We’ve finally gotten our first good look at Disney’s new live-action Beauty and the Beast, with a slew of images having been released for us to enjoy. It’s fair to say that visually, at least, Emma Watson has filled the role of Belle perfectly, looking radiant in her traditional yellow gown. Excitement for the movie was already high, but the release of these images from EW enhanced that further still. As well as a look at Belle, the photos, and in particular the EW magazine cover, gave us our first look at Dan Steven’s Beast. The images have now been released in high-res, making that Disney magic sparkle that much brighter.
The high-res images do give a better look at many things; the detailing on Watson’s gown, for one, which is sure to become a much sought after outfit for kids once the film is released. Like Lily James’ ballgown from the live-action Cinderella, it really is the outfit of dreams for many aspiring Princesses and the detail on it is exquisite. Another image much improved is the shot of Lumiere, Cogsworth, Mrs. Potts, and Plumette. Cogsworth looks just as pompous and fed up as he does in the animated version, and it’ll be fun to hear Ian McKellen in action as the voice of the enchanted clock. Mrs. Potts looks smaller than her animated counterpart, but that only really means she’s to scale with the other objects, while Plumette receives a more substantial role this time around rather than just the flirty feather duster that likes to tease Lumiere. Plumette will be voiced by Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Free State of Jones), while Lumiere comes to life courtesy of Ewan McGregor.
The images also showcased Belle with her dad, Maurice (played by Kevin Kline), and Watson expanded a little on her character’s backstory, which has altered from the animated classic. While in the original Beauty and the Beast, Belle’s dad is the inventor, this time around he’s a music box maker, and Belle is the inventor; a true feminist slant for the actress who is renowned for her powerful speeches on the subject. If one looks closely at the picture of them (see the gallery below), it becomes apparent that many of Maurice’s music boxes are displayed.
Stevens will play his role partly in human form and partly as a CGI Beast; looking similar to the animated version in stature, but noticeably missing the two snaggle teeth the original Beast has, that were added to make him seem less scary to younger viewers. However, this Beast doesn’t look scary either; possibly because while the Beast is CGI, he is based on Steven’s moves and facial expressions.
Talking to EW, Stevens revealed that his Beast scenes were shot in two parts; firstly he acted out the bodily movements on the film’s sets, using stilts to enhance his height. Stevens wore a lycra body suit with tracking markers which then enabled animators to make the CGI form of the Beast’s body and limbs. After that, Stevens repeated all the scenes shot from the face up by a bank of cameras, with the footage then used to create the Beast’s face; a new process called Direct Drive. Stevens sums it all up thusly:
“Essentially, you go from these incredibly lavish, amazing, tangible practical sets on these stages at Shepperton [Studios] — and everything’s looking gorgeous and there’s me looking like a crash-test hippo on stilts — and you’ve got to do all that again, but you’re now essentially in Tron. I’m sat wearing a black t-shirt in a sort-of UV booth with 27 cameras. The whole thing felt very very magical in a way. It just felt like pure magic how they fused these two experiences together.”
This cutting edge process might not be all that glamorous, but it certainly works well. The finished Beast has a humanized quality to him that reminds us (and Belle) that there is a true prince inside, waiting for the spell to be broken.