Some context: I’ve seen Disney’s Beauty and the Beast a lot of times. I mean, a lot of times. Not just in the “I was reasonably young when it came out and it was in the culture quite a bit and has remained there” way, or in the “Disney animated features all sort of become part of our common currency” way, or even in the “I spent a good part of the 1990s working in video stores where G-rated movies get a lot of play on the in-store monitors” way, although all of those things are true. No, my familiarity with Beauty and the Beast is rooted in the fact that I have a very young daughter, of the age where the movie-of-the-moment gets watched over and over and over again, and we went through a period recently where Beauty and the Beast (or, as she calls it, Belle and da Beast) was on heavy rotation.
I mention this because the most striking thing about Bill Condon’s upcoming remake, based on the trailers we’ve seen thus far, is its unwavering fidelity to the 1991 animated original. (Or, as Peabo Bryson so memorably put it in the end credits theme, “YEEEEEVAHH JESS THE SAAAAAAAAAAAAME….”) This is not new for Disney’s annual spring Live Action Remake of an Animated Classic (see Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella, The Jungle Book), but as with Jungle Book, it makes the redundancy of the enterprise clearer; with so much computer-generated imagery, it’s barely even accurate to call these films “live action.” They’re just remakes, and by the looks of things, Van Sant Psycho-level remakes.
Don’t believe me? Take a look at the new trailer:
Of course, it’s entirely possible that there will be divergences of note in the film itself and they’re just selling familiarity – that is the name of the game these days, after all. And for what it’s worth, when the aforementioned daughter saw the last trailer, she spent days talking about going to see “New Belle and da Beast.” So, yeah, whatever they’re doing, it’s working.
Beauty and the Beast is out March 17.