Gearing up to Disney’s anticipated live-action retelling of their celebrated 1991 animated classic Beauty and the Beast, there is more than enough to look forward to. The film’s trailer showcases some enchanting cinematography encapsulating Disney’s unique brand of fairy tale magic; there’s the Oscar-winning soundtrack, now translated into live-action musical numbers; and the casting, already viewed as satisfyingly spot-on for many with a childhood attachment to these characters.
Due to Disney’s recent success with live-action adaptations from their animated catalog, and the buzz already surrounding this feature, the studio does not need much to encourage audience interest between now and the movie’s 2017 release. Sprinkling a choice selection of gorgeous film shots to tease the cast, sets and costumes is sure to do the trick, and the latest released image does just that for the feature’s villain: Belle’s macho unwanted admirer, Gaston.
Beauty and the Beast is perhaps one of Disney’s most beloved and successful animated features, especially from its era. The studio incorporated their beneficial collaboration with composers Alan Menken and Howard Ashman and continued with their new formula of a more relatable, stronger willed princess and applied this to their classic fairy tale criteria. This mixture of tradition and modernity is now present for the live action adaptation; the film will respectfully homage the original whilst updating the format and evolving the central characters to gently acknowledge the current era. Harry Potter alum and gender equality ambassador Emma Watson is the Belle of the ball as the lead alongside Dan Stevens (Downton Abby) as the Beast and Luke Evans (The Hobbit) as Gaston. They are joined by Ewan McGregor (Lumiere), Ian McKellen (Cogsworth), Emma Thompson (Mrs. Potts) and Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Plumette).
This new image (revealed exclusively by Empire) unveils a pompously bouffant Evans as Gaston, clearly engaged in his quest to woo Belle in a street scene fans will recognize from the beginning of the animated version.
Gaston as a villain was one of Disney’s more humorous variety, which worked well as a contrast to the more complex arc of the Beast’s characterization and its difference to the standard Disney Prince fare. Speaking to Empire, Evans suggests that his rendition will instead focus more on the sinister elements of the character:
“He gets as dark as any Disney character could possibly get…. This is a man who, for the first time in his life, hasn’t got what he wanted.”
Although evolving Gaston into a more credible villain will increase the threat and drama levels for the re-imagined movie, it would be a shame to lose the element of humour entirely. Hopefully, a balance will be found that allows Evans to bring his Broadway background to the big screen in terms of both his singing talent and the theatrical potential that Gaston has. This, like the musical elements of the movie, is possibly something that will be kept under wraps to aid our suspense for the film’s release. We will have to wait and see.