Warning: Contains many, many spoilers.
The new, live-action Beauty and the Beast film is just around the corner. (March 17, but who's counting?) We were so, so curious to find out just how it would compare to the beloved original. Would the actors meet our high expectations? Would the plot be the same? Would the actors' singing be up to scratch? And, most importantly, would we love it as much as the 1991 animated Disney film?
Luckily, we do. We took ourselves to an advance screening and prepared a guide to all the biggest differences between this year's Beauty and the Beast and the original. It turns out there were quite a few, and some of them were a huge surprise. Below, find out what has changed. (But seriously, SPOILERS!)
1. The new film is much longer.
Count yourself in for 2 hours and 9 minutes of the new Beauty and the Beast. This makes it almost an hour longer than the original, which clocks in at 1 hour and 24 minutes.
2. There are a lot of new songs.
It might seem like sacrilege to some and pure progress to others, but the live-action Beauty and the Beast contains several new songs. Garderobe (Audra McDonald) has an incredible solo right at the beginning of the movie, which we hear as we're introduced to the selfish, disdainful Prince.
Céline Dion made waves when she announced she'd be singing an all-new, original song for the remake. Called "How Does a Moment Last Forever," it comes in several times over the course of the film. Belle's father, Maurice (Kevin Kline), has a heartbreaking segment, which he performs while he's painstakingly working on a tiny diorama of his family. Belle then takes it up later in the film-and the Dion rendition plays as the credits roll.
"Days in the Sun," which composer Alan Menken has previously talked about, is sung by the staff as they go to sleep and remember their past, human lives-a tearjerker if ever there was one. And the pièce de résistance: the Beast's song, "Evermore," which the Beast sings after he lets Belle go free.
3. It's live action, not animated.
You already knew this, and it might seem like an obvious one, but it makes a difference in unexpected ways. Of course, the new format means we get to see Emma Watson as Belle, and the Beast transform into a real human being played by Dan Stevens; a lot of the sets look different. But the live action changes the feel of other scenes, too-Gaston's hunt for the Beast feels much more dangerous and charged than it did in cartoon form, and the town scenes are absolutely buzzing thanks to all the bustling people.
4. We meet the Prince before he turns into the Beast.
In the original, the story about the curse laid on the Prince is illustrated in a series of stained-glass windows-then we see the Beast, already transformed into the creature Belle meets. But in the new version we meet the Prince preparing for a party in royal style: having his face made up, complete with beauty spot; clad in gorgeous, bejeweled finery; and lounging in a throne, looking on as beautiful women dance for him.
One other surprising element of the Prince's past is that we learn his mother died when he was young. In a flashback, we also see the Prince as a boy standing at his ailing mother's bedside.
5. Sorry, but Belle doesn't read to any sheep in this version.
It's disappointing, I know.
6. Maurice is an artist, not an inventor.
In his animated incarnation, Belle's beloved father is a creative genius whose pride and glory is a wacky woodchopping machine. But this time around, he's an painter. His beautiful paintings-all of his late wife and his daughter-hang on the walls. Yes, he fixes things, but it's clear he has the soul of an artist.
So, when he leaves home at the beginning of the movie, instead of heading off to the fair to enter his outrageous wood-chopping contraption in a competition, Maurice embarks on his yearly trip to the market. Which actually makes a little bit less sense when he gets lost on the way, since he's presumably taken the correct route many times before.
7. Gaston has more of a backstory, too.
The Gaston we know and love is just a small-town bully who loves to hunt and think about wives. In 2017's Beauty and the Beast, he is a captain recently returned from a war, which feeds into his fixation on Belle-he's bored stiff and clearly needs something to do.
8. Gaston doesn't try to surprise-marry Belle this time.
Remember when Gaston set up a wedding before he'd even proposed to Belle, certain she'd say yes? Ha ha ha ha ha ha…not funny. Unsurprisingly, this scene didn't make it into the present-day version. Thank goodness.
9. There's a brand-new character.
Cadenza, played by Stanley Tucci, is a musician who was turned into a grand piano. Cadenza and Audra McDonald's Garderobe are in love, which is absolutely perfect.
10. The Prince's age doesn't get a mention.
In 1991's Beauty and the Beast, we learn that the enchantment has been laid on the Prince until his 21st year. In the new version, we don't find out how old the Beast is. (Dan Stevens, who plays him, is 34.)
11. The enchantress who puts a spell on the Beast is a much more significant character.
In the middle of the Prince's sumptuous party, a bent woman wearing a cloak begs to be let in-offering a rose in return. We all know that the Prince laughingly rejects her, and that she reveals herself to be an enchantress who curses him and his staff for his cruelty. But in the live-action film, the enchantress has a much larger role, mysteriously appearing at key points throughout the film. We would love to see a movie just about her, to be honest.
12. Belle isn't just a bookworm-she's a kind, creative engineering whiz, too.
Emma Watson has explained that the new Belle has more of a feminist slant, and that shows. The Belle we know always had her nose in a book, and Emma Watson's does too-but she's also got a few other tricks up her sleeve. For one thing, she's savvy enough to help her father with delicate technical work on machinery; for another, she's a resourceful lateral thinker who dreams up a new, more efficient way to do laundry-so she can spend the extra time teaching young girls to read, of course.
You might already have heard about this one, but once Belle is ensconced in her new bedroom, she also immediately tries to find a way to escape the castle, ingeniously using whichever materials she has on hand.
13. We hear Belle's mother's story for the first time.
Part of what makes Belle and Maurice's relationship so moving in the new film is how her mother's absence affects it. Belle asks her father to tell her stories about her mother, whom we know has passed away. But he's reluctant to tell her too many details, and she's not sure why. Later, we finally find out just what happened to Belle's mother, and why her father has remained so sad about it all these years-and it unexpectedly leads to Belle and the Beast sharing a tender moment.
14. Belle and the Beast both love Shakespeare.
Belle, reading Shakespeare aloud to the Beast while he's recuperating from the wounds he sustained while saving her life, hears the Beast join in; he knows the words by heart. He's not a fan of Romeo and Juliet, though: too romance-y. Needless to say, their mutual love of books brings them much closer together.
(Remember when we warned you about spoilers? We are getting more serious here, so one more time: SPOILERS!)
15. There's one extra tidbit that explains the Beast's bad behavior.
Once Belle discovers that there's a curse on the friends she has made in the castle, she wants to help them. She asks the staff why they haven't tried to save themselves, and Mrs. Potts (Emma Thompson) explains that they feel they failed their master when he was young; after his "lovely mother" died, they feel like they didn't intervene enough between the Prince and his father, whose cruelty turned the boy into a hurt and unlovable young man.
16. There's a new magical object that marks a key turning point.
One of the ways Belle and the Beast connect in the live-action film is a totally new addition, hinted at in the trailer. As well as his magic mirror, the Beast has an enchanted atlas that allows the reader to go anywhere they wish. The Beast allows Belle to use it, and she transports them to her childhood home in Paris, where she finally finds out what happened to her mother.
17. Belle finds out about the curse on the Prince's staff before the end.
In the original Disney film, Belle has no idea that there's an enchantment that has befallen the castle. This time around her friends don't tell her they hope she will fall in love with the Beast and break the spell, but Belle does find out that they've been conjured into their current forms by a terrible curse.
18. Belle has some additional accessories when she attends the ball.
We have been waiting to see the real-life version of Belle's iconic yellow ballgown for a while, and it's truly lovely. But there are a few additions to her formal look. To go with her dancing outfit, she wears a golden ear cuff (rather than the plain earrings she had in the animated version), which lends a more modern feel, and a delicate golden necklace. But she has lost one item since 1991-the long yellow gloves.
19. Belle doesn't actually say "I love you" in time to remove the curse.
And it hurts really bad. Thanks to the villagers' invasion of the castle and the Beast's injuries (which Gaston inflicts with a gun, rather than an arrow or a stone stake, as in the original), Belle confesses her love too late-and the result is devastating. Probably the most heartbreaking new scene in the live-action Beauty and the Beast is the one that follows, where the castle's staff become truly inanimate objects. But don't worry: All goes well in the end.
20. For added tension, the castle self-destructs as the rose's petals fall.
The castle's residents must already feel on edge, knowing they only have so much time before they're trapped in their new forms forever. But in this version, every time a rose petal falls, the castle itself shakes and disintegrates-adding even more tension to their excruciating wait.
21. LeFou explores his sexuality in an "exclusively gay" moment.
Director Bill Condon revealed that there would be "a nice, exclusively gay moment" in his Beauty and the Beast. It turns out LeFou may have had some unresolved feelings for Gaston-and he gets an opportunity to really think about them toward the end.
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