Tue 14 Nov 2017, 00:00 | (0)
Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans
One of the great Disney animated movie classics, Beauty and the Beast, gets the live-action treatment, with a heavy-hitting cast, new score and stunning visuals to update a classic for the 21st century. The 1991 animated film was itself a remake of Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont’s 18th-century fairytale and was a hit for Disney, spawning a West End and Broadway-conquering stage production scored by Sir Tim Rice.
Belle (Emma Watson) is a bright, beautiful and independent young woman, who is taken prisoner by the Beast (Dan Stevens) in his castle after trading places with her father, imprisoned for ‘stealing’ a flower from the Beast’s garden to give to her as a present. She eventually befriends the castle's enchanted staff and learns to look beyond the Beast's hideous exterior, allowing her to recognize the kind heart and soul of the true prince that hides on the inside.
A Prince spurns an enchantress disguised as a beggar when she offers him a rose in exchange for shelter on a stormy night, and is cursed into the form of the Beast, with his staff assuming the form of household objects. The castle is erased from the memories of their loved ones and the rose is cursed too, with a warning to the Prince that the curse will never lift unless he learns to love another - and earn their love in return - before the last petal falls.
Captured at the expense of her father, Belle befriends the castle's servants, who invite her to a spectacular dinner. When she wanders into the forbidden West wing and finds the rose, the Beast, enraged, scares her into the woods where she is ambushed by a pack of wolves. The Beast comes to her aid, but is injured. As Belle nurses his wounds, a friendship develops between them and he shows her a gift from the enchantress, a book that transports readers wherever they want. Belle uses it to visit her childhood home in Paris, where she discovers that she and her father were forced to leave her mother's deathbed when her mother succumbed to the plague.
Arrogant former soldier Gaston, intent on winning the unwilling Belle’s hand, leads a mob against the Beast. The Beast overpowers Gaston, but is fatally shot, dying as the rose’s last petal falls. After Belle tearfully professes her love to him, the enchantress reveals herself and undoes the curse, repairing the crumbling castle, and restoring the Beast's and servants' human forms - and the villagers' happy memories. The Prince and Belle host a ball for the kingdom, where they dance happily.
Director Bill Condon originally approached with a proposal to remake the film in a more radical way, as Universal Studios had done with Snow White and the Huntsman in 2012. After some backwards and forwards about how much of the movie would be musical-based – Condon wanted an all-in live-action musical while Disney wanted more live-action than musical – both sides agreed to ‘own the Disney of it all’ and the project was green-lit.
The animated version’s 1991 score by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman was augmented by three new songs by Menken and Tim Rice, both Belle and the Beast received more complete personalities – the Beast even gets his own song – and a scene-stealing supporting cast, put in place. The result is a dose of pure Disney magic on a grander scale than ever before.