Monday Diary: Rise Up Lights and Beauty and the Beast Trailer

Seriously, just try this, and see if you can ever stop thinking about this phrase in a new light (feeble pun!):

As shared on Girl Gone International Facebook
As shared on Girl Gone International Facebook

I first whispered and then just said this out loud to myself, and it works! Burning questions follow this entertaining linguistic trick. Do British people have an easier time switching to “razor blades” in their mind as soon as they hear themselves speak because of their accents? Do American accents still work nonetheless? Do various Aussie accents unwittingly get imitated as a result? If so, are they existing accents? Do we unconsciously try to Australian-ize our pronounciation (without really being able to, except after several episodes of McCleod’s Daughters in my case) as soon as we attempt to rise up lights? And most importantly: what will happen if an Australian simply says “rise up lights”? Life’s profound mysteries.

The internet was not done with us today, nor is it ever. A momentous event has taken place and I’m still fanning myself from excitement. Uploaded seven hours ago as of the time this is being typed and with close to half a million views already, I add my own click(s) to the official full-length movie trailer of Disney’s upcoming live-action version of the animated classic Beauty and the Beast. As soon as I hear those first piano bars from the opening track, despite having heard them thousands of times before, I’m gone.

If the teaser trailer already had me in pieces, this further gem makes me wriggle like an over-excited child and think, “OH MY GOD, this is real!” I can only hope that we will not be disappointed by the movie after the mood both trailers have successfully harnessed, and that Belle didn’t drop that candelabra after her first glimpse of the Beast. If there is one thing I’m certain of, it’s that I can’t imagine anyone other than Emma Watson playing our book-loving, plucky, dreaming heroine in this version.

“I want adventure in the great wide somewhere/ I want it more than I can tell…”

It was a Monday of joyful, thought-provoking discoveries, and with all this talk of the supermoon, which I currently can’t see because of foggy Hamburg conditions, I’m in a witchy mood and will look up scenes with Piper Halliwell from Charmed on YouTube.

 

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More Beauty and the Beast

The French movie directed by Christophe Gans and released in 2014, that is. I remember the Disney animated classic practically by heart, and yes, of course I will watch it again, and again, and again. This version grabbed my curiousity and it coincided nicely with the reignited enthuasiasm for all things Beauty and all things Beast after the teaser trailer for the upcoming Disney live-action film came out.

So, first thing’s first, it’s very different from the Disney interpretation, as it should be. While the story is scary enough, touching on plenty of serious topics if you stop to think about it, this movie was still darker and sometimes gloomier than I expected. There are, of course, familiar sights – an overgrown, dank, forgotten castle. A sense of impending menace before we really know who or what lives there, which transfers from Belle.

It was much harder to relate to the Beast in this adaptation, and however hard I tried to tell myself he was “real”, with “flaws”, the character had some very unattractive qualities indeed, not to mention a very serious sin on his hands. I was constantly scared he would tear Belle to bits, even when she started falling for him. And that’s the crucial point of dissatisfaction with the movie for me, unfortunately. How Belle starts to open her heart to the Beast skipped my understanding. One moment she is resisting his attentions, even while steadfastly accepting her fate, the next all she wants is to remain with him forever, it is her “only wish”. OK, so he did redeem himself by saving her life, and he doesn’t hide who he is from her. Love is all-powerful etc etc.

Nope, still can’t convince myself.

But the cinematography and costumes are stunning. While Belle’s dresses are somewhat too opulent for all that running around she does, the design is amazing.

There are still many ways to tell stories, including well-known and long-established fairy tales, which is heartening and inspiring. The enduring fascination with this particular genre seems to be showing itself in a myriad of new interpretations in entertainment and culture, and I am constantly watching to see what else will come, how characters we have known forever will find their way in to creative projects.

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast with Gifs

Gifs, gifs, gifs, glorious gifs! Yes, it has been almost a week since the teaser trailer for Disney’s 2017 live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast dropped and fans everywhere have been exploding with giddiness ever since.

