Dear Emma Watson,
I am sure you receive so much fanmail that it is completely impossible to reply or even to read all of it.
Even though I know that, I cannot help to write this after watching „Beauty and the Beast“ (up to now only in German) and listening to the original soundtrack (in English!) over and over again.
Back in 1991, the animated movie „Beauty and the Beast“ struck me like lightning. It was not only the music, the beautiful pictures and the story, it was the character of Belle. For the unhappy boy of 11 years that I was back then, Belle was the person he wanted to be, the first character in a movie to identify with. I could have guessed, maybe I could even have known what that meant for me. But I could not. It was unthinkable. Over the years, the details of the movie faded in my memories. I kept feeling close to Belle, the only Disney character I ever identified with so intensively: a bookworm with a big talent and a big need for imagination, a girl both beautiful and romantic as well as intelligent and ambitious.
It took until I was twenty to realise that in fact there was more of a girl in me than my male body suggested. I left home for university to study physics, dreaming of a life as a scientist. Away from my parents, I started to realise that what I thought to be a strange, pervert feature of me was not a thing I could get rid of. In fact it was me, the real me trying to break free. From 25 to 30, I fought hard to both be a physicist and get recognised as the woman I felt I was. I worked on my PhD while I changed my social role from a man to a woman, got hormone therapy and met a therapist every four weeks. At the age of thirty, I was finally there: I got my PhD in physics. Only one month later, I went to hospital and had the big surgery. Lots of changes occurred, but after all changes in academic titles, the name and sex written in my passport and my looks, I was still that little girl living in her imagination. I’m trying to be kind, to act not only on how I feel but also on how others might feel. And after all, I realised how differently people look at others, act towards others depending on gender or sex. Another transformation was induced by that: I became a feminist. I want to be beautiful, feminine AND respected for my thoughts, if those thoughts are worth being respected for. I want others to have this privilege, too. I want being respected not to be a privilege anymore.
Then I heard about „Beauty and the Beast“ – and when I realised, that idealistic, intelligent and courageous Emma Watson – you – would be Belle in that movie, I knew it would be more than great. In cinema, watching the movie, listening to your voice as the voice of Belle, I cried and weeped and smiled. It was perfect, it is perfect. Not only the looks, the voice and all of that, but also your conviction in real life and Belle’s conviction in the movie are in perfect agreement. Your portraying Belle reminded me of how I identified with Belle back in 1991 when I was eleven years old and how this might have influenced me. Maybe it only illustrated what was already there, even though I did not know then.
26 years passed since I first watched „Beauty and the Beast“. Looking back on those 26 years, I realise that the character of Belle is an impressive symbol for what I wanted to be. What Belle wants to be inspires me and shows me, what is still to be accomplished in my life as well as in the world. My life has grown from animated imagination to reality. I cannot imagine anyone to portray this change better than you have done it as „Belle“.
I won’t ask for an autograph or an answer – this is not about a trophy. But if you read this, I hope it encourages you. You’re a shining light to guide us to be better than we are, so that men and women can be beautiful, idealistic and intelligent – and everyone is taken seriously, regardless of his or her gender or sex.
All the best and THANK YOU SO MUCH for being Belle and yourself!
I intended to send this as a letter or email – which is really difficult. But it occurred to me this might be something that should not be kept secretly.
Ich wollte das hier zuerst als Brief oder Email an Emma Watson schicken, was natürlich schwierig ist. Über die Recherche gewann ich den Eindruck, dass meine Gedanken in diesem Falle auch vor anderer Augen gut aufgehoben sind.