Tuesday, March 21, 2017

'Wolfwalkers' Concept Trailer Released (& Funding Puts Film Officially Into Pre-production)

Things are moving along very well for Wolfwalkers right now! Today a concept trailer, as well as a look behind the scenes of the development to date, was released - take a look:
It was also announced that:
Wolfwalkers has received development funding from the Irish Film Board and Creative Europe MEDIA. Cartoon Saloon are currently in the process of pulling co-producers and financiers together to allow full production to begin in early 2018. (IrishFilm)
Wonderful news! If you missed the pitch trailer released very recently and are wondering what this film is about, you can catch up HERE.

This film harks back to the gorgeous stylings of both Secret of Kells and Song of the Sea, but adds it's own elements and visual language too.
(Co-directors) Moore and Stewart have spent time developing a graphic language that reinforces the themes and values of their story through the visual design of the film. As seen in scenes from the trailer, the Puritans and English army are rendered in an ascetic woodblock style, while the wolfwalkers and wolves exhibit a freer, more expressive line style. 
“When we see the world from the point of view the wolves, it’s animated in charcoal with a very limited palette and color only where there are scents,” Moore said. “In contrast to the block print style in Kilkenny we have a much looser look to the forest — lots of ink splats and loose watercolors and scribbly pencil lines.” (Cartoon Brew)

The film's story takes place in the 1600's, during the English Civil War, in Kilkenny, Ireland, which makes for a unique research opportunity for the crew, as this is also the location of the studio Cartoon Saloon. The folklore and history of the local area have been wonderfully preserved and getting out and about is a great way for the crew to get to know the town, and the production better. They made a behind-the-scenes film of the crew doing just that. (And you get glimpses of even more folkloric, artistic goodness!)
Tomm Moore, part owner of Cartoon Saloon and director of Secret of Kells and Song of the Sea, along with one of the animated short films within The Prophet, has as strong commitment to hand drawn animation, and though, he's open to using technology to enhance production, hand drawn animation will be the medium for this film too.
Drawing isn’t simply a defiant aesthetic choice in our cg times, but integral to how Moore wants to tell his stories. “We are hoping to show how the characters feel with great acting, movement and facial expressions, but also with how they are drawn,” he explained to Cartoon Brew. “As our characters moods and emotions change, the linework can become more expressive.”
Being willing and able to develop a human-driven graphic style that can adapt to the storytelling and characters guarantees a unique look and feel, part of which is 'the human connection behind the pencil', something which audiences today are responding to as strongly as ever.
We know we have a while to wait yet but we'll keep you posted on developments are they happen. We're really looking forward to this one!

Monday, March 20, 2017

That Problem With Disney's 'Beauty and the Beast'(s) and Why It's NOT There in the Original* Fairy Tale

All images in this post by Mercer Mayer, retold by Marianna Meyer (based on the Villeneuve version of BatB)
Note: There is a LOT going on in these illustrations, which are from one of our favorite picture books for Beauty & the Beast, especially regarding symbolism. Look beyond the foreground and main character portrayal to the background and details.
Longtime readers will be aware of this but in case you aren't, our Fairy Tale News Hound is one of the few fairy tale folk around for whom 'Beauty and the Beast' is not a favorite fairy tale. Most people look at us slightly stunned and repeat "Why?" a few times, so we thought we'd attempt to explain it.

Mostly this is a matter of taste but with the 2017 live action Disney movie freshly unspooled into theaters, we thought it was a good time to try, and why, though we enjoyed the 1991 Disney movie, we couldn't bring herself to outright 'love' it, either. The reasons for each are very different.
Note: Yes, we have read many versions of 'Beauty and the Beast' novels, including Robin McKinley's versions (plural), but none have really had much personal impact, as wonderfully written as they were. We should also note that at least two fairy tale friends and bloggers, whom we greatly respect and like, adore 'Beauty and the Beast' as their favorite fairy tale and, as a result, are much better authorities on the details than we are. This post is to share our point of view and the reasons why - not to persuade you to agree with our opinion. As we repeatedly state, we understand much of this point of view is due to taste only. That said, Cocteau's film is one of our all time favorites and we've enjoyed various stage and film explorations/ adaptations of the tale in a way, we never could the actual tale/s.

