Dangerous French Cinema Half 4: Stay-Motion Fairy Tales – Alternate Ending


As any cultural observer has observed, the Disney Ouroboros, having consumed each mental property on earth, has now turned by itself tail and cannibalized the very animated movies that have been as soon as the hallmark of its creative output, excreting pre-digested live-action remakes in its wake. What started as a trickle within the nineties and early aughts changed into a veritable flood throughout no matter we name the final decade. Whereas Disney zealously guards their very own mental property, they haven’t but discovered a solution to possess issues which might be already within the public area. And so, in the identical decade that Disney cranked out live-action remakes of Cinderella (2015), Beauty and the Beast (2017), and Aladdin (2019), three French diversifications of the identical contes de fées (all with French pedigrees, I would add) additionally noticed the sunshine of day—in two out of three instances, earlier than their Disney counterparts. And, in two out of the three instances, the French movies are a lot, a lot worse than the Disney abominations.

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Magnificence and the Beast (La Belle et la Bête, Christophe Gans, 2014)

Live-Action Fairy Tales

Magnificence and the Beast, as we’ve come to comprehend it, is a story as previous as 1740 and a music as previous as roughly 1990 (Howard Ashman could have taken some poetic license). The first iteration of the story got here from the pen of Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve, a novelist who wrote a novel-length model. It was abridged and rewritten by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont in 1756. This model, rendered into English, entered Andrew Lang’s Blue Fairy Book in 1889, and from there it will definitely entered the general public area. None of this issues a lot, because the model all youngsters will know from now till the top of time is Disney’s, which makes some appreciable alterations to the rickety scaffolding at the start and finish. And it’s exhausting to be too mad about this, as a result of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast stays among the best animated movies ever made.

To the credit score of Christophe Gans—director of cult classics Crying Freeman (1995), Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001), Silent Hill (2006), and… yeah, that’s about it—he doesn’t try and pillage the reminiscence of the Disney model. As an alternative, he pillages the reminiscence of Jean Cocteau’s La Belle et la Bête, the basic French movie from 1946, extensively (and justly) thought of among the best ever. The Letterboxd abstract claims that Gans is adapting the uncared for unique model of de Villeneuve, however an early sighting of the republican tricolor flag means that this model in all probability doesn’t happen earlier than 1740. The bleu, blanc et rouge are seen flying on one of many vessels of a rich service provider who loses his whole fortune at sea, to the dismay of his three sons and two of his three daughters. When one of many ships resurfaces, the service provider is satisfied that he has been saved from destitution. He goes on a protracted journey to get better his items, instantly learns that they’ve been seized to pay his money owed, and loses his method on the return journey, discovering himself in an enchanted citadel. Then he sees a rose and…

Look, I mentioned it was rickety! That is the precise set-up of Cocteau’s model, with the identical prolonged delay till we lastly meet the Beast, right here voiced by Vincent Cassel and performed by the best CGI a mid-budget 2014 film might afford. Cassel had labored earlier than with Gans in Brotherhood of the Wolf, the place he starred reverse Monica Bellucci. Gans appears to have had the Midas contact for anointing future Bond ladies—Bond girls in the same Bond picture, no much less—since Cassel’s display screen associate this time is Léa Seydoux, who, up to now, had solely appeared in minor roles in English-language movies however had main star turns in Blue is the Warmest Color (2011), Farewell, My Queen (2012), and my favourite recurring dream. Right here she performs Belle, and he or she is. One of many criticisms lobbied towards this movie is that it’s little greater than a glorified fragrance industrial. They are saying that prefer it’s a nasty factor!

You understand what’s dangerous, although? The CGI. Along with the Beast, we’ve an meeting of cute creatures that could possibly be described as both “pet gremlins” or maybe “proto-Porgs.”

Live-Action Fairy Tales

Then we’ve some specious CGI animals in a sequence of flashbacks to when the prince was human (Oh, spoiler: the Beast is a cursed prince). The flashbacks do double obligation of unloading dangerous CGI on the viewers and disrupting the story by displaying us Vincent Cassel’s face, however at the least this section additionally has gratuitous nudity. The final act, through which some ruffians descend on the citadel to strip it naked, not solely has spotty CGI however a head-scratching flip to motion as huge stone colossi come to life and smash, stomp, and hurl the thieves to dying in superb slo-mo. Then Belle and her brothers should fend off the attacking forest as they seek for a solution to save the Beast’s life. Welcome to Zack Snyder’s Magnificence and the Beast!

