Following the news that Emma Watson and Miles Teller are “raising hell” with their agents for not securing the actors’ original roles in La La Land, which is now dominating the awards circuit to the dismay of the film’s could-have-been stars, the latest trailer for the other big-screen musical that Watson chose over Damien Chazelle’s golden-age Hollywood fantasia comes with an aura of urgency. Will Beauty and the Beast prove to be worth the missed opportunity of dancing and singing in a Jacques Demy-inspired dream world? Or will Watson be forever saddled with regret that she chose to play village girl Belle over aspiring actress Mia?
The trailer does little to assuage the pang of uncertainty, since it showcases both the promise and possible undoing flaw of Bill Condon’s live-action remake of Disney’s 1991 animated classic. On the one hand, the new film looks resplendent, with the trailer suggesting large-scale song-and-dance numbers that, not unlike those in La La Land, hark back to the the halcyon days of the Hollywood musical. An army of lavishly dressed extras swishing across the ballroom floor in synchrony, Gaston dancing on a table, Belle waltzing in her iconic yellow dress—it all looks like great, old-fashioned fun, and you’ll be hard-pressed not to be floored by nostalgia when the original film’s beloved music surges onto the trailer’s soundtrack.
On the other hand, nostalgia can only get a film so far, and though the trailer illuminates the painstaking care that Condon and crew took to recreate the look and feel of the 1991 film, it is also precisely this commitment to imitation that is concerning. Sure, live action and animation are different mediums, but is this sole difference justification enough for resurrecting the same characters, the same music, even the same shots? Homage is meaningful only when it takes the old and does something excitingly new with it. La La Land understood this. Hopefully—for both Watson’s sake and ours—Beauty and the Beast does too.
Check out the full trailer above, find the previous trailer here and catch Beauty and the Beast when it hits theaters on March 17.