First: let's briefly discuss the original* fairy tale by French novelist Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve, which was abridged, rewritten, and published by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont. (Villeneuve's is essentially, the version reproduced, condensed and popularized in the Andrew Lang Blue Fairy Book as well). This fairy tale is... long. Really long. And it's full of what feels like extraneous, self-indulgent, utterly un-fairy tale like reams of unimportant detail. (Fairy tales, as a rule, tend to be succinct, spare, which is one of the reasons we love them so.. but that's another topic.) Both the Beaumont and Lang abridged versions are lengthy and the story takes a long time to happen.
The other main reason it's never stuck (to us) with great affection is that neither the Beast, nor Beauty, go through many real changes as people (only form/ externally). They are essentially the same people from beginning to end. (Other people will argue with this but although we see them going through a situation, we don't see the essential people changing in any notable way, and that includes at the end. And yes, we understand that others read this differently.) Villeneuve's tale, novella really, adds layers and layers of motives from outside the couple - various fairies, including the one that curses the prince in the first place, Beauty's sisters, the fairy kingdom, which it turns out Beauty belongs to in the end... it feels quite complicated, yet the main characters don't really change or develop as people - at least not until the end when it's clear Beauty, at least, has had a shift in perspective, even if she's not really changing who she is.
Villeneuve's Beauty dreams of the prince in his human form and becomes convinced he's being held captive in the castle somewhere so is on a mission to find him, but never does. (This we have to wonder at - is she just slow on the uptake here? Or is she just not willing to acknowledge the truth yet?) The transformation at the end makes for a very different surprise and reveal for Beauty, from what is now the familiar morph-to-man, and meshes the two aspects of the prince together - human and Beast, showing her she now has both. It's certainly easier to swallow than seeing the furball you've come to truly love, change form completely, so you lose what you should have gained.
For those who need a refresher, here a summary of the elements Villeneuve includes that Beaumont doesn't:
Villeneuve's original tale includes several elements that Beaumont's omits. Chiefly, the back-story of both Beauty and the Beast is given. The Beast was a prince who lost his father at a young age, and whose mother had to wage war to defend his kingdom. The queen left him in care of an evil fairy, who tried to seduce him when he became an adult; when he refused, she transformed him into a beast. Beauty's story reveals that she is not really a merchant's daughter but the offspring of a king and a good fairy. The wicked fairy had tried to murder Beauty so she could marry her father the king, and Beauty was put in the place of the merchant's dead daughter to protect her. She also gave the castle elaborate magic, which obscured the more vital pieces of it. Beaumont greatly pared down the cast of characters and simplified the tale to an almost archetypal simplicity. (Wikipedia)

Beaumont's version is much simpler (including the very telling change of transforming Beauty from royal personnage to down-on-his-luck merchant's daughter, that is, a working class girl) but it's very didactic (read, preachy). It's also still long, and in removing the fairies and the spite, jealousy and politics of Faery, and the dream prince mystery, a large part of the conflict in the tale disappears too - which then makes it feel rather aimless for much of the time, especially among the lavish descriptions of the castle and gardens, which Beauty spends many months wandering. Even the jealous sisters seem tame. Beauty is so perfect it's no wonder her sisters are irritated by her, though wishing she'd be eaten by the Beast is extreme. Told at length, even that conflict is tedious though. 
If the tales are blended and summarized, however, the tale has a lot going for it. (Which is, perhaps, why various stage and film explorations that nod to both have more appeal to us.)
When Beauty, who is both a good person and a brave and selfless one (as opposed to her sisters), takes the place of her father, it's by her choice and strong will, actively stepping in to complete a contract her foolish father got himself into by stealing. Surprising the Beast with her resoluteness and honesty to follow through on the contract, (which, yes, seems extreme - to take the father's life for a rose, though royalty at the time were known to mete out more for less) she is never treated as a captive. Instead she is welcomed as the proper mistress of the house, with all privileges and luxuries she could imagine. She spends her time trying to unravel a mystery and learn the ins and outs of the castle and grounds. The Beast never forces himself on her company except for a cordial dinner, at which he asks her, as becomes a ritual, to marry him. At first frightened by this, but then understanding the choice remains hers, the dinners become a way for them to get to know each other. For the time this was written, a woman having choices in any sort of matter like this was almost unheard of. There is a lot of quite overt feminism in this tale to begin with. Women were, essentially property - first of their father, and then of their husbands and both Villeneuve and Beaumont challenge that.
In this way Beauty and the Beast feels like a fairy tale - the change comes from the characters and their reaction/ adaptation to the situation. Like many fairy tales, the choice of action (and consequences) are made by the protagonist, even when she's a woman. The tale is just, for our personal taste, is not an interesting journey - perhaps also because most of the magic has happened before the protagonist appears and she's just adjusting to a new situation in which magical things 'are', like visiting Fairyland. Nothing is really 'different'. There's no threat, and she's the same upstanding person and so is the Beast. The end gets interesting, of course, with the magic mirror and ring, as well as the realization Beauty has, that the Beast's life is in her hands - she has the power of death or life over him and very nearly makes a tragic mistake. This, we feel, is the part that most resembles a canonical fairy tale, with the wonder element occurring and the protagonist then making their choices/reacting as a result and having to deal with the consequences. The final transformation of Beast to prince, is meant to be a good thing - showing all is finally back as it should be, after things almost changing for the worst.
We won't go into the rest of the plot but you get the idea - for about 80% of the text it's a plodding story with not too many interesting story arcs until the end (for our News Hound's taste any way). It's a slow growing friendship and, eventually, love - though erotic aspect of that love is something we just can't read into any version, just the sort of "I'll die for you" friendship, which is wonderful and rare, but still not one you put a ring on (usually), in which two people adapt to each other over time - a lot of time. Lovely but just not our style.
The Beast, in both original versions is, in many ways, a true Beast in form - something that frightens Beauty at first, though he never sets out to alarm her. If anything he goes out of his way to NOT frighten her and to be the gentleman-prince he is on the inside. And this key difference changes the entire emphasis of the story. Beauty doesn't have to accept or learn to love "a beast". He is never a danger to her. She has to accept that he looks like a beast, but she has to also recognize he is , in essence, a good man that she can truly come to love.
Which removes the entire notion of anything to do with Stockholm syndrome and doesn't even have shades of #whyIstayed (the second of which is more of the problem we have with the Disney versions). We can get on board with this, even if we yawn every now and then in the telling of it.**
Which brings us to the 1991 Disney movie. There's nothing slow about this retelling. Although it's filled with problematic issues (such as why on earth the Beast would imprison Maurice) the pace of the story is good, the tension works and there's a well-earned happy(ish) ending. The one problem we always had, however, is that the Beast is a bully and a tantrum-throwing man/beast-child. He's been under this curse - initially for bad behavior - and is just as bad as he ever was - after almost 10 years he hasn't improved. Belle runs for her life, literally, when discovered in the West Wing looking at the rose and yet... she comes to have feelings for him? She's portrayed as smart, brave and not apt to conform to conventions, yet, knowing there's a countdown (nothing like romance on the clock) she... what...? Decides she likes - no, loves - him now because he's no longer baring his fangs at her and looking like he's going to eat her? No matter what has 'changed', this is completely deserving of the hashtag #whyIstayed. (It should also be noted that when people fall in love, they tend to act like they believe the other person wants them too. It's only once the initial romance-high has worn off and things are familiar that those initial temper issues, are shown in their true form. Have they really changed. Sadly, the answer in the ninetieth+ percentile, is 'no'.) It's actually more backward than either Villeneuve or Beaumont's versions.
We understand how people believe Belle makes her own choices throughout the movie, because it does seem that way, but knowing even a smidge of how this scenario would play out in real life it also looks like a very bad situation. (Someone who throws things, is controlling, verbally abusive and threatens your life isn't someone you're smart to hang around with - at least, not unless it's proven they need medication, they get medication and there's a lot of work in self-retraining - even then most would say that's a no-go zone until the 'new healthier self' is well established!) 
It's the one reason we could never 'love' this movie, though we really wanted to. We were always uncomfortable that such a seemingly smart, independent and capable young woman would put herself in such a situation.
Abby Olsece, on seeing the new 2017 version, summarized this concern and maintains that the problem remains in the remake as well. She doesn't reference the original tales of Villeneuve and Beaumont, but is looking at the Disney movies on their own merit:
So, yes, this 2017 edition of Beauty and the Beast brings a little more compassion and an extra dose of feminism, along with its gorgeous visuals and great songs. But it would take a monster overhaul to fix what’s always been the central problem of this story — a smart, independent woman sticking with a partner who’s prone to unpredictable bouts of violence because she believes he can change. That uncomfortable aspect still sits front and center of the 2017 Beauty and the Beast, and it’s a problem that added musical numbers won’t solve. It’s true that redemptive romance makes for a great fairy tale. But it’s important to remember, especially when talking about a movie that’s been influential for generations of little girls, that the reality of a situation like this one is often very different. So yes, this new version of Beauty and the Beast is fun, exciting to watch, and beautiful to look at, every bit as enjoyable as its animated predecessor. But it’s also still every bit as problematic, even with new-and-improved trappings. (from 'Beauty and the Beast' Remains Enchanted — and Problematic by Abby Olcese)

