Once upon a time, in a faraway land, the memory of nostalgia lived in a shining castle of our minds. Although it had everything it’s memory desired, the nostalgia was spoiled, selfish, and clouded. But then, one winter’s night, an old blogger man came to the castle and offered the nostalgic memory a single bit of truth in return for shelter from the bitter internet who loved or hated everything. Repulsed by his blunt honesty, the nostalgia sneered at the truth and turned the old man away.
Okay, so that’s a bit on the nose, I admit. But am I really the only one who thought this weeks trailer for the live-action Beauty and the Beast was, well, kind of bad?
I am?! Cool. This should be fun.
Let me start off by saying that the original Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorites. Ron Perlman AND Linda Hamilton? I loved watching that show. I also think the 1991 film version by Disney is amongst their best animated works ever. So how could I ever dislike the live-action trailer that’s a shot-for-shot remake of the animated version?
The answer is in the question. There’s nothing new, nothing exciting, nothing that isn’t achingly familiar.
I understand what this live-action stuff is about, but can’t we interpret it creatively? Besides changing the designs to inferior looking versions (looking at you Beast horns and Lumiere), this trailer just looks like a traced version of the animated version. I’m a big fan of the warmth of nostalgia, but I’m also aware of the dangers it brings. Midnight In Paris is possibly the best example of this. Woody Allen conveys that people are always wanting to go back to a certain time that’s not their own. When they are able to magically go back in time to that era, the people from that era want to go to another time they believe to be the greatest. It’s hard to make the best of the here and now, but it’s vital that we do. And furthermore, we need to be creative. Create new things, yes, even within the realms of a remake. Look to John Carpenter’s The Thing or even Sam Raimi’s own remake of Evil Dead with Evil Dead II.
Remember when Gus Van Sant made a shot-for-shot remake of Psycho*? A talented director and cast in an interesting experiment, but it falls flat. There’s something off about it. That’s the same feeling I had when watching this Beauty and the Beast trailer.
The property and the chance to bring this film into a “real life” setting is a great opportunity and will make allllll the money I’m sure. But I can’t shake the feeling it lacks any original inspiration. The cheesy CG that may not be fully rendered yet (but I would bet those wolves still look like cartoons next March) doesn’t help matters either. It’s exciting to see the production photos and the art direction. Everything we’ve covered has looked great (besides those Beast horns) and I do still look forward to this.
But I’ve learned a lesson about fandom clouding my thoughts.
Instead of going into detail about this I’ll simply just say the “Star Wars Prequels” and leave it at that. I’d also like to point out that this allows me to look at things that I genuinely do enjoy like The Force Awakens, but realize they still have problems. After seeing that one I was cautious about my opinion and it took me seeeing it a few times to decide where I really was on it. The trailers I loved from the beginning, however, they never looked like a shot-for-shot remake of the original films, but embodied that feeling we loved so much. As it turned out, The Force Awakens is as close to a remake of the original Star Wars we’re ever likely to get while also still giving us a bevy of new characters and expands the universe, albeit clumsily.
So to jump back to that opening narration from the animated Beauty and the Beast… “But she warned him not to be deceived by appearances, for beauty is found within. And when he dismissed her again, the old woman’s ugliness melted away to reveal a beautiful enchantress. The prince tried to apologize, but it was too late, for she had seen that there was no love in his heart.” I do have love (and hope!) in my heart that the live-action version surprises me and I can see the beauty found within, but for now the witches warts are pretty obvious.
* In all fairness, it wasn’t a COMPLETE shot-for-shot remake. He did insert things that were different, including an opening shot Hitchcock wanted to do, but technology prevented him from accomplishing. The shot is a complete pan/zoom over the city into Marion’s hotel room that Hitchcock had to use multiple dissolves to achieve a similar look.