10 things you should know before watching "Beauty and the Beast"
Writer: Casey Lee
Be our guest for "Beauty and the Beast".
When Belle's father is taken prisoner by a strange talking beast that lives in an enchanted castle, she exchanges herself to live with the beast where they will learn the meaning of love.
With the success of the live adaptation of Disney renaissance classics so far, 2017 sees a new Disney princess interred into its live treatment with its most prolific to date.
There may be many expectations for those who had watched the 1991 Best Picture nominee, but times have changed and this live adaptation is due for a few new revisions. But of course, there are elements to retain this tale as old as time, so here are 10 things that we know about the new "Beauty and the Beast" that have and haven't changed.
Disney almost didn't make this a musical
Before Disney embarked on making "Beauty and the Beast" the fourth live adaptation of its animated classics, there were already plans to adapt the Broadway version of "Beauty and the Beast" from 1994. That Broadway adaptation was eventually scrapped in 2011 before Disney announced its plans for a full live action adaptation, mirroring what it had done with "Maleficent", "Cinderella", and "The Jungle Book". However, when Disney brought in "Chicago" and "Dreamgirls" director Bill Condon, Disney was still unsure if they wanted this adaptation to be a musical, which Condon respectfully disagreed, saying: "With all due respect, I think you're crazy. The songs are too good. You're going to spend all this time making a huge, gorgeous live action "Beauty and the Beast" and not do 'Be Our Guest'?"
New lyrics that were cut from the 1991 animation
Thanks to director Bill Condon who insisted that the live adaptation should remain as a musical, this meant that all the timeless songs in the animated feature would be performed by a live cast. Although Alan Menken returns to put some new musical touches to the new songs, it would not be a complete reiteration of the songs that we could probably sing from memory. This live adaptation will feature some new lyrics that were originally written by the late Howard Ashman, but were cut from the 1991 animation because some of them were too suggestive for a less matured audience. Also something new that has been done to the songs is that they will be sung by Ariana Grande and John Legend, but Celine Dion would still be lending her voice to a few of the new songs written by Tim Rice.
A beauty but also a funny girl
Emma Watson was bound to play as the titular beauty, but it was not for Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" at one point. Emma was expected to lead in a different adaptation of "Beauty and the Beast" for Warner Bros. that had director Guillermo del Toro attached, but that project eventually stalled and del Toro left shortly after Disney announced its plans. Coincidentally, Disney had first offered the role of "Cinderella" to Emma before, but when they offered her the role for Belle, her inner six year old couldn't refuse.
Ewan McGregor's French accent
Ewan McGregor who voices as Lumiere in the live adaptation had a hard time to put on a French accent. He felt that all of his attempts to sound French came off sounding more like Mexican. As a result, he had to take lessons from Eve Mavrakis, his French wife. Even after all that though, McGregor, by his own admission, was still not convinced that he was able to pull off the French accent for the show. Perhaps things would have been different if Disney had gone to Jean Durjadin instead who was considered for the role of Lumiere.
Ian McKellen was offered the role of Cogsworth before
It may seem fitting to have Ian McKellen to voice and play the role of Cogsworth, but this is actually the second time that he has been offered the role. McKellen was first offered to voice Cogsworth in the 1991 animation but turned it down, and so the role eventually went to David Ogden Stiers.
The Perks of being a Wallflower
The initial script was written by Evan Spiliotopoulos but was later rewritten by Stephen Chbosky. Chbosky is better known as the writer and director of "The Perks of being a Wallflower" which starred Emma Watson, who brought Chbosky in for this adaptation.
The Disney songs the actors had to actually sing for audition
To star in a musical classic as "The Beauty and the Beast", needless to say that having the musical talent to perform the songs that would be in it was necessary. While the actors had to perform a Disney song during their audition, it was not quite the song that you would imagine. Instead of singing any of the songs from the original "Beauty and the Beast", the actors were asked to sing "Hakuna Matata" from "The Lion King" instead because it tested the entire range of the performer to be able to sing any of the songs from "Beauty and the Beast".
Reasoning behind introducing a gay character
Breaking ground as the first hand-drawn animation to be nominated for the Best Picture back in 1992, the live adaptation of "Beauty and the Beast" would also be breaking new grounds. Le Fou, played by Josh Gad, has been confirmed by director Bill Condon to be the first Disney gay character and will have a scene to resolve his affection for Gaston. The decision to have a gay character here is also partly as an homage to the late lyricist Howard Ashman, who was gay and wrote the songs in 1991's "Beauty and the Beast".
Someone else was supposed to play the Beast
To play as the Beast, many actors were considered, ranging from Robert Pattinson to even Josh Brolin at one point. One of those actors was actually Ryan Gosling, who refused the role to take the lead in Damien Chazelle's "La La Land". Coincidentally, Emma Watson was approached to be the lead for "La La Land", but turned that role down in order to be in "Beauty and the Beast".
Belle's character revamp
Belle has never been a conventional Disney princess, but rather as someone who finds love on her own terms. Inquisitive, smart and able to stand for herself from what society expects of her. To give the right image of her independence, Belle will be given some changes to her wardrobe. Rather than being the daughter of an inventor, this version of "Beauty and the Beast" will have her be the inventor herself who switches her docile flats for work boots, and instead of wearing an apron, she will have cloth bags to carry her tools.
Cinema Online, 12 March 2017
Catch the tale as old as time, "Beauty and the Beast", in cinemas this 16 March 2017.