Is it higher than the Disney remake? It’s not a patch on the 1991 or 1946 movies, however I’ll spot it this: It’s a lot better than the 2017 live-action remake.

The New Adventures of Aladdin (Les nouvelles aventures d’Aladin, Arthur Benzaquen, 2015) and The Model New Adventures of Aladdin (Alad’2, Lionel Steketee, 2018)

Live-Action Fairy Tales

The story of “Aladdin” comes from the 1001 Nights. Besides it doesn’t. It is likely one of the so-called “Orphan Tales” inserted by the French translator Antoine Galland, whose model (in twelve volumes, 1704–1717) first launched the work to European audiences. What this implies is that there isn’t an Arabic unique of “Aladdin.” It was transmitted orally and recorded in French—as was “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves” and components of “Sinbad the Sailor.”

In standard tradition the 1001 Nights are a lot much less a sequence of tales than an meeting of motifs (a magic carpet, a Genie, a girl that fucks an ape) that may be rearranged right into a story. Comparable to, for instance, The Thief of Bagdad (1924). Or The Thief of Bagdad (1940). Or Disney’s Aladdin (1992), which is principally a facsimile of The Thief of Bagdad (1940). Or The New Adventures of Aladdin (2015), which has not a lot to do with Galland’s story however is unquestionably a parody of Disney’s Aladdin.

It’s Christmas Eve, and… wait, what the fuck? Sure, this film based mostly on Arabic folks literature opens on Christmas Eve, within the current day, the place a dishonest division retailer Santa (Kev Adams) tells the story of Aladdin to entertain a gaggle of pre-adolescents. What follows is an hours-long riff on the Disney model, stuffed with rap songs and fart jokes. Here’s a sampling of the gags to allow you to into the movie’s headspace. The Vizier (Jean-Paul Rouve; bear in mind this identify), who has designs on the throne (after all), recites his evil plan to himself. “Are you speaking to me?” one of many guards asks. This prompts an alternate that lasts many years. Later, the Genie (Éric Judor) introduces the idea of democracy to the residents of Baghdad, however a heckler calls into query the spelling and pronunciation of the French phrase démocratie. “Why,” he asks, “is it démocra-SEE and never démocra-TEE?!”

Most mind-melting of all, within the remaining confrontation between Aladdin and the Vizier, the Vizier catches our hero off-guard by telling him that he’s his father, however Aladdin sees via the ruse and cold-cocks him. In a mid-credits sequence, the princess (Vanessa Information) and the Sultan (Michel Blanc, of the comedy troupe—you guessed it—Le Splendid) deliver out the imprisoned Vizier to mock him for this line, forcing him to repeat it. They go actually exhausting on this man: The rap music within the credit ends with a refrain of (in English) “Fuck the Vizier!”

I can’t spend an excessive amount of time on Aladdin as a result of it was profitable sufficient to have a sequel, Alad’2 (2018), a half-pun to point out how half-assed it’s. Having run out of Disney materials, this one has an “unique” story, the place one Shah Zaman (Jamel Debbouze, the director of Animal Kingdom: Let’s Go Ape, which I coated in an earlier entry) usurps Aladdin’s throne and tries to win over the princess. Aladdin reunites with the Genie however first should save him from a sticky authorized scenario, whereby the Genie has impregnated each girl of a small village. Aladdin involves his protection by claiming the Genie is way too ugly to have been the perpetrator. “The masks bought out final Halloween!” If actual life had a fourth wall, I’d stare glumly at it now.

The jokes of those motion pictures boil all the way down to insipid wordplay and anachronisms, however Alad’2 provides a 3rd class: cameos. Expensive Lord, the cameos. The Genie, in his effort to return Aladdin to Baghdad, by accident sends him throughout house and time. So he runs into Gérard Depardieu taking part in Christopher Columbus. He leads to a nature documentary with well-known TV presenter Frédéric Lopez. He winds up in Seventeenth-century France and meets D’Artagnan (the actor is of no consequence; the “cameo” is D’Artagnan). Lastly, as to at least one premature born, he seems to the “Snow Queen,” performed by Anaïs Delva, the French voice of Elsa (of Arendelle, you realize, the well-known Elsa). You’d assume that they’d use this chance to make an affordable “Let It Go” joke. And also you’d be right.

