Keep your vaccinations up to date – While vaccination would not enter mainstream medicine until the late 18th Century, Maurice protects himself and Bell from disease. This is a key plot point in the film.
Belle and Maurice move from Paris to the country to escape a plague. Belle’s mother died from infection. Maurice was doing everything he could.
#5 Get screened for depression – Despite Maurice being a model citizen, Gaston disparages his mental state, and a dour coachman hauls him off to the asylum.
His mental health remains sound, despite these assaults. He speaks in an even, conversational way to the coachman from the Asylum after he escapes the asylum’s padded and barred carriage. It is one sign that Maurice endures pain and grief, but resists violence and despair. His positive mental state persists.
At the end of the film, Maurice has moved from clockwork and metal crafts to painting. He appears calm, perhaps taking time to recover from his ordeal, and celebrate his daughters wedding by capturing the moment with water colours on canvas. But this is why care for and checking on mental health must take priority – like Maurice, a person with depression can appear find on the surface, but in reality, need more help. let’s hope he finds what he needs.
This post was written by Joe at The Wallflyer. You can find more posts here at The Wallflyer, and you can follow me on Twitter for more updates.