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Did Emma Watson make the right choice for turning down La La Land? What have we got to look forward to in the upcoming remake of Beauty and the Beast? Ashley Yonga gives us some answers.

The anticipation for this film has been phenomenal. I was sceptical when I first found out that they were making a remake, but when it was announced that Emma Watson and Dan Stevens would be playing the title characters, it just felt… perfect.

I’ve been a little weary about the recent insurgence of live action Disney films. They’re enjoyable, but they always feel a little like they’ve taken something away from the originals. It felt as though these classics were no longer stuck in time. This was something that had made them so enchanting.

The newest trailer for Beauty and the Beast proved just how wrong that was to think. When these films were first released, things were different. Cinema was different, special effects were different, the world itself was different. It makes sense, therefore, to make new films that not only reflect the advances we’ve made technologically but as a community as well.

Fairytales were originally designed as cautionary tales: to warn children of the darkness of the world. Along the way, they morphed and become tales of happily ever after and every dream coming true. As romantic as this is, it’s not entirely real. This story was always a scarier one: a young girl – an outcast in her village – is taken hostage by a beast who the villagers try to kill. It’s not exactly the happiest of plots despite the true love element.

You clearly get that just from the teasers. The dark and decaying castle, the ominous music – simply put, it sends chills down your spine. The villagers who cast Belle away because of her intelligence appear more cruel and hostile.

They probably always were, but this kind of darkness is lost in animation. Ultimately, that’s what sells the reboots. They remain true to their original incarnation but also true to the original intention of fairytales.

Many reports have said that Emma Watson gave up the lead role in La La Land for this – and hearing her talk about Belle you can understand why.

Watson describes that Belle’s society tries to ‘break her spirit, push her and mould her into a more acceptable version of herself. [She] think[s] that happens a lot with women and young girls.’ This is a cause that is dear to her – she fights every day for it – so is it any wonder that she’d take on a role that deals with this?

Will Beauty and the Beast win as many awards? Probably not.

In truth, it’s unclear whether Watson would have given the nuance that Emma Stone brought to Mia in La La Land and there couldn’t possibly be anyone better to play Belle. This tale is one that needed to be retold and Emma Watson is, after all, the closest one could get to the Disney princess.

It was the right choice for her as an actress, you can see how passionate she is about this character. These live action films introduce these stories to a whole new generation of people. They lift these ‘tales’ up that bit higher by making them closer to us.

They remind us why fairy tales were so important to begin with: a reminder that the world isn’t always a happy and musical place. Nevertheless, the beauty of this movie and all like it is that they let you hope that it could be – and as charming as La La Land was, it’s got nothing on that.

Watson’s Belle is a scientist, she’s a teacher and staying true to the animation, a fierce and loyal daughter. Interviews describe themes of anti-intellectualism and Belle’s possible Stockholm Syndrome which sparks a lot of healthy debate. There are things audiences have noticed from the animation that this new version can now tackle.

Will Beauty and the Beast win as many awards? Probably not. But Disney has the unique gift of creating something often very rare in film: sentiment. This movie will mean a lot to many more people – it will do so for years to come. In the end, Emma Watson probably felt that was the better fit.

What do you think of Disney live action remakes? Let us and @AshYonga know on @EpigramFilm.

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