I could watch the trailer again, and I have. Then the ever-reliable giphy.com provided some lovely gifs from the teaser trailer. They help fill the time while waiting for this movie to hit theaters (2017 is still a bit far-off, after all) and provide some extra fodder for an extended analysis of that which we see before us. Let’s begin. In the order of appearance:

castle 1

“And all who lived there.” Yes, Disney, we know it’s you, nice work there tying in the usual opening castle and logo scene with the story. I still can’t stop remembering Hogwarts in the winter time when I see this. But it’s nice to already get a view of the whole castle, or at least its front facade. That’s a lot of towers.

castle

A circular room with what looks like a domed ceiling, sunlight shining through the windows and illuminating the most likely crystal parts of numerous festive chandeliers waiting for their moment. Gold, white, grey, maybe light-blue dominate what we can see of the interior here and a sleeping piano stands alone. Could this be the ballroom, and if yes, could the iconic dance scene accompanied by Mrs. Potts singing Tale as Old as Time take place here? Dimensions are a bit hard to tell, but judging by the number of chandeliers in this take alone and the several windows, the room must stretch on beyond what we can see. Of course, maybe it’s just the morning room or something like this, where the prince used to play piano regularly in his happier, selfish days, but then he stopped, and it’s been gathering dust ever since, until Belle came along, and as they start to thaw towards each other, they sit down at the piano together and he plays her a long-forgotten tune… My imagination is clearly more than fired up.

castle2

The entrance? The front hall? What Belle sees first as she sets foot inside this forsaken castle? Brown leaves flutter in through the open double doors. Swirling patterns on the powder-blue or white floor echo the curving gold and white molding on the walls. Brown and cobwebs continue on the upper level, though it’s obvious the castle is beautiful (with a good scrub or just some magic once everything is alright again this will actually be visible) and the interiors, while glamourous and speaking of nobility, also have something understated about them, stopping short of being gaudy or ostentatious.

castle3

More gold, and more candles, so many candles! This breathes a bit of Phantom of the Opera and the Phantom’s underground lair, Music of the Night etc. Luckily the castle is actually on the surface of the Earth and Belle is not descending in to the dwellings of an obsessive and murderous dude with a traumatic past and complicated history. She is entering the dwellings of an angry and lonely dude with an as yet unknown past and complicated history. She just doesn’t know what awaits her at all. But there are lots of scrolls here, and a desk, so maybe the people living here used to be interested in things and active in their pursuits.

portrait

A hint about the maybe once happy family who used to live here. We see more gold and curved lines, though the walls and interior around the portrait seem to have absorbed the oft present darkness and stillness that now inhabit the castle. Unlike the room above, a stronger sense of heaviness is apparent, accentuated by the weighty and slightly tattered curtain on the right of the painting. However, candles still burn in their high gold holders, giving sufficient light, because this corner is clearly visited regularly and provokes repeated strong feelings, judging by that make-you-jump growling slash across the canvas. Of course the green-blue eyes and blonde hair of the boy in the center of the portrait are immediately reminiscent of both the animanted prince’s and Dan Stevens’ own luminous peepers…

rose

“It’s a girl!” – “I know it’s a girl!”- “She’s the one, the one we have been waiting for! She has come to break the spell!” What a gorgeous shot. The rose is, of course, perfect, the so far only thing among the preceding interior views that looks truly alive and well. We can tell that Belle is wearing blue, and a ring on the pinky of her right hand – wondering if there’s any story behind that one. Well done, Disney, making fans wriggle some more. Emma Watson bends down and tentatively reaches out a hand towards the rose. Her lovely visage becomes focused, while the rose blurs, but successfully blocks almost half her face as she is level with it. The perfect blend of the known and the mysterious.

But at least we are already invited. My RSVP is ticked off the list.

guest

 

Beauty and the Beast Teaser Trailer

“For who could ever learn to love a beast?”

As far as I’m concerned, the feverish anticipation phase of waiting for Disney’s further upcoming live-action remake of well-known and well-watched animated classic Beauty and the Beast has officially begun. And it began for me the moment I read yesterday that the teaser trailer for the movie was out. A glimpse it is, but oh, what a glimpse!

As far as teaser trailers go, it is gorgeous. A hint of stunning, sweeping cinematography, and doesn’t that castle in the beginning, with the snow swirling around it, remind you just a bit of scenes with Hogwarts in the winter time in the Harry Potter films? I don’t mind at all. And then the sounds from the piano keys one knows so well from the opening score of the soundtrack begin to weave around the images, and my heart almost skips a beat. Such a illuminating blend of the sure-to-come drama, the sadness in the sleeping grandeur of the castle and Belle’s mix of curiousity and caution as she steps inside.

