Alternate title: MY OPINIONS, LET ME SHOW YOU THEM.
Okay, full disclosure before we get into this: Beauty and the Beast – both the fairytale in general and the Disney movie in particular – has been my main fandom since I was 14. That’s 11 years, if you’re keeping score. I’ve written fanfiction. I own a collection of novelisations and movie adaptations. (I’m also gearing up to publish my own novelisation, as you’ll know if you’ve been anywhere near this blog before!) I thinned out my collection of Disney merchandise a while back and I still have, like, ten Disney Store Beauty and the Beast mugs. I’m a fan, is what I’m saying. So this is probably not going to be the most accessible reaction to this trailer that you’ll see.
All right, you’ve been warned. Let’s do this.
0:15 – Scratched portrait! Of a child!
As anyone who’s memorised the entire movie and applied maths to it will know (wait, is that not a normal thing to do?), despite the portrait of the prince looking like this in the cartoon…
… subtracting the “ten years we’ve been rusting” bemoaned by Lumiere in ‘Be Our Guest’ from the “until his twenty-first year” from the Prologue leaves you with a prince who was either ten or eleven when he gets cursed, depending on whether you think “his twenty-first year” means his twentieth birthday or his twenty-first. (I think twentieth, thanks for asking.) (Yes, this is really the sort of thing I have opinions about.) I am excited that Disney has finally also done the maths and can’t wait to see what implications his being cursed so young will have for his character, if any.
0:23 – do I see a father stealing a rose?
This is a feature of the fairytale that Disney notably did away with: Beauty’s father steals a rose from the Beast’s garden as a gift for her and the Beast threatens to kill him unless Beauty comes to live with him.
Here he is gettin’ his thief on in 1946:
And in 1987:
In the Disney movie, of course, Belle comes to the castle looking for her father and makes that deal herself. I like that, because it gives the character more agency – something I think the team behind the 1991 movie were quite keen on. I’m really interested to see if they’ve changed it back for this one – or if this is just a shot of Maurice and a rose to call back to that aspect of the original, without it actually affecting the plot.
0:38 – I just like how much it looks like Emma Watson is holding a broom or a wand in some of these shots.
I have to admit to some griping on my part about Emma Watson as Belle, just because she’s so very Hermione to me and I’d have preferred an unknown, but I’m used to the idea now and she does look great in this trailer!
0:45 – and there he is!
Disney kept the design of the Beast under wraps for quite a while. I was disappointed when a few stills got released a week or two ago, because he looked really computer-generated. Not that I was surprised that CGI was involved, obviously, but I don’t think I expected it to be quite as obvious as it is. Some of the older adaptations have done pretty cool things with make-up…
Here’s the Beast/an emotional cat in 1946:
And here he is in 1987, auditioning for a boy band:
And, of course, here’s the 1991 Disney Beast. I chose this screencap because it’s from the same scene as the one from the trailer, but I’ll admit he’s not looking his best here:
I guess I sort of hoped they’d be able to build on the earlier live-action adaptations – like, use really good makeup and then perhaps a touch of CGI to achieve what makeup can’t. Maybe I’m wrong, but, in the trailer, he looks completely computer-generated to me, and I feel like that’s going to make it harder for me to get into the romance. I mean, the 1991 cartoon is proof (to me, anyway!) that you can make a romance work between two cartoon characters. And, despite some fairly clunky acting, the fact that you can see the real eyes of the actors in the live-action adaptations I’ve seen lends at least a little realism to the romance in those. But a romance between Emma Watson and a Beast they drew in afterwards? I feel like that’s not going to work for me. I hope I’m wrong, though!
0:53 – Lumiere and Cogsworth!
I’ve been sold on Cogsworth’s new look ever since the first pictures were released. Lumiere I’m not so sure about – I think maybe because he looks a little too human? Like, he’s a man turned into a candlestick that’s shaped like a man? I mean, I think what was clever about the objects in the cartoon was how the animators made faces out of things that shouldn’t be faces – like Lumiere’s mouth being the split where his candle head met his metal candle-holder jaw.
I feel like just putting a face on a candlestick is cheating.
Ian McKellen as Cogsworth, though? Two thumbs way up from me!
1:07 – ugh, this movie is disgustingly pretty. I’m getting kind of a Phantom of the Opera vibe from all the candles.
Why is Mrs Potts’ face on the side, not using the spout as a nose like in the cartoon…
…but Chip’s nose is still a handle?
RIDDLE ME THIS.
(No, I’m serious, I really care about these things.)(Please send help.)
1:19 – as we already knew from the posters and stills that have been released, there’s still a magic rose in a glass case. So even if the Beast is going to demand daughters in restitution for the rose Maurice might be going to steal, there’s obviously still a special one:
1:20 – For some reason, I’m really into Luke Evans as Gaston. My early prediction is that he completely steals the movie.
1:23 – Okay, this is new – at least to Disney. Here’s Belle, the Beast and a horse. This was hard to screencap from the trailer but, basically, Belle guides the Beast’s hand onto a horse and then he looks at her with EMOTION in his eyes.
I do not know what is happening here, but I was vividly reminded of Robin McKinley’s Beauty, where Beauty has her horse overcome his fear of the Beast and the Beast overcome his fear of the horse being afraid to make this nice moment happen:
The last step brought us to the bench; and with a gesture half of resignation and half of despair, Greatheart dropped his head till his muzzle touched the Beast’s knee. ‘Merciful God,’ murmured the Beast. Greatheart’s ears shot forwards at the sound of his voice, but he didn’t move.
‘I was fond of horses, once,’ said the Beast; and his words had a distant sound, as if they echoed down a cold corridor of centuries.
And, indeed, of Mercedes Lackey’s The Fire Rose, where Rose (the Beauty) makes basically the same thing happen between Jason (the Beast) and his horse:
Jason ran too, dropping Rose’s hand to sprint to the fence, where he met the horse, caught either side of the halter in his hands, and pulled Sunset’s head down to his chest. The stallion made little rumbling sounds that Rose assumed were noises of happiness and contentment, as Jason rubbed and scratched his head, ears and neck.
Then he turned to her with tears literally standing in his eyes.
“How can I ever thank you?” he asked. “You’ve given me back something I thought I would never have again”
Apparently Beastly HORSEFEELS are A Thing? Does this have roots in some version of the fairytale I’m not familiar with? Because I’m familiar with so many that I’m going to feel pretty stupid if I find out that it does.
1:26 – Belle’s near-tears expression in the library speaks for all of us, I think.
1:45 – the rapid cuts and my slightly fractious relationship with the Windows snipping tool make it hard to make much out of the last few seconds of the trailer but, uh, here’s the Beast and Gaston squabbling over a stick?
1:47 – The ballroom scene looks just beautiful – which is a relief, since it’s such a huge focal point for the movie.
And there you have it!
Overall… I’m excited. I really wasn’t, at first – I went through a lot of “THEY’RE GOING TO RUIN MY FAVOURITE THING!” panics when this was first announced, even while grudgingly admitting that yes, OF COURSE I’m going to see it the SECOND it comes out. The stills and the teaser trailer certainly looked pretty, but it was impossible to make any guesses about the characters or any changes Disney might have made. Now that I’ve seen this, I’m just really looking forward to watching it. My guess is that I’ll love some of the changes they’ve made to the original and hate others – but, I mean, I’ll still have the original. I’ll just have this as well.
That’s all for now. My inner Disney/fairytales geek needs a stiff drink and a lie-down!
Screencaps from the 1991 Disney cartoon from here.
Screencaps from the trailer for the new Disney version taken from YouTube.