Disney has recently been remaking some of their classic movies as live action movies. First, we had Maleficent, which was a remake of Sleeping Beauty from the villain’s perspective. Then there are Cinderella and Jungle Book, which, unlike Maleficent, seem to be more or less pretty straightforward retellings of the animated movies—though I presume Jungle Book had a little more going on since there was very little story in the animated movie. (I haven’t seen it yet.) Then there is Pete’s Dragon, which looks to be a dark retelling of the Disney movie. And now, there is Beauty and the Beast.
I will admit I was excited for Maleficent. I didn’t see it because I was too poor to afford to see movies at the time and just still haven’t bothered to see it. That and I was really really hoping for a queer rewrite with Maleficent and Aurora together, so that disappointment adds to the reason I didn’t see it. But overall, I will say I am utterly uninterested in these remakes.
When Cinderella came out, I remember being annoyed because it didn’t seem like the movie was doing anything different, especially when there are already so many different versions. Jungle Book and Pete’s Dragon take a dark tone, but so far Pete’s Dragon seems to be the only other one that has really been rewritten. So overall, I guess I’m just wondering why I should care? I loved these movies in their animated forms, but am I really going to enjoy them more live action? Other than using nostalgia as a money grab, why is Disney making these movies?
Beauty and the Beast looks like it’ll be more of the same. The teaser trailer admittedly doesn’t give us much, by virtue of the fact that it’s supposed to tease us, but it looks like a straight up retelling of the animated movie. The trailer even gives us the same opening music that immediately takes me back to my childhood. Add in Emma Watson as Belle and suddenly Harry Potter and Beauty and the Beast now combine to make my brain think this movie is literally my childhood in a nutshell. I really do feel like that is what this trailer is going for in a lot of respects. Yeah, in some ways I suppose it is trying to pull in a new audience by recreating a popular film that maybe younger people aren’t as familiar with, but Beauty and the Beast is huge, so that’s hard to believe. In another way, it’s also winking at older viewers like myself and going, “Hey, remember this movie? You loved this movie! So you’ll totally love this live action remake!”
I love Beauty and the Beast, Emma Watson, and movies with strong female leads, but I wish Disney was doing more. People love retellings of fairy tales, myself included, but when you retell a story that everyone knows and loves, you need to do something different while still paying respect to the original. Maleficent, for example, is a classic fairy tale retelling, but by giving us the villain’s perspective, we get to hear a story we know and love from a different side. Retelling Beauty and the Beast is also Disney’s chance to bring in more diversity. Have Beauty and the Beast with a Black cast or Snow White with a queer protagonist. This is Disney’s chance to take those classics and do something different, maybe even something better. That might not necessarily be the safe bet, but it could be great. I suppose it’s neat to see these movies as live action films, but I’d rather see something different and more unique than the same story I already know.