Nothing will ever be the same!

To say I’m looking forward to this is an understatement. To say I’m wildly curious myself doesn’t begin to describe my feelings. One thing is for sure – Emma Watson is one of her generation’s best actresses to portray a young woman with “her nose stuck in a book”, and she is certainly well on her way to creating memorable film portrayals of iconic characters. She can also hold her own with acting based on material that has won millions of fans the world over and continues to endure through time. Playing Hermione, and now Belle, is more than enough pressure. But Hermione is firmly established as a character in her own right, and I hope the same will be true for this new Belle. Emma Watson’s own attentiveness and intelligence will hopefully contribute in the best way to put her own stamp on Belle, yet keep the essential qualities which make Belle who she is.

Remembering Dan Steven’s piercing blue eyes and wonderful diction in Downton Abbey, I also have high hopes for the Beast, aka Prince Adam.

To be released in spring 2017…

 

 

 

 

The Shallows

“Help me!”

Maybe this is just the kind of female-powered shark movie I might tentatively check out. Filmed in Australia, The Shallows should certainly boast some impressive beach scenes, though judging by the trailer, maybe most of the action will play out in and on the water – also promisingly spectacular. The main heroine,  played by Blake Lively, is grieving after a loss and finds herself confronted against nature. Or rather, one of its creations giving her a hard time.

“What was once in the deep is now in the shallows.” Not bad, not bad. Not that it’s entirely atypical that sharks suddenly appear in shallow waters, unfortunately, but hey, sell it like a menacing, one-of-a-kind situation. What exactly was once in the deep? How did it get to the shallows? How big is it? Make the viewer ask questions! This could be a standard one-night entertainer that will make me close my eyes in the process or even jump once or twice, but in the end I will probably shake it off as quickly as Taylor Swift in the song with that very name. Only one way to find out, though. THIS SUMMER.

 

Alice, Newt, Sing Street, Romeo and Juliet

Not only did I really enjoy watching The Jungle Book, but the trip to the movie theater rewarded me with several interesting film trailers that provoked feelings of either curiousity or excitement.

Alice Through the Looking Glass

As with The Jungle Book, more memories surface of literary classics from childhood not read again for a very long time. This one looks to be a glorious, bright, basically psychedelic Tim Burton/ Disney extravaganza, hopefully promising, especially with the acting talents of Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, not to mention Alan Rickman’s familiar baritone. I’m ready for another parallel universe with creatures who are either fantastic or crazy or both. Most everyone’s mad there, anyway.

 

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

To be honest, I had almost forgotten about this one. I know, how could I, as a self-proclaimed devoted fan of all things Harry Potter? But my own Potterverse was very much contained within the seven books and seven movies, and it took a lot of emotional processing to sort out my feelings once both installments were finished. So maybe for reasons relating to fan self-protection I have adapted this cautious stance, instead of jumping and screaming. However, everyone in the audience, myself included, sat up straighter as soon as whispers of “Lumos, Maxima!” floated towards us. Who am I to refuse an invitation to return to the wizarding world?

 

Sing Street

This was completely unfamiliar to me, but it looks like it might be pleasantly nostalgic, funny and the accents are of course irrisistable to someone who leans towards the American accent herself. Plus, it’s spring, a movie about (what looks to be) teenage outcasts forming a band and ultimately arriving at all sorts of profound discoveries might be just the thing. And while I’m not a Game of Thrones fan, that’s Littlefinger sitting calm as you please at some kitchen table in 1980s Dublin! I’ll have to watch this just to make sure everyone is OK in the end.

 

Romeo and Juliet

And finally, this delectable, hauntingly beautiful tidbit. True, it’s a theater production, but if I’m lucky I will catch a live broadcast at my local cinema, thanks to a fantastic project they have going on with some of England’s most prestigious theaters. By coincidence I had been nostalgically checking out clips from the gorgeous 1968 adaptation directed by Franco Zeffirelli, and now this! Lilly James and Richard Madden are certainly a wonderful pairing, and I love how the pace changes from slow to charged in a heartbeat when he twirls her around. How much one wants to believe they are not doomed, even if one knows they are…

‘Tis going to be a good season!

