In 1991, the release of Disney's Beauty and the Beast saw the movie become an instant classic, and director Bill Condon will be hoping to at least replicate that success with his new live-action version when it arrives next month. Starring Emma Watson as Belle, opposite Dan Stevens as the Beast, and with a supporting cast that includes Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellen, Emma Thompson, and Luke Evans, Beauty and the Beast is easily one of the most anticipated movies of the year, and a lot of fans of the original have great expectations for this version.
So far, trailers and images released for the movie point to Beauty and the Beast staying very close to the original while also adding a fresh take on Belle's backstory, which will be more in keeping with a modern audience's views on feminism and the role of women in today's society. There are also new characters added, and new songs from Alan Menken and Tim Rice, to compliment the original full musical score by Menken and Howard Ashman. While delivering a fresh take on the original, many classic Beauty and the Beast moments have been recreated almost perfectly, such as the iconic ballroom scene.
In new images released via EW, Belle and the Beast can be seen at the top of the grand ballroom staircase, looking exactly the same as their animated counterparts. Take a look at the rest of EW's new images from the film in our gallery, below.
[vn_gallery name="Beauty and the Beast – EW Character Images" id="903729"]
The other images detail various scenes from the movie, including Belle talking with the enchanted household staff, Lumiere and Cogsworth. Belle can also be seen riding her horse, Phillipe, through the snowy woods, something Watson says she had to have lessons in, along with acting and singing. The actress also offers her own insight on the relationship Belle and the Beast share, as their feelings of anger and hatred slowly turn to love:
"Beast and Belle find their common ground because they both feel really lonely. They both feel like outsiders in their own world. Belle is trapped in her surroundings, in her village, and Beast is trapped in this castle. There’s this sort of strange mirroring."
That mirroring comes to the fore when the pair take to the dance floor and realize that they now love and understand each other, but they need to admit their feelings before the last petal on the enchanted rose falls. On the flip side, Belle has little to no time at all for Gaston, whom Evans portrays as every bit as boorish and arrogant as the animated original. Watson says he's a narcissist, and that gives way to a villain whom we all love to hate:
"Gaston is someone who has had nothing but love and admiration and easiness and because he’s never suffered he doesn’t have any empathy. He’s essentially a narcissist... With Beast, you can tell he’s being unkind because he’s unkind to himself."
As for the role of Belle, Watson has continually said how lucky she feels to be playing such an iconic role, especially since Belle was her favorite Disney Princess growing up. She also adds that she feels honored to have now played two of her childhood heroes, Hermione Granger in Harry Potter and now Belle. Condon praises Watson's approach to the role, stating that he feels she embodies all of Belle's character traits:
“From what I’d already seen of Emma, she seemed to be the person both onscreen and off, who best reflected the qualities that Belle embodied. There’s no question Emma has a better sense of where feminism stands right now and what’s relevant with regard to women's issues than I ever will."
So how will this new, feminist Belle, fit into the small village with their narrow outlook on life? That remains to be seen, and luckily we don't have too long to find out. From the look of these images, Disney have gone all out to deliver a lavish, over the top production that could well create the perfect live-action version of a beloved animated classic.
- Beauty and the Beast (2017) release date: Mar 17, 2017