Whoa. I didn’t even realize Christophe Gans was working on this one.
“Beauty and the Beast” is one of those irresistible targets for filmmakers, and I would think for French filmmakers, there is a whole different level of expectation attached to anyone who tackles the material. After all, “La Belle et la Bete,” the 1946 film by Jean Cocteau, is one of the classic texts of French cinema, and one of the great fantasy films of all time. Jean Marais gave one of the great film performances as the Beast, and the design of the Beast is both memorable and striking.
Over the years, we’ve seen many takes on the story, and in America, the one that is most defining was made by Disney in 1991. That was more than just a hit for them. If you didn’t see the film during that initial theatrical run, you might not understand just what a phenomenon it was. People reacted like they were at a live performance, and it made perfect sense that the film ended up nominated for Best Picture that year. It’s still one of the biggest cultural hits they’ve ever had, and it continues to be an enormously popular catalog title for them.
For the last few years, we’ve heard rumors about Guillermo Del Toro taking the helm of a new version, possibly with Emma Watson as Belle. If he does end up making the film, I’m sure he’d bring his particular sensibility to the material. For now, though, I’m really curious to see what Gans has done with it. I love “Brotherhood Of The Wolf,” and I am always rooting for Gans to make a great movie. Casting Vincent Cassel as the Beast seems like a great move, and Lea Seydoux is certainly more than qualified to play Beauty.
The one sheet for the film showed up today (thanks to The Playlist for spotting it), and it certainly gives us a glimpse of both of the title characters.
The big question, of course, is what sort of new perspective you can bring to a story that is one of the most familiar in popular culture. That goes deeper than make-up or design, and I’m curious to lay eyes on this one as soon as possible. No word when it’s set for a US release or even who might end up distributing it here.
“La Belle & La Bete” will be in French theaters on February 12, 2014.