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.
What do these guys have in common? They are played by the same person! Kevin Kline who is now starring as Maurice in the new live action Beauty and the Beast is no stranger to Disney. He was the original voice of Phoebus in Hunchback of Notre Dame as well!
1) Not only is this one of my favorite animated movies, it is one of my favorite movies period. I found it while scrolling through Cartoon Network or HBO Family or something and watched it every chance I could get. 12 year old me found it very edgy. The mild swearing, the cigars, the blasphemy, all of it was very enticing and that’s fed my love of the film since.
2) Elton John & Tim Rice, the songwriting duo behind The Lion King, re-teamed for this film and churned out a nice set of songs. But the strange thing is if you listen to the soundtrack most of the songs are recorded differently than how they appear in the film. The one exception I think is “Someday Out of the Blue” which plays during the end credits. Still, they songs add the fun and energetic flavor to the film. The opening song in particular, “El Dorado,” does a nice job of setting up the mythology we need to get the movie started in a very short amount of time.
3) If you’re a fan of voice over work, you’ll recognize Jim Cummings as Cortez.
Cummings is one of the most prolific and talented voice over artists out there. It would be impossible to list everything he’s done, but his most notable work has been as Darkwing Duck, Winnie the Pooh & Tigger too, Hondo on "Star Wars: The Clone Wars”, Razoul in Aladdin, and Ray the firefly in The Princess and the Frog. It’s fun knowing what he sounds like because not only do you hear him in Cortez, but you also pick up the random nameless characters he plays too with his different voices.
4) The heart of the film, the thing that makes it great: Miguel & Tulio.
The bromance between Miguel & Tulio is what makes this film work as well as it does, it’s what makes it fun! Kenneth Branagh and Kevin Kline voice the pair respectively, and their chemistry is off the charts. It doesn’t hurt that the pair actually got to record their performances with each other, a rarity in animation (although Pixar has done it with Monsters Inc for John Goodman and Billy Crystal).
Their relationship and roles are clear from the start, they balance each other out. Tulio is mildly selfish with a great hunger for gold and an ability to think things through. Miguel’s heart is bigger than their brain, being the dreamer/softie of the group (wanting the map to El Dorado, saving Altivo the horse when he almost drowns, etc.). And they play off each other beautifully.
5) 12 year old me was very fascinated with the slight profanities this film had.
Tulio [when he’s about to roll his dice]: “Come on baby, papa needs that crappy map.”
I thought crap was a real swear when I was twelve. I didn’t lose my innocence until thirteen.
The fight comes into play later in the film too, but is a showcase mainly for the wonderful banter between Miguel & Tulio and - therefore - the excellent writing of screenwriters of Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio. These guys were my favorite screenwriters when I was twelve, and can you blame me? Their resume consisted of: Aladdin, The Mask of Zorro, Shrek, The Road to El Dorado, every Pirates of the Caribbean film, Treasure Planet, and both National Treasure films. They have a strong penchant for strong dialogue too. Consider the exchange above, and also this:
Miguel: “You fight like my sister.”
Tulio: “I’ve FOUGHT your sister! That’s a compliment!”
I love that.
7) According to IMDb:
The film shares several attributes of its namesake, the "Road” comedies made famous by Bob Hope and Bing Crosby during the 1940s (which helps explain anachronisms such as shared language, pop culture references and lack of historical accuracy).
I just thought that was a fun share.
8) God, I love the banter between these two.
[Tulio & Miguel jump into barrels of water in a chase scene but can’t escape because the barrels are being loaded onto a ship]
Tulio: “What’s happening here?”
Miguel: “We’re both in barrels. That’s the extent of my knowledge.”
9) Even the bad guys have great dialogue!
Cortes (upon discovering Miguel & Tulio on his ship): “My crew was as carefully chosen as the disciples of Christ.”
10) I’m just going to let you know now, so many of my notes here are just quotes from the film I love.
