Newly Released Film Gives ‘Beauty and the Beast’ an LDS Update


    By Tyler Hinton

    The “tale as old as time” is getting a Latter-day update.

    “Beauty and the Beast: A Latter-day Tale” was released in Utah movie theaters Friday, March 16, 2007. It is based on the original fairy tale and is laced with Latter-day Saint and mainstream Christian themes.

    The PG-rated film, produced and distributed by Candlelight Media, stars BYU Music Dance Theatre graduate Summer Naomi Smart as Belle and costars current BYU students Matt Bellows and Lindsay Bird.

    BYU graduate Brittany Wiscombe wrote the screenplay and helped produce the film. She said her brother, director Brian Brough, came up with the idea, and a couple weeks later they began pre-production. Her story, while similar to other versions, has distinct points of difference, she said.

    “Our beast is not a physical beast,” she said. “He”s not disfigured. He”s rather quite a handsome man, but he treats others badly.” The film follows his journey to spiritual healing.

    “It”s not strictly an LDS film,” Bellows said. “It”s a moral film, and the fairy tale itself is a moral tale about love and loss.”

    Bellows, who will play the title role in BYU”s production of “Hamlet” this month, is the Gaston character, called Craig, in the movie. Having previously played the beast in the Disney musical at Hale Center Theater, he said he was keenly aware of the differences between the two adaptations.

    “It was particularly interesting because the Gaston character, Craig, isn”t the powerful character he is in the musical,” said Bellows, who is majoring in acting. Instead, Craig manipulates Belle by telling her God revealed to him they should be married.

    “I hate those kind of guys, so it was fun to bring to light their manipulation,” Bellows said.

    In the film, Bird plays Belle”s best friend, Anna.

    “I”m all the appliances come together as her emotional support,” Bird said, referring to the enchanted objects in the Disney version.

    Wiscombe said the movie is the first she has worked on that she doesn”t tire of watching.

    “I think it will really appeal to the BYU audience,” she said, emphasizing that both males and females enjoyed it at the test screening. “I was actually really surprised at how well it came together.”

    “Give it a shot,” Bird said. “There are so many Mormon comedies out there. This is an actual attempt to create a great Mormon film. Support the industry.”

    Bellows agreed.

    “I hope people get a chance to see it,” he said. “I think it”s a better film than some other LDS films have been. It”s a timeless story.”

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