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Beauty And The Beast

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The exquisite live-action film has a timeless feel in the tradition of the great Hollywood romances. However, as opposed to an undated alternate fairy tale universe, the story is set in a specific time and place: mid-18th century France, the village Villeneuve named after the author of the original tale La Belle et la Bête [1740]. Keying off of that, every detail and line is embraced and enhanced.

The distant castle, designed in the French Rococo style of that period, evolves with the story, changing from desolation to exuberance. The castle’s ballroom is a massive set, the floor made from 12,000 square feet of faux marble.

Production Designer Sarah Greenwood based the design on a pattern found on the ceiling of the Benedictine Abbey in Braunau, Czech Republic. Set Decorator Katie Spencer SDSA brought in ten crystal chandeliers, each measuring 14 x 7 feet, based on chandeliers from Versailles.

Belle’s bedroom, like the ballroom, is located in the benevolent enchantment area of the castle and is designed to appeal to every child as the ideal fairy tale bedroom.

[IMAGE – Belle’s Bedroom]
Castle, Belle’s Bedroom Disney Enterprises © 2016 All Rights Reserved

The West Wing, where the Beast often retreats, is the epicenter of the enchantment and is designed in Italian baroque, which is more sinister and dark in appearance.

The castle’s library is a key setting, relevant to an important theme in the story: the thirst for knowledge and the vital role books play in feeding the imagination. The floor is made from approximately 2,000 square feet of faux marble and features thousands of books which were created especially for the production.

The team had the additional challenge of creating sets and furnishings that could withstand the dance numbers…and the choreography…pieces could not be moved once set in place! 

Beyond the massive castle, sets were highly layered, especially those such as Maurice’s workshop where the level of set dressing is even more detailed and dense. The beautiful music boxes Maurice creates, complete with incredible gilded castings, were all made by hand and depicted different cities and countries from around the world. Because they exist in an enchanted and magical environment, these are not just music boxes, but portals to other worlds…a fitting microcosm of the entire film.

Castle Library – Dan Stevens, Emma Watson Disney Enterprises © 2016 All Rights Reserved

The following article has been reproduced with kind permission of the Set Decorators Society of America

A more detailed version of this article can be found at: SDSA – Film Decor

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