Miguel [giddily, after Cortes tell the pair they will be enslaved in Cuba for being stow aways]: “Alright! Cuba!”
11) For example, another quote:
Miguel: Yes, that’s it Altivo. Find the pry bar!
Tulio: Yes, “find the pry bar”. He doesn’t understand “pry bar”! He’s a dumb horse, there’s no way he could understand…
[Altivo drops keys into the brig]
Tulio: Well… it’s NOTa pry bar.
12) The Trail We Blaze
Animated films are usually short so as to be not too time consuming. It can take years to make 80 minutes of animation. This film has a nice device of compacting what could be very long scenes into neat little montages with the use of a song. We still get Tulio & Miguel’s fun journey through the jungles to find El Dorado, but it’s done in three and a half minutes to a fun Elton John tune. It keep the energy, the adventure, but doesn’t waste the time of the animators or the audience.
13) Immediately Tulio and Chel have great chemistry as they play “pass the golden idol” together!
Immediately upon entering the city the audience is filled with a sense of wonder, achieved through gorgeous animation and also Hans Zimmer’s subtle music which adds for extra bone tingling. You marvel at it with Tulio and Miguel, and you understand how it is such a mythical place.
15) Edward James Olmos does some great voice over work as Chief Tannabok.
I’ve never seen “Battlestar Galactica” so I am mostly familiar with Olmos from his work in Blade Runner, Stand & Deliver, and even “Agents of SHIELD”. I think he shows off a nice amount of range with this addition to his resume. Chief Tannabok is not an angry man. He is kind, soft, gentle, patient, but also you can tell that he’s kinda sad. You don’t HEAR Olmos, you hear the chief and that makes him an excellent addition to the cast.
16) And of course our big bad, Tzekel-Kan
Tzekel-Kan is the opposite of Chief Tannabok. He is angry, an overlord of sorts. He wants blood because he believes it is what’s needed. He believes people are wicked and evil just for enjoying life and being kind, and it is his righteous duty to smite them. He pisses me off way more now than he did when I was twelve.
17) This whole bit with the volcano! Miguel goes too far and says that the gods should not be questioned or else they will be forced to release their awful wrath…but Tzekel-Kan wants to see that. Only they’re not gods! So he and Tulio turn away to try and figure it out and we get this…
There’s an old addage in writing: “A coincidence to get a character out of trouble is lazy.” However in this case I’m 100% okay with that because it’s just funny as hell.
18) How many of us have used this GIF?
Chel is a nice way of making the duo a trio. Voiced wonderfully by Rosie Perez, she is just as crafty and cunning as Tulio (if not more so) but also understand Miguel’s sense of adventure. The pair balance each other out already, bit if Miguel acts too dreamer-y or Tulio is too gold hungry they throw each other out of whack (as this film shows). Chel helps stabilize them by film’s end and is a lot of fun to watch. Also, bonus points for being an animated female character with a body that is physically possible.
Chel [on why she wants a life of adventure]: “You’ve got your reasons…and I’ve got mine. Let’s not make this personal, okay?”
WHAT ARE HER REASONS!?!? WE NEVER LEARN!!! I MUST KNOW!!!
21) So Chel needs to prove to Tulio and Miguel she’s a good con artist…
[Chel shows the pair the dice she stole from Tulio]
Tulio: “How did you get those?”
Miguel: “Where was she keeping them?”
I’m with Miguel, that’s the more important question.
22) Oh Miguel…
23) It’s Tough to be a God.
The only time this film is a traditional musical (ie: the characters themselves break into song & dance), and considering Kevin Kline’s and Kenneth Branagh’s singing here that might not be the worst thing. The interesting thing is that their version doesn’t even appear on the soundtrack. Instead we get a duet with Elton John and Randy Newman.
24) I need to remember this excuse.
Tulio [trying to convince Tzekel-Kan not to make a human sacrifice to the gods/them]: “The stars are not in position for this tribute.”
Miguel: “Like he said…”
(GIF source unknown [if this is your GIF please let me know].)