So now that we've seen the movie, what's the consensus in the Fairy Tale News Room? It does seem Disney has gone to a bit of effort to address this failing of the 1991 movie, but it's definitely still there. Some key differences make the transition to friend-love and respect understandable now, but... we'll have to discuss our overall impressions in a separate post, as this one is quite long enough!
... and, if you'll remember, were transformed to become aware-stone statues by the fairy, to forever exist in the Prince & Beauty's garden, so they would always have to look on Beauty's happiness. Ouch.

* Please don't get stuck on this idea of 'original' and that we are using it incorrectly. Beauty & the Beast has ancient origins that should be acknowledged, even earlier than Cupid & Psyche, but this is the first time the Beauty and the Beast tale was recorded 'in this shape' and Villeneuve should be credited with influential authorship for the fairy tale loved and known to this day.
** Slight aside on Cocteau & Gans' French filmsCocteau's version (1946) dealt with all this wonderfully well, with the only disappointment being that the prince at the end is just not Beauty truly wanted and she, like the audience is left unsatisfied. It's Cocteau's updating of the fairy tale and his own statement on society and appearances, done very purposefully. It was a retelling with something different to say. Christophe Gans' 2014 film (that only became available for US folk to purchase and watch very recently, and with no advertising at all) pays homage to Cocteau's filmmaking but also references Villeneuve and Beaumont's versions in a number of ways. Belle is even more sneaky and headstrong in Gans' version, and Gans takes us in and out of the Beast's new and different backstory, told through Belle's dreams and mirror visions, developing a hauntingly beautiful and mythic origin story for the Beast. The journey for them both is equal in terms of trust and acceptance and that's made clear because there is no violence toward Belle at the start - just her fear since she believes the worst of someone who, in outer form, is a beast. By the time Belle wishes to go home, it's clear she's changed and has no intention of abandoning the Beast. He believes her, but also knows the risk, and allows it, because he truly loves her.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

'Beauty and the Beast' 2017 - Limited Edition Magazines: Which Is Best? Here's Your Content Breakdown

While many magazine are doing features and lovely huge photo spreads on the new movie (such as Empire Magazine's spread, shown at the bottom of this post), there are a number of magazines out in a limited edition run at present, all of which bring insight to the film, its changes and updates to the new version of the story, as well as the original Disney one. But are they really different? Is it worth spending around* $15 each, to get them all? It depends on what you're looking for. (*actual prices vary but all are over $10 and at least one is over $15 with tax included.)

Here's the breakdown:
  • Disney's Beauty and the Beast Official Collector's Edition - featuring lots of little tidbits about the story differences, so it's worth reading those brief inserted text boxes, as well as some nice detail close-ups you won't see elsewhere (eg Maurice's music boxes and their significance). There's also quite a bit on the costume art and the inspirations behind the details, (again, the text inserts hold some great info) along with huge full color movie shots and scenes.
  • Entertainment Weekly's The Ultimate Guide to Beauty and the Beast (Collector's Edition) - this is the interview heavy edition with cast and creators but also has a lot on the original animated movie's 'making of' as well as the stage musical, Disney history, Disney princesses and a couple of nice pages showing concept art of the sets for the new movie
  • Life Magazine's Beauty & the Beast: The Story of a Fairy Tale (Time Inc Special) - this magazine is broken into six chapters, and goes into great detail on the history of the fairy tale, including the real life Petrus Gonsalves in 1550 (which some believe may have been an inspiration at some point on the tale's journey), tracking the tale from The Golden Ass, to Cupid & Psyche, touching on A Midsummer Night's Dream, Bluebeard, The Frog King, The Ram, Madame d'Aulnoy's influence including The Ram, Leprince de Beaumont, the Grimm's Snow White & Rose Red and The Singing, Springing Lark, through to modern adaptations. It also looks at Cocteau's influential film in historical context and all this in good detail with classic illustrations from a huge range of tales along with old photos, well before it even begins to discuss both Disney versions (the classic animated film and the soon-to-be-released live-action remake. It finishes on the never-ending appeal of fairy tales and quotes The Golden Key (always published as the last tale in any decent Grimm's collection).
You may have already guessed but if fairy tale fans were only able to buy one, the one we'd highly recommend is Life Magazine's surprisingly in depth, yet easy to read, volume. Although the cover isn't, perhaps, as appealing, if you're looking for a tie-in with the film, the fairy tale content is worth the price. As far as we can tell, the writers for this are J.I. Baker (Editor and Writer), Amy Lennard Goehner (Writer-Reporter) and Kostya Kennedy (Editorial Director, also credited in the Introduction).
Empire Magazine's Beauty and the Beast 2017 feature spread in the February issue
(which features a lot of other movies as well)
Note: the D23 Magazine has a lovely cover and does indeed spotlight the movie, but it is not exclusively about the film.