 

 

The Jungle Book

Mowgli is running through a spectacular, breath-taking jungle at clearly the fastest speed he can muster, but we get the sense that he can’t quite match whatever it is that is making him run in the first place. Goosebumps start to prickle along my arms as I wonder whether he is trying to catch up with one of his animal friends… or already being pursued by Shere Khan? Will he make it?

Another installment in Disney’s live-action remakes of their well-known animated classics we grew up with (does this mean we will have to wait several more years for the Frozen version?), The Jungle Book is stunning, absorbing and thrilling from start to finish. It’s also occasionally jump-in-your-seat scary.

mowgli1The amount of work concerning the CGI alone in this film blows my mind. And what good work it is. The jungle is an endless expanse of enormous trees, massive amounts of foliage, green dappled with brown, vines, height, sudden roaring waterfalls and ravines. It seems to be the only world in existence, an ever-changing one, as nature does lay claim to it whenever it chooses. A stroll in a field of tall yellow grass with Bagheera may turn in to a hair-raising fight for survival in a second. You might discover the tree you chose to climb is dead when you are already halfway across its branches. And in the same day you might stretch out at the base of another tree, snacking on some dewy red fruit dangling right in front of your eyes. Hearing about the Man Village and catching a glimpse of it is almost a surprise after moving with Mowgli through this jungle universe.

From Bagheera’s fluid movements that always make you wonder just a bit whether he will pounce on Mowgli after all (even if you know he won’t), to Baloo’s heavy, lumbering walk, to King Louie’s frightening speed despite his enormous size, the animal characters in the film successfully blend the purely animalistic with the fictional elements that make them relatable to the human in us (with all their qualities). We understand and appreciate why they behave the way they do towards Mowgli, secretly relieved that some of them didn’t eat him when they first met the little mancub, but we also never quite forget they are jungle animals, some of them predators, and that’s the way it should be.

mowgli2The film’s thoughtful screenplay and characters successfully extend beyond the excitement of a boy living alone among animals. While Mowgli’s fate and interaction with the jungle and its inhabitants is also a factor that propels our interest, as when we read the book,  eternally appealing themes are explored, sometimes touched upon by a short, but well-written and well-acted scene. “You are mine to me, no matter where you go, no matter what they call you,” says Raksha, his adoptive wolf mother, to Mowgli. “I raised him,” Bagheera says to Baloo, acknowledging Mowgli’s special qualities, which the animals around him cannot always understand, but don’t extinguish completely and finally come to accept. Families coming together in different ways, not just through blood ties, friendship, self-discovery, fear and facing life – The Jungle Book has it all, simply well done.

The natural thing about films with animated or CG characters is that you become additionally aware of voices, and The Jungle Book boasts some very distinct ones among its cast. Christopher Walken brings a menace to King Louie that only he can bring, along with the wackiness, especially since not only his voice animates the ape king, but Walken’s eyes look out of the ape’s face (cue Sleepy Hollow memories). Scarlett Johansson’s extra throaty delivery makes Kaa border between alluring and frightening – make sure you stay for the end credits for her rendition of Trust in Me.

mowgli3Idris Elba voicing Shere Khan is yet another beast (pun!). Shere Khan, the moment he appears, is immediately terrifying. His voice is not just deep, it’s always verging on the edge of a bone-chilling growl and it leaves you in no doubt that the tiger is ready to show his fangs and use them without hesitation. Shere Khan is less about the tiger, the tiger is merely the package in this case, containing a bullying, bloodthirsty, merciless brute who can kill at a moment’s notice and, while more than capable of provoking immediate fear, is ultimately driven by it himself, which feeds his insane desire to eliminate that one thing which constrains his overinflated ego.

mowgli4I left the main character for last, the one that all the animals, from mother, to enemy, to friends, had so much to say about. Mowgli has thus far fortunately been unscarred by the tragedy in his very early childhood which left him an orphan, and despite his occasional struggles with adapting to life in the wolf pack, he has remained open, curious, emphatic and brave. His resourcefulness and inventive streak make the self-discovery part of his journey through the jungle all the more interesting. He is also very resilient, making the audience breathe out in relief when he doesn’t break his back or loose a limb to Shere Khan.

I’ve left out comparisons to both the book and the animated Disney film on purpose, as this movie, while respectfully nodding to its inspiration and even elegantly incorporating the well-known songs without turning in to a musical, is more than capable of standing on its own. “Trust in me, oh, just in me…”