25) I don’t identify totally with Miguel or totally with Tulio, but with parts of them. Like I identify with Tulio being kind of the dreamer who thinks things are possible, but this is a very me thing to say:
Tulio [after Miguel tells him he worries too much]: “No, I worry just the right amount! You can never worry too much!”
Same, Tulio. Same.
26) Remember how I said this movie was edgy to 12 year old me. Well it features a scene where Chel tries to seduce Tulio. Like, more than wanting a kiss. But like she shows off her shoulders for a back massage, they’re later found on the ground together all disheveled, it’s not even very subtle when you know what’s going on. Twelve year old me was very innocent.
27) I love their banter.
Miguel [when he and Tulio end up in a big arena to play ball for the locals]: “Well don’t blame me!”
(GIF source unknown [if this is your GIF please let me know].)
28) The ball game is a lot of fun to watch, if for no other reason then Chel on the sidelines.
Chel: “Foul! That was a foul!”
And then it’s her idea to use the armadillo as a ball replacement to cheat.
29) So earlier in the film we got this line from Miguel:
(GIF source unknown [if this is your GIF please let me know].)
And then later in the film Miguel tries to convince Chief Tannabok that the boat they are using to leave isn’t good enough (because Miguel wants to stay) when in fact it’s perfect. When Miguel admits his mistake, we got this line from the chief.
Chief: “Hey, to err is human.”
Miguel goes to get in the boat, but then he looks over his shoulder at the chief and the chief looks at him knowingly. And they don’t say anything else about it.
I love that. I love that the chief isn’t an idiot, but he knows. He knows and he knows it’s good for his people and he knows Miguel is a good guy and…I just love it!
30) I love little things like this.
[A giant stone jaguar, controlled by Tzekel-Kan, attacks the city. It grabs a warrior, ruffs him up A LOT, then lets him fall to the ground.]
Warrior [patting himself down]: “I’m okay!!!”
[Jaguar steps on warrior]
Warrior [from under Jaguar’s foot]: “I’m still okay!”
31) Remember how I talked about Chekov’s Fake Fight?
Tzekel-Kan [when he was Miguel & Tulio cornered]: “I know what you are and I know what you are not. And you are not GODS!”
Tulio [after a beat]: “Y-you’re not a god!?”
The pair then continue to have a very real argument where they say some pretty cold things to each other…
Tulio: “You’re buying your own con!”
Miguel: “At least I’m not DATING mine!”
But it has the same effect. Tzekel-Kan is distracted, enjoying their fighting, and the audience is as surprised as he is when the pair work in sync again and punch the guy out. It’s a nice way of playing the scene out.
32) Friends Never Say Goodbye. A very sad song that plays when it seems like Tulio and Miguel are going to take separate paths in life and are really mad at each other. It actually has some nice truths to it, and again is slightly different on the soundtrack. Elton John is backed up by the Backstreet Boys for the song on the album. I hope that didn’t ruin it for some of you.
33) The film ends with the citizens of El Dorado crashing a pillar into their gate so as to keep Cortes from finding the city, only it is falling too soon. So Chief Tannabok grabs some of the ropes and holds it back for a while. And this is probably REALLY mean of me and I apologize in advance but I just thought of this:
I’m so sorry.
34) According to IMDb:
A series of sequels featuring Miguel, Tulio, Chel, Altivo and even the armadillo going after other legends about gold was planned, similar to the Shrek (2001) series, but following the disappointing box-office results they were immediately canceled.
While that would’ve been interesting I’m kinda glad this film just stands on its own. It’s a nice little gem that way.
I love this film, and think a lot of people out there will too. People don’t really talk about it these days except to talk about how no one talks about it. It’s a nice variation from standard Disney fare, the music is great, freaking Miguel & Tulio are just awesome, and it is just such an enjoyable/adventure filled film. I think you should all watch it now! It’s on Netflix if you have it. So go. Go follow that trail! (Too easy?)