When French novelist Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve published her original fairytale “Beauty and the Beast” in 1740, she had no knowledge of the cultural icon it would remain to be for years to come. Even though the most well-known version of the story comes from an abridged work written in 1756 by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont, another French author, Villeneuve’s initial narrative about a beast who falls in love to break his tragic curse is still one of the most quintessential love stories we know today.
First produced on television and in various movies dating back to the 1930s — and then most notably reproduced in Walt Disney Pictures’ 1991 animated classic, “Beauty and the Beast” — the tale has seen its fair share of cultural adaptations. Most recently, as a part of Disney’s movement to produce live-action films, the studio came out with another version starring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens in the titular roles. Set on a wondrous adventure that we know all too well, this 2017 edition does not fail to elicit a great response from viewers as well as a hint of possible jealousy.
Director Bill Condon reeled in an all-star cast to fulfill many of the roles of the movies’ ensemble cast, where nearly all of the major roles have equal importance and receive a similar amount of screen time. Among them are Ian McKellen and Luke Evans, whom many know from the “Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” series, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci and Emma Thompson. Some bring out the greatness of the objects they animate within the castle of the Beast, while others fantastically let their singing chops do most of the talking. Condon looked to have a few important musical numbers incorporated into the story, but steered away from making the film an entire musical.
It’s hard to compare this remake to the 1991 animated film, considering the vast technological improvements that have been made in the motion picture industry since then. Both should be acclaimed for their own achievements, but this Disney production deserves especially high praise. More often than not, films can get lost in what audiences like to see, but sometimes it’s the job of the filmmaker to show them something they should like, such as a strong musical number. Those are few and far between — and it’s a shame because, frankly, those are what make these types of fairy tales so great. If you do go see “Beauty and the Beast,” do not worry, the songs you know so well sound just as lovely as they did many years ago.
Disney’s previous live-action film “The Jungle Book” received rave reviews from The Maine Campus last year — and their streak continues into 2017. “Beauty and the Beast” brings great childhood tales into the modern era with it’s unmatched realism and elicited beauty. Behind an established cast, Watson and Stevens have been propelled forward for larger roles in the future and the live action genre is looking promising for years to come.