Following its release of “Cinderella” in 2015 and “The Jungle Book” a year later, Disney is continuing its trend of live-action remakes with its newest addition, “Beauty and the Beast.” The revival of Disney’s 1991 classic cartoon fairy tale “Beauty and the Beast” premiered on Thursday and is screening in most theaters nationwide.
Director Bill Condon transformed the tale into a spectacle with special effects, costume color-contrasts, as well as IMAX and 3-D viewing options.
Emma Watson portrayed the perfect Belle, shy and isolated, yet independent and strong. Her soft features and British accent make her an appealing and easily lovable character. Costume designer Jacqueline Durran molded Dan Stevens into the scary, horned beast. Durran received an Academy Award for Best Costume Design in “Anna Karenina” (2012) and is also known for her work in “Pride & Prejudice” (2005) and “Atonement” (2007), both of which were also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Costume Design.
The music, vibrant and uplifting, was composed by Alan Menken, who has worked on several other Disney films including “Aladdin,” “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” “The Little Mermaid,” “Pocahontas” and the original “Beauty and the Beast.” The vocal talent for the original soundtrack, Celine Dion, provided a new song for the remake called “How Does A Moment Last Forever.” The new addition creates a nostalgic melody to play behind the credits, ending the film with the voice behind the familiar and heartwarming “Tale as Old as Time.” The “Beauty and the Beast” song, originally sung by Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson, was redone by Ariana Grande and John Legend for the soundtrack, but does not appear anywhere in the film.
There were several additional noteworthy differences between the original and the remake beyond the music. The witch that casts the spell upon the Beast and his friends remained relatively anonymous in the original movie. The remake builds her character, Agathe, and has her re-emerge throughout the story. The movie also provides two additional scenes that flash back to the pasts of the Beast and Belle, uncovering the journey that brought each of them to where they are now. In these flashbacks, the Beast goes back to his days as a prince, the peak of his existence and the time when he was the happiest. Belle reverts to her childhood home in Paris to invite the audience to explore the relationship between her and her mother. The addition of these scenes, as well as Agathe’s development, complete the story and resolve some unanswered questions left by the original movie.
The iconic “Be Our Guest” scene, lead by Lumiere, the candelabrum, allows for the live-action household items to truly come to life. Mrs. Potts, the teapot; Chip, the cup; Cogsworth, the clock; and Fifi, the feather duster, were lively and vivid, and were integral forces to the flow of the story line. Mrs. Potts, voiced by Emma Thompson, channeled an honest motherly figure that guided all characters, helping them find love and hope among one another.
With the addition of new songs and scenes, plus a modern cast and high-definition qualities, “Beauty and the Beast” will have all fans of the original movie reminiscing about their pasts and hugging their inner Disney child.