Friday, March 17, 2017

'Beauty and the Beast' 2017: Best Thought Provoking Articles About the Movie on the Internet (so far)

UPDATED! MARCH 18th, 2017 8pm
There are a lot of reviews, theories, musings and posts in general discussing Disney's take on Beauty and the Beast - both the animated version as well as the new one. Here are some that fairy tale fans, and fans of storytelling - and adapting tales for various audiences - might find more useful and interesting than the current avalanche of reviews.

'Beauty and the Beast': 9 Differences Between the Live-Action and Animated Movies — and Why They Matter - from the Hollywood Reporter, this is one of the most thoughtful pieces we've seen at the differences in the new movie which expand on the animated classic and story. Most people know the Disney classic well so there aren't spoilers here, exactly, so much as an explanation of how the filmmakers expanded the story and why. For those who are wanting to watch the movie looking for those aspects they put an effort into developing (and which you might miss hints of in scenes in which those additions aren't the focus) this article will likely help you pick up on things you normally wouldn't see until a second viewing. For those who would prefer to see it without the hints first, it can serve as a reflective piece after a viewing, to see how successful the filmmakers were in communicating their intentions.

13 'Beauty and the Beast' Adaptations - a handy list and set of links to the various notable screen adaptations, whether they were successful or not. Each has had some impact on how society views the fairy tale, which makes for an interesting comparative tool.
There's another shorter list HERE with a couple of differences. The 'beastliness' of films is rated in this article.
A different list of 13 can be found HERE, and, although it overlaps with the others, it highlights a few different ones, including a specific episode from Once Upon A Time and a couple of other episodic series highlights.

The Beauty and the Beast remake is a long series of wasted opportunities - yes, that is the official title. We didn't paraphrase. The title is harsher than the article, likely to catch people's attention but it does critically ask the important questions of how to represent something in a revision/ reboot/ remake, be it active feminism, or acceptance of differences (race, orientation etc). (Note: it also makes an effort to point out the changes that did work, so this isn't entirely negative and critical.) Though it contains spoilers (so it may be better for reading after viewing the movie) it also makes clear how over-hyped some of the changes are, or how the changes, touted to be bold and needed advances for today, are, perhaps, still on the tame side, giving nods to these things rather than properly representing them. (Please note - neither the article, or we, are not saying things need to be explicit in any way. It's more about how one scene or moment can be undermined, ending up as a detached statement that doesn't actually change the landscape of the story at all.) Worth a read for writers and filmmakers looking to address equality for all in their work.

The boycott against Beauty and the Beast is about much more than the movie - quoting the article to give you an idea of what's being discussed: "But like so many of today’s cultural controversies, this fight over boycotting the movie is part of a bigger picture. It’s not just about Beauty and the Beast or gay rights. It’s about the outrage culture we’ve grown so accustomed to, the spectacle, and the opportunity to define ourselves online by publicly performing our morals." The article also talks about the importance of acknowledging Howard Ashman, the lyricist and co-composer of many/ most of the iconic songs that caused people around the world in droves to love The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and, yes, Beauty and the Beast. Ashman was gay and struggled with being accepted for his orientation, among many other challenges. "It takes a special cultural ignorance to protest the adaptation because it features a gay character, even though the original movie wouldn’t be what it is without Ashman’s talent." [Note: it may be of interest to christian readers that the Catholic News Service, discusses these aspects and still recommends the movie as "a must-see film intended for children" with the "pall" cast by the controversy being called "unfortunate". This article 'Beauty and the Beast': Why Christian Parents Can Calm Down is a traditionally solid evangelical approach, while being realistic about society, explaining why a 'panic button', and boycotting the movie, is unnecessary. The Evangelical Christian organization, Focus on the Family gives a movie review and breakdown here of the various elements of the movie from the positive through to the questions as well as any violence, strong language, and sexual allusions of all orientations.]

Why Is the Prince in Beauty and the Beast Always Less Hot Than the Beast? - To quote Heidi of SurLaLune: "There's been a long going discussion among scholars and others about the disappointment often felt by readers and viewers when the Beast is transformed back into his human form in Beauty and the Beast tales... The effect is much worse in film, of course, but it has been explored many times in fiction, too, by Angela Carter, Robin McKinley, and others." And this discussion has now hit popular culture, something we don't remember seeing much of when the animated film was released, but perhaps the live action/ CG simulated-live action aspect has brought this (along with other questions) to the fore. What isn't discussed here is that Cocteau, in his black and white cinematic masterpiece, intended the transformation to be a let down, and the ending to specifically be unsatisfying and a strong statement. No filmmaker since seems to have navigated (or successfully ignored) this concept gracefully since, and that includes this new movie. [Note: the animated classic intended to tap the Biblical concept of new/re-made man, hence the name 'Adam' used in the studio for the human Prince at the time, but that idea, as most girls who fell in love with the Disney movie will tell you, wasn't successful. He was definitely "less hot".]

A traditional tale with titillating twists: Beauty and the Beast gets reinvented (again) - This article tracks the traditional psychoanalytical interpretations through to the implications 'updating' Belle through to noting the social implications and automatic connections audiences will make to this new Belle, just in having Emma Watson in the role. With the strong impressions of her public persona, which include 'forever-Hermione', eco-conscious fashion icon, feminist bookworm, activist and UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, she is currently the quintessential model for brains + beauty that so many girls (and women) want to be.

There's Actually a Reason to Like Gaston in the New Beauty and the Beast - "Like" is probably the wrong word here, though it attracts readers. What they really mean is 'understand'. And understanding Gaston doesn't mean being OK with any of his behavior, as this next article - which should be read as a companion  piece to this one - outlines:
Why 'Beauty and the Beast's Gaston Is the Worst Kind of Disney Villain - "No one's a misogynist like Gaston." As stated above, it should be read as a companion piece to that one. Having the sort of background this 'new' Gaston has been given doesn't excuse any of his behavior  - as a character and certainly not in real life, as Teen Vogue aims to remind romantics.

'Beauty and the Beast' Honest Trailer Tells "a Tale as Old as Stockholm Syndrome" - This is a humorous video but, at the safe distance that comedy gives us, raises more - a lot more - than this much-talked about issue and is worth consideration. Disney's classic animated version of Beauty and the Beast has a lot of questionable things and while, yes, it paints these in fairly broad strokes, we all know that nuances of an aspect are rarely retained by the public over the long term. The overall impression - especially the unspoken ones - need to be considered, and in some cases, challenged. Even with revisions and updates in the new live action version, Belle's character motives still seem a little too close to home to the #whyIstayed discussion of domestic abuse (which is different from Stockholm syndrome but not necessarily unrelated). This 'honest trailer' that pulls no punches will, at the very least, enlighten you as to the impressions the story can give and illustrates why challenging, or updating the 'nuances' in a new version shouldn't be done half-heartedly. How much the new film succeeds at doing this on certain issues is still debatable. Good for thinkers but expect some protective feels if the Disney movie/s are personal faves.

The Primal and Mythical Allure of Beauty and the Beast by Maria Tatar - One for fairy tale folk and those looking to increase their knowledge of the fairy tale, and its appeal, beyond general knowledge. By esteemed fairy tale scholar Maria Tatar, you know this one is highly recommended by our news team. "Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” like the many other versions, gave us a vivid, visual grammar for thinking about abstractions: cruelty and compassion, surfaces and essences, hostility and hospitality, predators and victims. Like all fairy tales, it gives us the primal and the mythical, getting us talking in ways that headlines do their cultural work today. And they also lead us to keep hitting the refresh button, as we try to get the story right, even as we know that Beauty and the Beast will always be at odds with each other in an endless struggle to resolve their differences."

