Animated Oscar Contender ‘Belle: The Dragon and the Freckled Princess’ Spins a VR ‘Beauty and the Beast’

Animated Oscar Contender ‘Belle: The Dragon and the Freckled Princess’ Spins a VR ‘Beauty and the Beast’
One of this year’s animated Oscar contenders could be veteran Mamoru Hosoda’s dazzling Cannes debut “Belle: The Dragon and the Freckled Princess”, inspired by the French “Beauty and the Beast” fairy tale, about rural school kids who take on alter egos in a digital universe, based on their strengths and weaknesses. “Belle” could mark the filmmaker’s second animated feature Oscar nomination after “Mirai.” The movie screens October 23 at Hollywood’s Animation Is Film festival before its later Oscar-qualifying GKids release.

Hosoda updates the 18th-century fairy tale that has spawned countless movie adaptations, from Jean Cocteau’s 1946 black-and-white French classic to the Disney animated musical and its recent live-action remake, with a near-future story that combines “Ready Player One” with “Eighth Grade.” The movie’s naturalistic setting is the filmmaker’s birthplace Kamiichi, a remote western island.

“It’s a very rural place,” Hosoda said. “It’s a
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