With Hollywood turning more of its attention to the world of graphic novels for inspiration, I’ll cast the spotlight on a new comic book each week that has the potential to pack a theater or keep you glued to your television screens. At the end of some “Adapt This” columns, you’ll also find thoughts from the industry’s top comic creators about the books they’d like to see make the jump from page to screen.
This Week’s Book: Beast by Marian Churchland
The Premise: The classic tale of Beauty and the Beast gets a modern-day spin in this story about a young sculptor who agrees to carve the likeness of a mysterious client out of marble. As the project begins to consume more and more of her time, she discovers that her client is more than he seems — and she’s faced with a tough decision about her life and future.
The Pitch: While I’m not the typical audience for romance movies or younger-skewing drama, it’s not difficult to see the appeal of a story like Beast for adaptation. As I mentioned earlier, Churchland’s graphic novel is based on the well-worn Beauty and the Beast, but gives the entire tale a fresh coat of paint — and a more modern aesthetic.
In the comic, Colette is a young, independent artist with which female readers — and in this case, audiences — should find a lot in common. The events that lead to her taking the sculpting job with the mysterious new client make sense in the context of the story, and it’s this sense of realism that makes the more unusual elements of the story stand out.
In Beast, Churchland manages to offer a mix of love story, mystery, and supernatural adventure, all told from her young, attractive main character’s point of view. There’s an artsy, hip feel to Beast that carries through the story and gives it a softer tone, but still allows you to see a bit of yourself in the main character. Given the recent popularity of projects that mix young-adult drama with supernatural elements, it’s easy to see why a movie based on “Beast” could develop some traction in Hollywood — heck, it practically screams for a cast of 20-something, up-and-coming actors.
As far as effects go, there would be little needed to bring the aforementioned supernatural elements of Beast to life on the screen. The character of the “beast” is revealed incrementally as the story progresses, so any major effects would be reserved for the climax of the film and would seem that much more impressive after the long build-up.
With so much of the story told from Colette’s point of view, it’s a role that would serve any young actress well, offering her the chance to carry the film’s dramatic narrative and show a range of emotions as Colette’s character develops. While the story doesn’t require much action, there’s plenty of opportunities for wistful gazes, troubled brows, and piercing stares — and some great monologues (internal or otherwise), too.
The Closing Argument: Attach a well-known, capable young actress to “Beast” and it’s hard to imagine the film not doing well. While the story offers a few unique twists and turns — and an ending that few audience members will expect — it is, after all, a retelling of one of the most popular love stories around.
And when it comes to the classics, why ignore what works?