Saturday, June 8, 2013

First Look at Christophe Gans' Beauty & the Beast: "I'll Eat You Up I Love You So"

There has been quite a bit of buzz about the different live action films of Beauty and the Beast in the works but it would appear the most anticipated version from critics everywhere (at least to date) is the French movie from Director Christophe Gans (Silent Hill, Brotherhood of the Wolf). And the "first look" image has only whet appetites for more. 

I really like The Playlist's response: 
Now in post-production, Pathé International took to the movie market at the recently wrapped Cannes Film Festival and brought with them a first look that positively glows with romance, or cannibalism. It has Vincent Cassel looking as though he wants to eat (Lea Seydoux's) face off, or maybe kiss it. Or maybe both.
! O.o  That actually sounds... kind of awesome.

They started shooting November of last year (principle photography was shot in Berlin) and it's been a pretty tight set, meaning, not much news, if any, has leaked during filming.

One thing we know is that Alexandre Desplat (a favorite composer on Spotify and other music players with Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows, The King's Speech, Rise of the Guardians and many other favorite scores), will be composing or, as one French news site put it: "illustrating the film on a musical map".

Another intriguing tidbit of news is that Gans and Cassel will be utlizing "performance capture" for the Beast's role (most recently utilized in The Adventures of Tintin and similar to the techniques used in Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Avatar).

Whatever we know (or don't know) Gans has set expectations high with this declaration while they were still in pre-production:
"Although I will keep to a form of storytelling of this timeless fairy tale that is in keeping with the same pace and characters as the original, I will surprise the audience by creating a completely new visual universe never experienced before and produce images of an unparalleled quality. Every single one of my movies has presented me with a challenge, but this one is, by far, the most exciting and rewarding."
While it will (almost definitely) be darker than Disney's version, Gans' film is aimed at both adults and children alike so I'm expecting some (hopefully subtle) layering in the story and directing, along with some lush new fairy tale images to drool over, er, enjoy.

In the meantime, we have an additional and fairly extensive statement from Gans we can ponder while we (impatiently) wait for more:
"BEAUTY AND THE BEAST is the adaptation of a story by Madame de Villeneuve. Published anonymously in 1740 as La Jeune Américaine et les contes marins, it paints a portrait of Belle, a joyful and touching young girl who falls in love with the Beast, a cursed creature in search of love and redemption. In 1760, a condensed children’s version was published. It was from this version that Jean Cocteau and then Walt Disney drew their famous adaptations. Overshadowed, the original version by Madame de Villeneuve has never been adapted for the screen... until now!
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST is the story of a family going through a crisis, having lost all of its possessions when the father was ruined. The encounter - at first terrifying, but then voluptuous - with this mythical Beast provides our characters with an opportunity to get back on their feet. I like to think that this film is a metaphor for the situation that is currently afflicting the world. That is one of the advantages of fairy tales, to present an ensemble of values that endure through the ages.
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST speaks, among other things, of the power of dreams and love over materialism and corruption - a theme more topical now than ever. It was time to pay tribute to Madame de Villeneuve’s story: an amazingly contemporary tale, in which the poem of love is also a message of hope."
- Christophe Gans
 I can't tell you how curious I am to see what he means by "pay tribute to Madama de Villeneuve's story".  Heidi writes the following on the History of Beauty and the Beast page at SurLaLune:
Villeneuve's version contains many little known elements and does not end with the transformation of the Prince. She spends too much time discussing warring between the fairies, the parentage of the protagonists, and the reason for the curse on the Prince. Also, the transformation from beast to prince does not occur until after the wedding night. Villeneuve's version also contains dream sequences in which Beauty is told by the Prince in his true form to look beyond appearances and rescue him. She, of course, does not understand his message and must fall in love with the beast before she comprehends his full message. 
Hmm. Not exactly child-friendly material so I am very (very) curious as to what elements Gans will be including. This is one of those times I wish I could grab a bunch of fairy tale scholars and friends, go to a well stocked fairy tale library/coffee shop and discuss the possibilities.

The confirmed cast so far are:
  • Vincent Cassel - The Beast
  • Lea Seydoux - Beauty
  • Andre Dussolier - Beauty's father (replacing Gérard Depardieu)
  • Audrey Lamy & Sara Giraideau - Beauty's older sisters
  • Eduardo Noriega - the "villain" (whatever that might mean)
  • Screenplay is by Sandra Vo Anh
Gans' Beauty and the Beast will be released in French theaters on February 14, 2014. (Yep, Valentine's Day, though some sources have said Feb 12 - either way it's the movie of the sweetheart season for France.)

No news on an international release date yet.
Additional sources: Moviepilot, RTBF,

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