The story and characters audiences know and love come to spectacular life in Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” a live-action adaptation of the studio’s animated classic featuring an extraordinary ensemble cast, including: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Kevin Kline, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Audra McDonald, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Hattie Morahan and Nathan Mack with Ian McKellen and Emma Thompson.
Directed by Bill Condon and based on the 1991 animated film “Beauty and the Beast,” the screenplay is written by Stephen Chbosky and Evan Spiliotopoulos. Alan Menken provides the score, which includes new recordings of the original songs written by Menken and Howard Ashman as well as three new songs written by Menken and Tim Rice. The film is produced by Mandeville Films’ David Hoberman, p.g.a. and Todd Lieberman, p.g.a with Jeffrey Silver, Thomas Schumacher and Don Hahn serving as executive producers.
Once upon a time there was a dashing young Prince (Dan Stevens) who lived in a magnificent castle. He hosted extravagant parties attended by beautiful debutantes from around the world and was pampered by a staff of servants who tended to his every whim, but the Prince had become insolent and self-absorbed. When an old beggar woman appears at the castle seeking shelter from the storm and offers him a single rose in return, he callously turns her away, unaware that she is, in fact, a beautiful enchantress (Hattie Morahan). To punish him for his cruelty, she places a curse on the castle, transforming him into a Beast and all its inhabitants into household objects. To reverse the spell, he must learn to love another and be worthy of their love in return before the last petal of an enchanted rose falls…otherwise, he will remain a beast and his staff their inanimate forms, imprisoned in the castle for all eternity.
Some years later in the small town of Villeneuve, Belle (Emma Watson), a bright and spirited young woman, goes about her daily chores, pondering the monotony of her provincial life. Fiercely independent and preferring to keep to herself for the most part, Belle lives with her father, Maurice (Kevin Kline), a reclusive artist, and is an avid reader who dreams of adventure and romance in a world far beyond the confines of her French village. The town’s residents, however, are unsure what to think of her, for as virtuous and kind as she is beautiful, Belle remains a complete enigma. She rejects the relentless advances of the arrogant and boorish rogue, Gaston (Luke Evans), who holds court in a country inn with his sidekick LeFou (Josh Gad) and has every eligible woman in town wrapped around his finger. Gaston is smitten with Belle, but she is strong-willed and remains impervious to his charms.
When Maurice sets off for the market and is attacked by wolves, becoming lost in the woods, he stumbles upon the Beast’s castle, now darkened and iced over, where he takes refuge. But the Beast is
enraged to find him trespassing and takes him prisoner. Belle learns of her father’s disappearance and sets off in search of him, coming face to face with the Beast, with whom she pleads for his release, eventually trading her own freedom for her father’s. While locked away in a tower of the ominous castle, Belle hears friendly voices – those of the enchanted household objects, who can now speak as a result of the spell. She is introduced to the former members of the castle’s staff, including: Lumière (Ewan McGregor), a candelabra; Cogsworth (Ian McKellen), a mantel clock; Mrs. Potts (Emma Thompson), a teapot; Madame de Garderobe (Audra McDonald), a wardrobe; Plumette (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), a feather duster; and Maestro Cadenza (Stanley Tucci), a harpsichord. Hopeful that Belle may finally be the one to capture the heart of the Beast, they watch and wait for any signs of true love, but the Beast is surly and ill-mannered and has come to accept his fate.
Given their conflicted relationship, rife with animosity and resentment, romance appears out of the question, but Belle has a loving nature and the ability to see what other people cannot and begins to sense the kind heart of the Prince within. The Beast can be generous, sharing his library with her, and chivalrous, placing his life in danger to protect her, and he makes her laugh. Belle is courageous, fearlessly standing up for herself, and compassionate, nursing the Beast’s wounds when he is injured on her behalf. Together, they enjoy reading and discussing works of literature…she inspires him to become a better person, and he slowly begins to come back to life.
The classic tale of “Beauty and the Beast” – and its empowering message that true beauty comes from within – dates back to 18th century France and the first published version of the fairy tale, “La Belle et la Bête,” by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve. Today, the themes are still just as relevant and the story continues to enthrall storytellers, resulting in countless interpretations across all forms of media, but it is Disney’s Oscar®-nominated animated film from 1991 which has been the definitive version.
One of the studio’s most treasured titles, “Beauty and the Beast” was released during Disney’s second golden age of animation, along with “The Little Mermaid,” “The Lion King” and “Aladdin,” among others, and was immediately hailed as a cinematic masterpiece. As spellbindingly romantic as it is comedic, “Beauty and the Beast” is an unforgettable tale of love and friendship that transports readers to a magical fairy tale world where good triumphs over evil.
Showing in Cinemas March 16,2017.