Disney’s live-action remakes are built on nostalgia, and as the brand takes off, it’s finally moving on from the classics to the 90’s renaissance. Affection for that decade has been simmering for years, and any person who grew up back then will reminisce about the slew of great Disney movies that made them sing, cry, and pretend every rug was a magic carpet. For its first remake of the era, Disney could hardly have picked a safer bet than 1991’s Beauty and the Beast.
No, that’s not because of its beloved status among a generation of bookish feminists; it’s safe because it’s one of the best films Disney has ever made. It fully developed both its male and female characters, challenged both of their expectations for life, and fully invested all the side characters in the main duo’s outcome. In other words, it did what any excellent movie does narratively and then added Disney’s stunning animation (enhanced by early CGI) and stirring musical numbers.
It’s no wonder the film was lauded upon its initial release, earning a standing ovation at the New York Film Festival and becoming the first ever animated Best Picture nominee at the Academy Awards (only Up and Toy Story 3 have joined it). With such a great film as a blueprint, the live-action version doesn’t need to risk changing the heroine to a warrior or flipping the focus to a more dynamic villain. It can stay true to the original and squarely hit the nostalgia button on audience’s hearts.
The first trailer for Beauty and the Beast indicates that it’s aiming for just that, enhancing iconic scenes with modern production values while making only minor tweaks to update its gender politics. The film won’t be able to completely avoid the inferences about abusive relationships that plague the original, but there’s plenty of more positive messages that the story offers, including the importance of developing intimate relationships and self-worth based on personality instead of looks, that will please returning fans.
The casting of Emma Watson, who is arguably the most prominent bookish feminist of the right age to play Belle, was the first sign that this project was headed towards a faithful and loving remake. The trailer confirms that route, and considering the original’s staggering success, there’s little more audiences could ask of it.
Beauty and the Beast is directed by Bill Condon and stars Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, and Luke Evans. It will be released in the U.S. and the U.K. on March 17th, 2017. For international release dates, click here.
Do you think the live-action remake will live up to the original? Would you prefer that there was no remake at all? Let us know in the comments!
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