In related news, the first trailer for next spring's Beauty and the Beast retelling, courtesy director Christophe Gans, is out.
Interesting! It's an extremely Cocteau/Marais-ish take on the material (appropriately filtered through a Brotherhood of the Wolf aesthetic here and there), but why not go full-homage, I suppose, if you're going there at all. And while trailers can be misleading – let us never forget Dredd's truly abysmal trailer and the gem it was hiding – this seems like a trailer that's trying to show you as much of its take on the tale as possible.
Things I am not here for include: Any big-eyed CGI dogmoppets; the anonymous lushness of a CGI landscape in the mold of the other fairy-tale reboots we've seen in the last few years.
Things I am wary of: How much CGI, exactly, has been layered over Vincent Cassel.
Things I raised my eyebrows about: You're doing a dance scene, too, huh? Well, we'll Disney about that when we get there, I guess.
Things that have gotten cleared up for me: The costumes! I was initially bemused by the fact that Beauty's sisters were clearly stretching out in an only slightly exaggerated version of the first quarter of the 19 th century when Belle was wearing a series of shiny gowns from Historialish Fantasyonia:
But the trailer indicates a sufficient time-warp quality inside the Beast's kingdom that internal logic is still doing perfectly fine having its real-world time period being firmly fixed a few centuries ahead of whatever the fantasy costumes are going for. (Particularly if Belle's costumes are somehow holdovers from the Beast's memories of being human, and his estate is just dressing her in what he likes/knows, because speaking of psychological quagmires: that guy.)
What I'm totally here for: The cast.
A Beauty and the Beast adaptation lives or dies on its leads; no amount of art direction is going to save a pair with poor chemistry, or a movie in which the director or actors have decided on a dynamic that falls flat or skews treacly. Rare is the Beauty and the Beast that fully embraces the inner Angela Carter cynicism of its monstrous promise, but without an edge to the whole affair, you just have a really jovial marital kidnapping.
Just before the trailer came out, Premiere magazine revealed its La Belle et la Bête cover. The first promo I'd seen had been a standard issue intricately-costumed almost-kiss that didn't particularly stand out. The cover was different.
As with many magazine covers, the leading lady's shirt has mysteriously vanished (almost as if the naked female body were inherently viewed as a marketable commodity! Imagine that). And I know based on outtakes that they gave him some dirty animal-claw fingertips, and think it's frankly hilarious that they picked a cover in which you do not see any of that business whatsoever because this magazine does not want you to be worrying about anything untidy on their pages, okay thanks bye. However, Léa Seydoux is the one in control of the frame here, with a very defined predator-prey dynamic that skews in her favor. I paused when I saw it; it suggests something interesting.
Of course, it's utter coincidence if a magazine cover reflects anything in the actual movie.* And it's standard operating procedure for promotional materials to promise something suitably creepy to suggest a fantastic take on the material, and then totally fail to deliver in the actual movie, in which Armie Hammer has to turn in a second-rate version of Tenth Kingdom's dog-in-a-dude's-body bit.
But from the trailer, it's possible that there's still some edge to spare; Léa Seydoux's face is certainly not messing around, that's for sure – there's some real creepiness around the edges. I made this for Tumblr purely out of enchantment with the progression of her face from a similar angle, because the woman in the bottom frame is a Belle I might just like to see.
"But presently she heard the Beast coming, and wondered tremblingly if he meant to eat her…"
* It can happen, though: American Premiere did a shoot before Interview with the Vampire, in which Kirsten Dunst was a little angel of death creeping over Tom Cruise's shoulder, and that dynamic was accurate to the point that I still remember it, and by "remember it" I mean "own it."