The power play between male and female relationships in Disney films has long been a subject of controversy, with questions about the lack of diversity, unrealistic beauty standards and prioritisation of female characters finding a man throughout the brand's storylines.
Unsurprisingly, the suspicious relationship between Belle and the Beast in the 1991 animation Beauty and the Beast hasn't gone unnoticed.
After all, this is a story about an arrogant prince who was turned into a monster, who then imprisons an intelligent young woman in his castle, before they fall madly involve and break a curse, transforming the beast back into his former royal human self.
However, as we wait in anticipation for the film's live-action remake – set for release next month – the film's female protagonist, Emma Watson, is keen to explain exactly why Belle falls in love with the beast, despite the fact she's his prisoner.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, ELLE's 'Woman of the Year' award-winner refutes claims that Belle might be a victim, confusing love for convoluted feelings of trust and affection towards her captor – a condition commonly referred to as 'Stockholm Syndrome'.
She says: 'She's giving him hell. There is no sense of 'I need to kill this guy with kindness.' Or any sense that she deserves this.
'In fact, she gives as good as she gets. He bangs on the door, she bangs back. There's this defiance that 'You think I'm going to come and eat dinner with you and I'm your prisoner—absolutely not',' she adds.
The self-confessed feminist – who exclusively revealed to ELLE that author Caitlin Moran opened up up to a whole world of feminist thinkings and admitted to feeling inspired by the Women's Marches in which she participated last month – also touches on why the story of her up-coming film is so moving.
There's this defiance that 'You think I'm going to come and eat dinner with you and I'm your prisoner—absolutely not'.
'What's so beautiful about this story as a whole is this idea that Belle is able to see past these extraneous, external, superficial qualities of Beast. She is able to see deeper, and that's one of her special powers. It is her superpower: empathy.'
Look, if Emma Watson says it's true love between Belle and the Beast, we believe it.