Belle: the modern revisit of Beauty and the Beast by Mamoru Hosoda – cinema news

Presented at the Cannes Film Festival, the new animated film by Mamoru Hosoda is finally released in theaters. Meet the Japanese director who talks about Belle, his modern revisit of Beauty and the Beast.

After Les Enfants Loups and Miraï my little sister, Mamoru Hosoda returns with Belle, a brand new breathtaking animated film. This 2.0 revisit of the tale of Beauty and the Beast tells the double life of Suzu, a teenager with complexes in real life but a musical icon followed by 5 billion followers in the virtual world of U. Her fragile balance is upset when she meets the Beast, a creature as fascinating as it is frightening.

Met during the presentation of the animated feature film at the last Cannes Film Festival, Mamoru Hosoda returned to AlloCiné on his work, his inspirations and his desires with this last film, finally released in theaters.

AlloCiné: What was Belle’s initial idea?

Mamoru Hosoda: The main inspiration is obviously The beauty and the Beast, this French history written in the 18th century. I love this work and its different adaptations, like the film directed by Jean Cocteau but also the Disney version of 1991.

In fact, when the Disney movie came out, I was just starting to work in animation. And when I saw Beauty and the Beast from Disney, he was so amazing that it made me feel better about working in animation. So I wanted to pay tribute to this film but I didn’t know how.

I wanted the story to unfold in our present and that’s how I got the idea to mix this work into the world of the Internet. This idea that the Beast has two faces or two faces could stick to our duality between our real life and our life on the Internet. The real me and my social media account are two different faces, that was my original idea.


2021 STUDIO CHIZU

By transposing the story of Beauty and the Beast into the virtual world, you start a conversation on the use of social networks, which they can send back to us as an image, but also on this paradox between their harmful effects and their effects. positive …

The subject of the Internet or social networks is something that has interested me for a long time. 20 years ago, I had already made a film on this theme and I continue to deal with this subject. With Belle, this is the third time.

Today in Japan there is a lot of talk about the negative side of social media, cyber attacks, cyberstalking, hate comments from people who would never do in the real world. In real life these attitudes are singled out, but in the virtual world people are much more daring to behave like this badly.

We tend to talk more about the negative aspect of social media, but I’m sure there are a lot of positives too, as we see in the film. It is only in the virtual world that we can know someone that we do not know in real life and that we can even save a person that we did not know.

We can also have a kind of solidarity between anonymous people. Contrary to popular belief, things that are impossible in real life can be achieved in the virtual world. This is what I wanted to tell the younger generation. I hope she can use social media in a positive way.

At first, because I liked Disney’s version of Beauty and the Beast so much, I wanted to make a musical where everything is sung. But it was very difficult so I only used four sung pieces. This does not prevent that I am very happy with the result.

How did you imagine U’s virtual universe?

Everyone uses the Internet, but no one knows how it is represented visually. I really imagined myself in this world, because when we talk about the Internet we think of the homepage of search engines, but we don’t know what is visually going on inside. It’s a totally free universe and I wanted to express this freedom on which we have reflected a lot with my team.

I worked a lot with Eric Wong, a young British conceptual artist. He had no experience in cinema. In fact, I found and contacted him on the Internet because I liked his job very much. The way of working also suited the content of the film perfectly. I also worked with Jin Kim, a Disney studio veteran, on Belle’s character design. I wanted the production to be global with people from all backgrounds and all origins.


2021 STUDIO CHIZU

Did you encounter any difficulties in the construction of the film?

At first, because I liked Disney’s version of Beauty and the Beast so much, I wanted to make a musical where everything is sung. But it was very difficult so I only used four sung pieces. That doesn’t prevent me from being very happy with the result because I really wanted the songs to be the elements that touch the characters and the audience the most.

In all of your films, childhood, family and learning are very recurring themes. There, you shake a little your usual patterns in Belle and you question these notions with a beautiful message on the fact that the family is ultimately the one we create. Was it important to you?

You are absolutely right, that is what I really think. So obviously family is very important, but in reality not all families can be happy. Yet we are always looking for the love of a family. When you look at the secondary characters in the film, the singing ladies are a bit like mothers to Suzu because they worry about them. Suzu’s childhood friend also protects her.

The characters seek to fill gaps in their lives and turn to mutual aid, solidarity, sharing to find this feeling and recover what they have lost. Today, the classic family no longer exists. There are different situations, but all children need the love of a family, of parents.

It’s a film that’s as much for children as it is for adults, who are kids who eventually grew up. Adults should ask themselves the right questions and strive to make children happy. It is a very big challenge.


2021 STUDIO CHIZU

Are there other French tales that could inspire you for other films in the future?

I love Beauty and the Beast so much that I find it hard to name others (laughs). In fact, it is a story that has had so many adaptations and each work shows the evolution of our society. It is an excellent work to adapt. But maybe I’ll take Beauty and the Beast again as inspiration to make another totally different movie.

You have a very rich background in animation and since you took your independence with your own animation studio Studio Chizu, you only focus on your own original films. Is there any occasion that you could go back to making franchise movies like Digimon or others or even series? Could you come back to these kinds of projects?

As long as I am interested in the project, it does not matter whether it is an adaptation, a series or a commissioned film. Right now I’m focused on my own original films which I think today’s society needs. To achieve this goal, I need to write the story myself and be free.

It’s the Chizu studio, which I co-founded, that allows me to work like that. And this studio has never produced commissioned films until today. And for the moment, since we don’t make this kind of films or commercials, it is not necessarily easy financially (laughs).

I really care about this freelance status and it’s the only way to make films as an art. If we make commissioned films, we are necessarily influenced by investors. For now, I have only the pure motivation to make films to create works of art.


2021 STUDIO CHIZU

One last question, if you had to create your own avatar in U’s world, how would you imagine it?

I rather want to ask you the question because I don’t know (laughs). Okay, maybe I have an idea. I have a little dog who has a problem with one of her legs and she has trouble walking without a prosthesis. In U’s universe, it could float. So I might like to imagine an avatar of a companion character for my dog ​​in this virtual universe.

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