Crosswalk the Musical: 'Beauty and the Beast' (James Corden Brings ‘Beauty And The Beast’ (And Its Stars) To The Street -  Finishing on a fun note, this is both funny and shows how both versions of this film inspire people to creativity and continue telling the tale of Beauty and the Beast in news ways. One of the best things about this 'sketch' is that tale telling is being taken to the streets. The performance, stopped traffic. Literally. Take a look. (If you want to skip the preamble and prep and just get to the street performance, begin at 3:36):

UPDATE! MARCH 18th, 2017 8pm:
Reel Representation: Diversity in ‘Beauty and the Beast’ is less radical than Disney claims  - This article takes a critical, and thought provoking look, at the true amount of diversity included in the 2017 re-make. Yes - there is more diversity and clear feminism in the new movie but is it really as progressive as the promotional campaigns for the movie have been touting? "Holding up the moments as landmarks lessens the significance of true milestones and superficially lets Hollywood off the hook, making it seem like diversity is rapidly increasing when in reality, change is slow in Hollywood."

'Beauty and The Beast': Why Live-Action Remakes Can't Truly Replace Cartoons - To be clear, this is not saying the movie is bad or 'less', just that there are certain aspects in which animation - being the artform that is is - does exceptionally well, that is difficult to reproduce in live action. (In other words, sometimes animation is the best medium.) It's an issue worth considering when choosing how to tell a story, as in what you're trying to do in a specific medium. It is also the reason illustrated books (picture books) and traditional animation works so well at telling fantasy stories. "The very specificity that live-action CGI demands (and delivers) makes it harder for audiences to accept nonhuman characters as peers to the humans — they seem too alien, too dissimilar. By contrast, there's more in common between Belle and Mrs. Potts in the 1991 animated story, because the lack of detail in the line work means the two subconsciously look more alike.
The same is true of almost every animated story: the cartoonishness works in the favor of the movie, because the artists are rarely trying to be realistic — they're more focused on telling the story in the best way possible. That's rarely the case on a live-action remake, for the simple fact that there's an additional layer of "reality" immediately placed upon proceedings..."
Ultimately this shouldn't mean 'don't make CG/live action versions of stories - not at all. What it means is there needs to be more awareness about why things work in one medium and not another, and that those need to be part of the conversation when creating moving images in whatever medium, or blend.

Did we miss a thought provoking article on Disney's live action remake Beauty and the Beast?
Add it in the comments and we'll update the post and credit you!

Disney's New 'Beauty and the Beast' Hits Theaters Today (Magical Poster Showcase)

Beauty and the Beast triptych poster - Click to view desktop wallpaper size
It's a highly anticipated day for many folks - not just fairy tale fans - and no matter what critics are saying this movie is going to be HUGE.

The biggest draw is likely for the nostalgia crowd, which is one of the biggest guaranteed demographics. That double-edged sword also makes it apparent that this movie comes with a curse of its own: it will forever live in comparison to the animated classic, unlikely to ever truly be judged on its own merit. That said, nostalgia will win out for Beauty and the Beast fans because, at worst, it's going to be an enjoyable movie, even if its new spin isn't as groundbreaking as the first movie was.

We're going to see it in theaters at some point because, why not? It's clearly been made with love and attention to detail and isn't that what you want in a movie? Especially a family fantasy? In reimagining a well known story, even down to lines, songs and scenes that are all very familiar, each storyteller brings their thumbprint to the telling and we're curious to see the prints - and be able to see the details in the corners of the big screen - on this one.

We'll be posting some more Beauty and the Beast themed posts during the next few days, in tribute to the current social focus on this fairy tale, but for now, enjoy the fact that millions of people around the globe will be happily - excitedly - talking about fairy tales this week (at least), and if you happen to be out and about chatting fairy tales there's a good chance you'll meet some new fairy tale friends.

In case you hadn't seen them, here are the eleven, quite magical, character posters for the movie.
Yeah, we don't quite know what's going on with the Beast poster either, but overall pretty great. Here are the, better quality, static poses below, this time including the Prince. (You can click on them to view a much larger size.) Enjoy!