Turning classic animated kid stories into live-action films and TV shows is a trend that’s here to stay. From Beauty and the Beast to Riverdale, live-action retellings are a hit.
Partly, that’s a result of the technology available to filmmakers today. Live-action movies can rely on special effects and still look like real life. Just think of 2016’s The Jungle Book – watching the film it’s easy to believe that Mowgli, played by kid actor Neel Sethi, swims and converses with a bear named Baloo. The seamless combination of live-action and CGI in The Jungle Book would not have been possible 10 years ago. But the technology is just part of what drives the making of live-action adaptations.
In the clip above, Mowgli and Baloo sing together in a scene that looks convincingly real.
Riverdale, the TV show based on Archie Comics, doesn’t rely on CGI. Instead, it takes popular comics and completely changes the tone of those stories. Riverdale presents characters audiences can already name in a different light; it provides an alternative version of a town audiences already know. The show replaces the comedy found in the comics with drama, and in doing so gives new life to the source material. Riverdale expands the world of Archie beyond the familiar.
The look and feel of Riverdale are dramatically different from the original comics.
This year’s Beauty and the Beast is very familiar to fans of the 1991 animated film. At times, the live-action film brings the cartoon to life almost shot-by-shot, but there are key changes to ensure that the story feels modern. Recent live-action adaptions don’t simply replace cartoon characters with human actors, they are updated to reflect contemporary values and norms.
Among other changes that reflect modern audiences, LeFou is Disney’s first openly gay character.
The stories we loved as kids never leave us. They are always available to transport us to another place and time, to welcome us back into the story. Perhaps that’s why we reach back to the stories we loved as kids and bring them with us as technology evolves, we move forward, and society progresses. Live-action remakes of classic animated tales are a way to pass on stories that were meaningful to us as kids in a form that lets today’s kids make them their own. It’ll be up to the kids of today to decide what to do with those stories next.
Media offers a world of entertainment and learning possibilities for children and youth. The kidsmediacentre explores kids' media futures and is committed to supporting cross-platform content producers in Canada to ensure the kids' media industry is vibrant, indigenous and committed to the healthy growth of children.