This scene from the live-action version of “Beauty and the Beast” features Emma Watson as Belle and Kevin Kline as her father, Maurice. Mr. Kline sings a song written specifically for the new film, “How Does a Moment Last Forever.” In an interview, the director Bill Condon explained why new songs were added and what his narrative approach was. Here are excerpts from that conversation.
What strikes you about this particular scene?
A lot of people who’ve written about the movie have said that it’s kind of a copy of the animated film, and I thought this scene was a good illustration of how that really isn’t true.
In translating a movie from an animated form into this new medium, inevitably things become more real, nuanced, and hopefully filled with history and psychology. I think the crucial thing is that no relationship, no matter how loving, is without its difficulties. And so that’s what I wanted to introduce here, a sense that there is something about her father that frustrates Belle.
Maurice didn’t have a song in the animated movie, correct?
Right, but he had a song in the Broadway show called “No Matter What.” I looked at the songs from the Broadway show and none of them really fit into what I thought we should do in this film. So this was the first of the three songs that I asked Alan Menken and Tim Rice to write. I really do think Tim nailed it with the first lyric: “How does a moment last forever? How does a story never die?”
As this song goes through the movie, it tracks the relationship between Maurice and Belle, and also the mystery surrounding Belle’s mother’s death.
Would you talk about the music boxes and drawings in Maurice’s studio?
They all represent scenes from different cultures. Belle’s knowledge of the world comes from the very few books that she gets to read and from these images that her father has created. So she has grown up looking at these things. There are depictions of Russia, for example, and the Far East. And in a way, her father’s art represents a way for her to imagine the world.
What was the design philosophy here?
I knew going in that we were going to have a computer-generated beast and computer-generated household objects singing. Because of that I really wanted as much of the rest of the world to be built. I do think people feel the difference. So we took over the entire back lot and many, many stages at Shepperton Studios in London.
The scene was designed by the brilliant Sarah Greenwood with her great decorator Katie Spencer, who created all those beautiful music boxes. They refer to a very specific period: the 1740s in France, which is when the original story was written.