That Easter Moment: Eucatastrophe in the new Beauty and the Beast

beauty-and-the-beast-2017Disney’s new live-action adaptation of the classic animated musical Beauty and the Beast has a lot of people talking. Actually, it has me singing. As a young teen in 1991, I had the musical memorized. As I sat in the cinema this past March at age 40, I had to keep one hand over my mouth to keep from belting out lines like, “I want adventure in the great wide somewhere…” and “I use antlers in all of my decorating!” It’s now been weeks since I saw the new movie, yet Beauty and the Beast earworms remain. (She writes, muttering, “…don’t believe me? Ask the dishes!”)

So it has us talking and singing. And why not? There’s lots to talk (and sing) about. The new film makes some significant adjustments to 1991’s script and story: new songs, updated lyrics, additional backstory. The changes do more than simply re-heat and re-serve an animated classic. Beauty and the Beast 2017 spins the “tale as old as time” for a modern audience. Three changes interest me the most, the third in a timely way. [Read more…]

Nicolas Flamel in Fantastic Beasts 2?

Dear John,

What do you think about the theory of Flamel and Newt meeting up in Paris and Grindelwald trying to get the philosopher’s stone?

Kelly

John’s response after the jump! [Read more…]

Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them Deleted Scenes — Not All, But a Bunch

Want to see those deleted scenes before the DVD extras are released? They’re on YouTube now: Mildred’s dropping Jacob, the full Jacob and the Demiguise chase scene (but not the Newt and Tina shared future glimpse), GrindelGraves comforting Tina and grooming Credence, the Runespoor Jacob didn’t quite see eye-to-eye, Shaw, Sr., in grief at the newspaper office, why Queenie took Jacob from the hotel rooftop to the battle scene, and what happened to the escaped Billywig Newt forgot.

We’re missing the Credence at lunch with Graves, Newt’s shirtless moment, and the GrindelGraves extended scene in the subway professing love for an Obscurus, not to mention Graves having his vision in his MACUSA office, but there’s an awful lot here to unpack.

There’s an extended version of the subway scene with Credence visible in the Obscurial online now, as well.

Here’s the weird thing. Though all these extended play and deleted scenes are already online, two ‘Exclusive Deleted Scenes’ from ‘Fantastic Beasts’ — both of which are on the other, longer reel above, Jacob and the Demiguise without the Queenie-Jacob moment, i.e., significantly shorter — have just been officially released in the run-up to the launch of the film’s DVD/Blu-Ray packaging.

Anybody have an idea as to what is going on? First thoughts about the deleted scenes? Let us know below!

Signum U. Symposium: Beasts and Rogue One

Last month, I was pleased to take part in a Signum U./Mythgard Institute-sponsored symposium to discuss the two hottest fantasy films of the holiday season, and their various and sundry implications: Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Also taking part were friends of this site Katherine Sas and Kelly Orazi (whom you’ll remember from their brilliant essays in Harry Potter For Nerds 2), Curtis Weyant (who is one of my own, personal go-to Star Wars nerds), Brenton Dickieson, Mythgard faculty member and author of the brilliant blog A Pilgrim in Narnia, and of course our moderator, Sørina Higgins. It proved a lively, lengthy and interesting discussion, especially after our host ended the “official” program, and the remaining panelists, having too much fun to hang up, chatted on unreservedly. Please enjoy, and feel free to add your own thoughts on these two films, and our nerdy discussion of same, in the comments.

You can follow Emily Strand on Facebook and Twitter (@ekcstrand).

Oscar Nominations for Fantastic Beasts: Nothing for ‘Best Original Screenplay’?

OscarsWe have this year’s Oscar nominations for the films released in 2016. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them received two nods from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in the categories of production design (Stuart Craig) and costume design (Colleen Atwood). Betting odds at the time of this posting have 17/3 for Costume Design, fourth out of five, and 11 to 1 (ouch) for production design, a category the gamblers have all but ceded to La La Land.

f38811174This is exactly in keeping with the performance of the eight Harry Potter franchise films on Oscar night. Those films, still the most lucrative franchise of all time not featuring comic book heroes (or adding the new Disney Star Wars to the Lucas Films haul), received 12 nominations in six categories and won exactly zero Oscars. The nominations never included a ‘Best’ picture, actor, actress, supporting actor or actress, screenplay adaptation, director, cinematography, editing or either sound editing or mixing. Nada.

You’d think, frankly, that the Academy was made up of cranky Potter Pundits who think the films were a disaster that so despoiled the imaginative experience of the Hogwarts Saga that they deserved only a Razzie (Special Achievement). Folks like me! But we know that is not true. So where’s the love? Can ten gazillion Potter film fans be so wrong about the Warner Brothers cash cow? Are the movies just high gloss schlock?

I’m not a movie guy so I’m out of this discussion, that is, any conversation beyond noting that the professionals in Hollywood sure don’t like the Wizarding World movies. 

FB21I bring all this up, despite knowing almost exactly nothing about film making, to note one thing about the Oscars this year, the nominations that Fantastic Beasts scratched out, and the lack of success of the Potter franchise through the years and, it seems, Beasts this year to win anything, even a nomination in a category of note. 

Fantastic Beasts, unlike all the Potter films, was eligible for an Academy Award for Best Writing, Original Screenplay.

This year they snubbed J. K. Rowling, The Presence Herself.

I can hear your objections. “Of course she wasn’t nominated for ‘Best Writing’! It was her first attempt at a screenplay. She and her fans should be thrilled she wasn’t short-listed for 2017’s Worst Writing, Golden Raspberry.”

FB66Fair enough. Having studied the screenplay that was published, however, and read too many of the interviews with screenwriter, producer, director, actors and actresses involved, I feel obliged to note that what we got on the screen wasn’t what Rowling wrote.

We knew of seven scenes that were cut before yesterday’s announcement that the DVD will include eleven deleted scenes. And these aren’t just lost overviews of Gotham in the 20’s. These are story elements as important as, say, the ending of the film, the unnecessary bit (?) in which Rowling showed Credence Barebone alive and boarding an ocean liner. Or the scene of the MACUSA auror Graves having the vision which drives him to pressure Credence for information about his family.

Miranda1Not only do those deletions from the shooting script create a different story than the one Rowling wrote, I think it is fair to say they changed the entire story experience. To the point, they obscure the artistry Rowling the story teller (and, oh yeah, best selling novelist of our time) brought to the table as screen writer, the ring writing that caused Lin-Manuel Miranda to call her “The Master of Reprise.”

FB73Would Rowling have deserved a nomination if the Davids had filmed the shooting script and left it as the film we saw in theaters? We’ll never know. What we do know is that whatever the Academy thought of as “failings” in her work are just as likely the fruit of the determination of her producer and director — who in all their collaborations, to repeat myself, have netted exactly zero Oscars — to make her Fantastic Beasts script into a movie that conforms to conventional formula. Rowling described the process of working with them in her Original Screenplay acknowledgments, along with some nicer modifiers, as both “exasperating” and “infuriating.”

Here’s hoping her next contract includes a clause about ‘final cut approval’ so there might be a chance that the next time a Beasts film is up for an Academy Award we don’t have to re-run this post.