In an industry tormented regularly by lacklustre reboots and appalling sequels, Disney continues to impress with the quality of its live-action remakes.
Artist Maurice is taken prisoner after he wanders into the palace of a beastly creature. To save him, his free-spirited daughter Belle offers to take his place, to which the Beast agrees. There, she befriends the magical staff of the palace, and falls in love with the Beast after looking beyond his fearsome exterior.
Tomes could be written on the many ways to retell a familiar story. One could, for example, adopt a new perspective, or tweak the personalities of the leads. One could also inject new characters, who in-turn give rise to intriguing new sub-plots. Whichever method chosen, surprise is usually the main instrument used to counter the boredom of familiarity. It is still the same story. But in many ways, it becomes a new one.
Beauty and the Beast (2017) uses few of these, opting instead to retell the 1991 version faithfully. Believe it or not, that’s exactly what makes it a joy to watch.
It’s how the movie honours the animated version, you see. The best scenes from 91 are reproduced with a euphoric passion that is immediately infectious. While watching, I found myself increasingly looking forward to the next music set, to the extent I cheered when Be My Guest came on. And no, it wasn’t due to nostalgia, in case you’re wondering. The love and mastery behind these scenes, and just about everything else in the movie, was that irresistible. I was completely lost in the magic that formed the heart of this simple story.
If this is how future Disney live-action remakes are going to be, I greatly look forward to its next project. I shiver in joy at the thought of how wonderful a live-action Aladdin would be.
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