With record-shattering views on the trailers to the buzz that’s going around during its continuing press tour, Disney’s live action remake of “Beauty and the Beast” is quickly reaching critical “hype” levels. But like anything else, the question really is “Why?”
It’s a valid claim to make, but one with many answers according to the producer of the original animated film of the same name, Don Hahn. “It’s pretty flattering when somebody wants to revisit your original material,” he said to us in an interview. “It validates that the original film was worth something.”
That worth he’s talking about is mainly in everything that made “Beauty and the Beast” a film phenomenon back in 1991, earning the film an Oscar for Best Picture (the only animated film to have ever received a nod for The Academy’s top prize). From the plot to the music and characters that gave it life, it all resonated with a broad range of people.
“All of what made our film special was arguably what attracted so many people like Bill Condon (director), Emma Watson (Belle), and others to take part,” Hahn said.
The difficulty, however, in retelling a story that means so much to people is exactly that – affecting the people who loved the film from the beginning. “You can really screw this up,” said Hahn. “But that’s not what they did with this new retelling.”
That retelling (without going into spoilers) is a careful balance between what’s familiar and what’s not. Hahn continued, “You’ll get classic moments, especially with the music, but you’ll also see some of the risks in adding to the original story that I think pay off well.”
Much of those risks came in the form of what Hahn and the other original animators and storytellers wished they could have added to the 1991 film. “We simply didn’t have time or the resources to pack it all in. We were competing with our passions.” As it has been publicly divulged, the 2017 film will go into the deeper backstories of Belle, Maurice, Maurice’s wife, and the Beast. “These mini-stories acted as supplements because Condon and his team really believed that our story didn’t need to be significantly altered.” That should come as a relief to many fans who aren’t too inclined to see the new film.
Hahn argues that fans of the original film shouldn’t be worried about these additions because they are only subplots that align very well with the whole theme of the movie: don’t judge a book by its cover and that if we do, we can make up for that mistake.
After 25 years since the original film’s debut, that’s avoidance of pre-judgement is something that Hahn and the original filmmaking team had to do when watching the live-action version for the first time. When they left the theater, it left them with a renewed love for the ‘tale as old as time’.
“I think it’s only human to look at something you original created with curiosity,” he said. “There were of course times where questioned if things would work, but when you put your ego aside, you think differently and in our case, positively.”
Our special thanks to Don Hahn for taking the time to chat with us for this story!