Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few months it is impossible to have not noticed the shift that Hollywood (and the world in general) has taken, in the right direction, in handling the alarming amount of sexual harassment that women have had to silently suffer for basically forever. The #MeToo movement has proven to be successful in starting the conversation, and since then there has been a multitude of victims coming out and telling their stories. So, it seems like fate that the film Beauty Bites Beast would release right around this time.
Well, your first thought might be that this film is a reaction to the recent events, or some cash grab trying to profit from a social climate. However, this film has been several years in the making and has already been helping people all over the world, even saving some lives. But why is it fate? What is this film even about? Let’s dive in and take a look at the Blu-ray release of Beauty Bites Beast.
Beauty Bites Beast is a documentary film promoting not only the book of the same name but really a movement that stemmed from it, including several self-defense programs around the world.
Why should you learn how to defend yourself seems to be a question with an obvious answer. The world is dangerous, and knowing how to protect yourself is an important skill. This is, of course, exacerbated when you live in an especially dangerous part of the world. No need for a book there. However, author Ellen Snortland has shifted this question slightly, and in the process has started a very important discussion – “How come every woman and girl needs to know how to defend themselves?”
By bringing gender into this equation, we find out a lot of particularly unfortunate facts. It turns out (and should be a surprise to no one), that gender actually does play a major role in self-defense. Like, for example (and likely the first thing that would come to mind), the size difference and muscular differences between most men and women. In most cases where a woman is being threatened by a man, the difference in size and perceived power can be a strong deterrent from her defending herself. The book goes on to promote and teach women that size can be a factor in a dangerous situation, but it is by no means the most important one. A good example that I will shamelessly take from the movie itself is the angry dog. Everyone is afraid of an angry dog, no matter the size of the dog.
This film sets out to show women that they can be the angry dog if they are threatened.
I should also note here, that while the film focuses primarily on women, these principles are universally empowering, and there is also a focus on minorities, children, and the LGBTQ communities.
So the subject is incredibly important, but how well is this documentary made? Is it worth a watch? Is it worth owning?
Well, that depends.
This film is pretty interesting, in that it discusses and sheds light on a particular solution to a widespread problem, and it talks about a good number of success stories. But it doesn’t actually show you any of the practices used in any detail. So you will see several scenes of self-defense training, but this is certainly not a how-to video. So what is the point here, if not to teach?
I feel like this documentary is meant to make you think. As a white man, this movie is certainly not made to benefit me directly, at least not in the sense that I am being told that I can fight back if I feel threatened. It does tell me that, but for me personally, it is more of a wake-up call into society’s long-running and misguided history of making women out to be fragile and weak, which is certainly not the case.
Of course, the target audience will get an entirely different feeling from Beauty Bites Beast. I can imagine (and hope) that they will see this and feel comfortable in exploring self-defense options for themselves, and feel a bit bigger than they might have before, because size and gender are not everything, and no one should be threatened based on their status in either department.
It should be obvious at this point that the story being told and the discussions held in this film are important and worthwhile, but I do have one small criticism that sort of took me out of my experience, and that is the narration decisions that they made. Throughout the film, we hear a disembodied man talking to the author of the book. These discussions are often obviously canned and feel almost disingenuous a times. It’s really not something that should deter anyone interested away, but it just sort of felt out of place.
This film does not put a focus on visual quality. For the most part, the studio shot scenes look good enough but don’t wow in any sense. There is a lot of footage from on-site interviews and training classes that are clearly standard definition, but again, this movie is not about the viewing experience, but more about the thought and empowerment it aims to provide its viewers.
The audio track is completely acceptable but again is not meant to impress. The dialog is consistently clear and never lost. One small annoyance might be found in the frequency of the yelling in self-defense classes, but hey, that’s part of the class!
I would like to stress here that the films obvious low budget does not imply low quality. The scenes are for the most part very well thought out, entertaining, and informative. I would encourage anyone interested in the topic to give this film a watch, regardless of its indie roots.
I was pleasantly surprised at the number of extra features on this disc. Several of these are quite short, mostly in the form of a quick one question Q&A or simply the musings of one individual. However, the news segments were very interesting and it was nice to see an outside source discussing the same topics that were discussed in the film.
- KSTP (Twin Cities) “Fight Like A Girl” – news segment that shows a real-world success story of a woman who defended herself
- Ms. Sidikman on Grant Writers – a very brief interview question on project funding
- Dr. van de Kolk – some musings of author Van de Kolk
- Dru Sojin – 10 Years After – another news segment, this time remembering a victim of an assault and murder.
- Dalai Lama’s 80th with Delores Huerta – clips from a celebration of the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday. It is definitely interesting but was unfortunately edited, with some jarring cuts.
- Complete end credits
- Deleted Scenes
Beauty Bites Beast Final Thoughts:
Beauty Bites Beast might be best suited for a classroom or in a self-defense class, but if you want to learn a bit on the subject of the importance of self-defense for women, or want to share that with someone you know, this is a well thought out look at the subject. It is important to note that this is a BD-R release, which bothers some people, but considering the smaller roots of the project, that should be overlooked. You can find both the film and the original book on Amazon or other retailers.
Note: This Blu-ray was sent to us for review. This has not affected our judgment or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process.