The final U.S. trailer for Disney‘s live-action Beauty and the Beast is easily the best one yet. Featuring Ariana Grande and John Legend’s version of the title track, it feels like a montage of the film’s first two acts, as though a bunch of actors with lots of time and cash made a faithful homage to the original 1991 movie. It’s like seeing the cartoon, exactly how we know it, come to life before our eyes, but with the added energy of real people to connect with viewers on a different level. And we have to say, it is this clear dedication to recreating the animated version that will be responsible for the movie being a big success… or a massive failure.
The previous teasers and trailers have pointed towards this live-adaptation being a pretty faithful remake, but if there was any doubt left about its willingness to deviate, this trailer has put that to rest. These side-by-side comparisons make it clear that even if this isn’t an exact shot-for-shot remake (like that strange Vince Vaughn version of Psycho), it is at the very least a scene-for-scene one.
These kinds of similarities are why this trailer feels so much better than the previous, somewhat disappointing ones. Shots like these feel “right” in a way the others didn’t. It helps that it sounds right too, since the music of the original is a huge part of what makes it so memorable. The “tale as old as time” that we love so much is here, as we know it, starting with Belle leaving her home in her little town, bringing us to the ballroom where she dons her iconic yellow gown, and ending with the angry villagers on the march to the castle. We know this story. We love this story. This looks and sounds like the story we want.
But with that direction comes a risk. Unlike what Disney did with their hugely popular live-action Jungle Book that came out last year (which wasn’t tied to the original as closely as this Beauty and the Beast seems to be), there will be a very fine line between “triumphant tribute” and “trite disappointment.”
There’s a reason the 1991 film was the first animated film to ever be nominated for Best Picture (and back when only five movies were named, unlike today’s much bigger field). It was stunning, touching, and beautiful in every way, a classic love story with fantastic elements, executed to perfection. By Disney’s choice to make this live-action version exactly like the original (or at least as close as possible), it is not only asking for comparison, but is implicitly telling us that it can pull off what made the first so special.
A Beauty and the Beast this faithful will need to capture the wonder of its predecessor–every single element that made the animated movie what it is–to be considered a success; coming up short in any way will hurt the new film more than usual. Even if a scene or performance is good, if it isn’t as good it will feel worse than it is.
I’ve already had problems accepting that Emma Watson doesn’t look like the Belle I know (“she’s too short”), and I still can’t get over how much smaller Dan Stevens Beast is compared to the giant, hunchbacked one I’ve always known (“his shoulders are way too small”). That might not be fair, but that’s inevitably going to happen when you endeavor a carbon copy remake.
And here’s the kicker: If the movie falls flat, a major criticism will be that it wasn’t allowed to be its own thing and to exist on its own terms, that it was beholden to an impossible standard it could never have hoped to reach. It will feel trite, uninspired, and even insulting for existing. The odds any of those things will be completely true are slim, but that’s how it will feel in comparison.
Of course, those are the same reasons it could be a massive success. There are tons of inherent risks in doing it this way, but the payoff can be tremendous. If the movie truly captures what made the original special it will be a complete triumph. We know how good this movie can be because we’ve seen it and loved it already, and to give viewers that experience again will not only bring a wave of the best kind of nostalgia, it will offer a whole new way to appreciate something we love.
The movie won’t suffer in comparison, it will rise in stature for being its equal.
If this film is great, suddenly the height of Belle and the size of Beast won’t matter at all–in fact it will feel like they never mattered–when they take to the dance floor together. The music will swell, the power of the story will take over, and we’ll be blissfully lost in the moment of it all.
Disney has decided to give us a new movie we already love, scene-by-scene. Whether the new Beauty and the Beast ends up being something ugly or something beautiful will be for that very same reason.
What do you think? Does this look like it is too similar to the original, or is that what you want to see? Dance with us in the comments below and share your thoughts on the new version of the tale as old as time.