Thursday, June 5, 2014

Up Next From Disney: Live Action "Beauty & the Beast" (& some lovely illustrations in the meantime)

Penelope Cruz & Jeff Bridges by Annie Leibovitz for Disney Parks Dream Portraits Series
Note: I wanted to post something different image-wise so all the illustrations shown below are by HILARY KNIGHT except for the stained glass window sequences/images - which are from the Disney animated classic Beauty and the Beast. Please click on images to view full size.

And it's going to be Disney's Beauty and the Beast, they're basing it on, not the fairy tale(s), of course BUT it still means they're going to have to create a Beast (and, if they go the full route, talking dinnerware etc too) so someone has quite the challenge to make it come off well. It's a no-brainer money-maker but has so many risks involved creating the world of the animated feature too.
My cynical side is wondering if this had anything to do with why the Gans film hasn't made it across the English-speaking border but realistically, the Disney movie is so far off it's unlikely to have been considered much of a challenger. You never know though. I have no doubt audiences in the US, UK & Aus would have flocked to see the French film just for the lush visuals and classic fairy tale and then it would remain a comparative project. However, Guillermo Del Toro has had his highly anticipated Beauty and the Beast project with Emma Watson in development for a long time now, getting ever-so-slowly closer to starting production (it was supposed to start this Spring but there's been no word) so perhaps Disney is taking advantage of the gap, or gambling on the marketing from dueling projects. I guess we shall see...

Here's the official word from Variety:
With the recent release of “Maleficent,” which grossed more than $170 million worldwide in its opening weekend, Disney is working fast on its next live-action fairy-tale adaptation. Bill Condon is set to direct a live-action version of “Beauty and the Beast” for Disney. Evan Spiliotopoulos is writing the script with Mandeville Films producing.  
Condon is best known for his hit feature adaptation of the musical “Dreamgirls,” and his experience in helming a film with strong musical elements will help this film, which could very easily go down that path. Condon also penned the script to the widely successful adaptation of musical “Chicago.” He also delivered two of the best reviewed films in the “Twilight” series and most recently adapted the script to Fox’s “The Greatest Showman on Earth.”
So what do you think? Are you interested? 
While I'm not bowled over by the news (and it's no surprise as it's been rumbling around for a while - this is just confirmation that it's actually happening) I'm definitely curious as to what they will do since it can't be exactly the same as the animated classic (it just wouldn't translate to live action). This means there is the possibility that other elements will be included in the movie, whether historical or cultural placement, older tale sources, even other legends that might inform the new script (Cyrano anyone?). I am curious if they're going to include anything from the fairy sequence shown in stained glass images in the animated film (see images below).
Prologue and end scene stained glass windows from Disney's Beauty and the Beast
It happened to Maleficent and the inspiration of Spenser's Faerie Queene informs more of the movie than not, which was surprising but also wonderful. Unfortunately, what didn't translate to the screen for those unfamiliar with older tales, was the ancient sense and respect/fear of Faerie people commonly used to have, (so apparently people were confused as to why the humans had an uneasy relationship with the Fae to start with). One of the novelizations laid it out in the prologue, being part of an earlier shooting script, but it didn't make it to the final cut. Apparently, the idea is something which, (to judge from a large number of "educated critics'" comments), people today are mostly unaware of unless they already love old fae legends and sensibilities. (When exactly did this knowledge go from general to obscure?? Was it when our books of fairy tales - the lesser known, mixed with the popular ones, fell out of circulation?)
The live action Beauty and the Beast is less likely to be a revisionist tale (like Maleficent is) but more of a remake of the Disney classic though, so I'm not holding my breath. Although it will be interesting to see what they do with the Beast in particular, (as many stunning Belle cosplays and photoshoots that they've been, every Beast attempt has... not), I must admit I'd be much more excited if they were tackling something entirely new.
By the way, here is the book those lovely illustrations are from. I definitely recommend it for your personal library.

1 comment:

  1. I'm definitely interested, and would love to see some of the backstory from the stained-glass windows. Right now I'm trying to work out whether I'll be able to see La belle et la bete in English here in Korea. Thanks for sharing the lovely illustrations!