Disney has released the first poster for their upcoming live-action adaptation of Beauty & the Beast. The poster gives us a very clear look at the enchanted rose, one of the most iconic items from the original film. This bit of visual language also gives us a peek into Disney’s art direction philosophy are approaching the live-action adaptation of one of their more fantastical classics.
What can one poster – a single still image – tell us about the art direction of the film and the unique challenges it’s facing? Let’s start with the stem of the rose. In the new poster, it’s actually less realistic than the rose from the original animated film. Sure, the lighting and texture make it seem more concrete, but it has a dramatic, picture-perfect curve to its (nearly thornless) stem that seems more intentionally composed than the original rose.
This technique of exaggeration is extremely powerful. It gives artists the ability to go beyond depicting what something is so they can tell you what it’s like or even what it means. What’s most interesting, though, isn’t just the way these two images differ in terms of what they exaggerate – it’s the way they emphasize the exact same thing but with opposite goals.
It’s clear how both images use strong contrast and color to draw your eye to the same focal point: the rose’s blossom. In the new poster, however, that blossom is the most realistic element you can see. Surrounded as it is by an elaborately etched bell jar on a commanding marble table that seems to have been custom-built for it, it’s pretty much the only thing in the whole poster that you’re likely to find, as is, in the real world. In the image from the original film, the exact opposite is true. The blossom is dripping with glowy sparkle-magic while it hovers under a perfectly plain bell jar on a table that looks like it came from your grandma’s living room.
This is fascinating because it sheds light on how this art department is striking a balance between fantasy and believability. If they can create a world where the air you breathe is filled with magic, then whatever sits at its center – however real – will seem magical.
The film is due in theaters on March 17th, 2017 and stars Emma Watson as Belle and Dan Stevens as the Beast. In case you missed it, here’s the teaser: