beauty and the beast

Film sets are ridiculous places. You have dozens (and depending on the day, possibly hundreds) of crew members gathered around a set while actors put on costumes and play pretend. Green screens must be ignored – they will look like an actual background when all is said and done. That CGI monster will be added in post – for now, just pretend to to run away from it. The set only extends as far as the frame – tilt the camera a half inch and you’ll see craft services.

Making any movie is a weird and arduous process, but making a big-budget fantasy movie is even weirder and more arduous. And in the case of Beauty and the Beast, it meant Dan Stevens having to wear the most ridiculous motion capture suit imaginable…and Emma Watson having to look him in the face and not giggle. A new featurette from the upcoming home video release of the film offers a peek at this process and it’s an amusing reminder that all movies look completely ludicrous until they’re done.

Beauty and the Beast doesn’t hit Blu-ray and DVD until June 6, but USA Today revealed the featurette below on their Facebook page. While anyone with even a remote interest in film technology has seen their fair share of mo-cap suits over the past decade-plus, few of them have looked quite as silly as the get-up Stevens wears in this behind-the-scenes footage. To simulate the bulky frame of the Beast, his clothes have been padded. His shoulders are impossibly broad and his thighs monstrous. His tiny human head sits perched atop this beastly outline. Let’s not beat around the bush: it looks hilarious.

But the results speak for themselves. No matter your opinion on the final film, the Beast himself looks great. All of that on-set ridiculousness paid off! While Dan Stevens probably felt really silly acting out entire scenes on set and then having to act them out again at a later date so his facial expressions could be recorded and digitized, it’s hard to argue with the results.

I love this. I love how making movies is all about assembling little pieces that seem totally nuts in isolation but completely sing when everything is assembled. The best art always comes from a place of fearlessness and while we can debate whether or not the new Beauty and the Beast is the best at anything, there’s certainly a fearlessness involved in putting on a silly suit and praying that everyone makes you look good. Sometimes, you just have to look stupid for your art.

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