As soon as Shah Zaman is gone (by way of the modern-day body narrative, used to hijack the climax), we’re handled to at least one final cameo within the type of the mononymous Tal, a Franco-Israeli singer, who supplies the top credit music. Does utilizing an Israeli singer to log off a narrative based mostly on an Arabic folktale reek of dangerous style to you? Merry Christmas!

Is it higher than the Disney remake? The 2019 live-action Aladdin is the very soul of mediocrity, so no, the French motion pictures will not be higher.

The New Adventures of Cinderella (Les nouvelles aventures de Cendrillon, Lionel Steketee, 2017)

Live-Action Fairy Tales

“Cinderella” is likely one of the tales included in Charles Perrault’s Histoires ou contes du temps passé (1697), a foundational textual content for the literary variations of European fairy tales. The story had beforehand appeared in print in Giambattista Basile’s Pentamerone or Tale of Tales (1634), however Perrault added the pumpkin, the glass slippers, and the Fairy Godmother—components you would possibly take into account important to the Cinderella story. Primarily as a result of Disney did.

Though the typical fairy story is already demented, “Cinderella” particularly appears to be a black gap of feminist grievances. And, personally, I’ve by no means discovered the Cinderella story compelling as a story. An entire lot of individuals disagree—not solely Disney himself however Drew Barrymore, Camila Cabello, and the darkish forces behind Cinderella: Once Upon a Time in the West. So what pleasures do The New Adventures of Cinderella have to supply us?

Not many! First, this film has the identical artistic crew as the 2 Aladdins, so we’re thrust into the modern-day world of the hapless Julie (Marilou Berry), an workplace doormat who’s left watching her colleague’s baby on her personal birthday just because she is into him (the colleague, that’s). Berry performed a lot the identical function in Joséphine (2013) and its abominable sequel (2016), rom-coms based mostly on a BD which might be utterly worthy of this column.

She weaves a contemporary tackle “Cinderella” to entertain the child, and with it, we obtain full Shrekification. The prince (Arnaud Ducret, who additionally performs the colleague), trying to find a bride, first tries kissing Sleeping Magnificence however finds her “disgusting.” Cinderella, accosted by wolves within the forest, diverts their consideration to Little Purple Driving Hood. The night time of the ball, the prince undergoes a number of speed-dating rounds along with his company, certainly one of whom is Snow White (one other is Anaïs Delva—let it go, honey).

This Cinderella not solely absolutely embraces the fractured fairy story format however injects an unhealthy quantity of crass sexual humor, a lot of it of the “Hey, lookup right here!” selection. So… the prince likes boobs. Lots. Cinderella particularly asks the Fairy Godmother (in what, by now, has turn out to be the usual studying of the textual content, he’s a drag queen) to spherical out her ladies a bit. The prince notices—partly as a result of Cinderella performs a striptease for him—however because the clock strikes midnight, she should depart behind her out of the blue too-large brassière, deciding that the prince is a boor, and she will do higher (Feminism!),

Cinderella decides to get again on the prince. When he comes calling, she has the Fairy Godmother remodel her ugly stepsister right into a D-cupped magnificence, and he or she rides off into the sundown with the prince… a least till midnight, when she reverts to her former self, and the prince screams in abject horror (Feminism… ?).

Is it higher than the Disney remake? I haven’t seen 2015’s Cinderella, however provided that few issues are worse than The New Adventures, I’ll charitably assume the Disney remake is best.

Gavin McDowell is a Hoosier by delivery and French by adoption. He obtained his doctorate in “Languages, Historical past, and Literature of the Historical World from the Starting till Late Antiquity” and is at the moment investigating Aramaic translations of the Bible. He’s supremely unqualified to speak about movie. For extra of his unprovoked film opinions, see his Letterboxd account.

Dangerous French Cinema Index
Part 1: French Films with Famous Remakes
Part 2: French Animation

Part 3: Serial (Bad) Weddings
Half 4: Stay-Motion Fairy Tales


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