You know, when it was announced that Disney would continue its trend of making live-action, loosely based versions of their animated films, I couldn’t help rolling my eyes and exclaiming, “What is the point?” I know that’s not an unpopular opinion, and it can definitely be argued that these remakes are meant to suck people in due to nostalgia. As for me, I basically shoved aside these remakes after Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” made me long for the colorful insanity of the animated film (and that’s not even one of my faves!).
But yesterday, I decided to watch the new live-action version of “Beauty and the Beast.” I had my criticisms, sure, but I’d be lying if the occasional bit of nostalgia didn’t get me sentimental. It had its good and bad points both including and excluding nostalgia, but it made me realize something. Up until these remakes were announced, I had no problem with adaptations of these stories. The animated Disney movies might be a huge part of my childhood, but other versions have existed both before and after them. The reason these ones bothered me all this time was obvious: It was Disney retelling Disney.
That’s not to say retreading old ground is always a bad idea. For example, I watched the 2016 version of “The Jungle Book” today and thought it improved on many things, even if it kept the musical aspects to a minimum. It proved that Disney could take one of its versions and change it just enough to let it stand on its own. With “Beauty and the Beast”, that line is arguably blurred. It added some moments that felt like padding to me and others that felt like they fleshed out Belle and the Beast’s budding relationship. It’s the fact that, as a musical, it follow similar beats to the animated movie that I’ve seen many people deem it pointless (I was guilty of that too before seeing it myself). I still understand where they’re coming from, even if I do think it’s a decent film. But both of these films were insanely successful. So, I think there’s an interesting argument to be made about whether to change things up or to mostly capitalize on nostalgia.
I think, at the end of the day, people want a good story and characters they can get behind despite that extra dose of nostalgia. We hold many of these stories in high regard because Disney made us care about them once upon a time. Remakes are always going to happen with or without Disney, just as they did before the Disney Renaissance existed. I now feel these remakes are less of a cash grab (though they DO make all the money) and, on a sentimental level, more of a chance for us to care about these stories again and view them in a different light. And while not everything they remake will be up to someone’s standards, I kinda have to give them kudos for that.