Content & Inspiration Credits: Gargi Sharma, Monika Sharma
The ‘Song as Old as Rhyme’ flowed from the screen with a punch of nostalgia and a pinch of reminiscence into the hearts of the viewers, seducing them with the melody that has been ringing throughout the world for a long time. The latest retelling of the famous fairy tale; the movie tries to maintain the charisma and nostalgia that it had planned to ride on through the two hours, barely but successfully achieving it. One obviously can’t help but compare it to the original Broadway version, and sadly it isn’t as enchanting and energetic as the stage version. On a personal note I would choose the live version over the movie every day and twice on Sunday. But contrary to my fears the movie stands out from the shadow of the original animated version making a borrowed but unique space in the minds of the audience.
Tale as Old as Time
The plot can perhaps be accurately described as a slight retelling of the original 1991 Disney animated film. While the animated version was a children-friendly and if I may dare to say, a true Disney brand production; this one has a darker and comparatively ominous feel to it. The movie starts with the curse of enchantress which turns the prince (Dan Stevens) into the Beast. After that is a familiar introduction of the main character Belle (Emma Watson), as she sings and frolics around her hometown, not caring about the townsfolk who think she’s weird. It’s not long before the third primary character i.e. Gaston (Luke Evans) joins the ensemble, vying for Belle’s attention in a vain attempt to win her heart. What follows is a legendary tale with teacups and candelabra singing and dancing around, attempting to make the heroine and the cosmetically-challenged hero fall for each other.
Is it the same story?
Along with the original story which is used in the live musical version, there are some additional parts like story of Belle’s mother, backstory of Beast’s family, and personal involvement of Enchantress. The motive no doubt was to extend the length of the film to a full two hours. Sometimes these fringe plotlines interfere with the main plot but thankfully they are quite small in number and length. Hence the confusion is short-lived and the enjoyment of the sweet and romantic story plentiful. The longer length, on the other hand, allows a more gradual and hence natural-looking love story of Belle and Beast to unfold. The added time has allowed the creators to slowly explore and develop the characters.
Visual Effects & Music
“We aim to please”
The movie is adorned with some unbelievable visual-effects and hordes of melodious music numbers which make the experience uniquely captivating and alluring. In an interview with ITV, Emma Watson confirmed that every shot with the Beast was shot twice: first for the visual effects to be put in the overall scene, and second one just to focus on the facial expressions of Dan Stevens. What it does is make the Beast -especially his face- quite realistic and believable, and the whole experience more enjoyable. Of course, the magic of the special effects is not only limited to the Beast. Inanimate objects like teacups, clocks, and candelabra are beautifully rendered onto the screen to personify the iconic characters of Mrs. Potts, Cogsworth, and Lumiere.
If the special effects put lifelike characters on the screen, the music by Alan Menken brought the screen to life. Honestly when Emma Watson walked in with the iconic yellow Belle-dress and the enticing title score behind her, the five-year old inside me did a backflip. Signature songs like Belle, Gaston, Be our guest, and others make up for a major part of the movie with added chic and dazzle. The singing of Emma Thomson, Luke Evans, and Emma Watson was nothing short of a revelation. Though I and my company was not overly-pleased with the constant songs in the movie, I’m sure the fans of the musical genre would’ve been thrilled.
What does the audience say?
Walking in the wake of The Jungle Book’s success, the live-action version unlike the animated version, follows a darker theme and setup. Of course, not so much as to scare away the pseudo-primary audience i.e. the Under-16 age group (children) but enough to get the 17-25 age bracket and the slightly older ones interested. The play version has already been introduced in Delhi and Mumbai with positive response. The plays surely would’ve added to a positive word-of-mouth effect for the movie, helping to increase the box-office turnup.
‘Beauty as Warm as Sun’
As the last petal on the first week falls we can be quite sure that the movie is sure to garner satisfactory Box-Office result in India and a substantial one globally. With a $160 million budget and current worldwide-earnings at $400 million, there is no doubt that this will be another huge success for Disney studios globally. Whether it’ll be a success in the Indian market depends on two factors.
First is how it performs in the second week. There are quite a few competitors in the second week, with crowd favorite Phillauri (starring Anushka Sharma and Diljit Dosanjh) releasing on March 24. This will possibly hamper the box-office growth. The second is the actual marketing budget that would’ve been put for marketing the movie in the Indian market. I’m sure it would’ve been substantial, judging by the hordes of advertisements and billboards that were put up around strategic locations in India, leading to the release week. Most probably the box-office earnings would dip down in the second week keeping the overall result satisfactory, but not dismal.