"Tale as old as time..."
When Belle’s (O’Hara) father is imprisoned by the Beast (Benson), she offers herself in exchange. Taken to his castle she discovers that the animal was once a man, cursed to stay as a beast until he finds true love but he is not used to visitors. The curse has also affected his servants, with Lumiere (Orbach), Cogsworth (Stiers), Mrs. Potts (Lansbury) turned into talking ornaments, Belle believe she has wondered into a magical place. When the villagers think he has been kidnapped however, Gaston (White) swears to kill the Beast and save Belle but could the Beast be more than just an animal?
The word classic is used far too often when describing films but there is one traditionally animated movie that truly deserves that heady accolade, ‘Beauty and the Beast’.
Walt Disney animation used to be a byword for quality family entertainment. Year after year we were treated to classic after classic. From 1938 when ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ changed animation forever, a run of animated films like ‘Cinderella’, ‘Pinocchio’, ‘Dumbo’, ‘Peter Pan’, ‘Lady and the Tramp’, ‘Bambi’, ‘The Jungle Book’ and ‘One Hundred and One Dalmatians’ have rightly deserved the moniker of ‘Classic’. During the 1980s however, Disney Animation lost its way with ‘The Fox and the Hound’, The Black Cauldron’, ‘The Great Mouse Detective’ and ‘Oliver & Company’ but under the watch of Jeffrey Katzenberg the word ‘classic’ came back into play. From 1989, ‘The Little Mermaid’, ‘Aladdin’ and ‘The Lion King’ recaptured the true essence of Walt Disney animation, combining cutting edge traditional animation with song and dance sequels that had become beloved by families around the world. There was one film in this renaissance that pushed the standards even higher however and it was called ‘Beauty and the Beast’.
The first animated movie to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars in 1992, the release of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ in 1991 became a pivotal time for Walt Disney Pictures and the film would be considered as the crowning glory of the 90s renaissance of the studio before it would fall from grace again during the new millennium. Considered perfect in every way, this was another Disney Princess story that captured the spirit of ‘Cinderella’, ‘Sleeping Beauty’ and ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’. Based on the French fairy tale by Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont, the film was optimised everything that was right with Disney adaptations of classic tales.
A damsel, a curse, a villain and an unsuspecting prince combine with loveable supporting characters, song and dance to bring the story to life. The care and attention in every aspect of the film’s production there to see in every beautifully animated frame, ‘Beauty and the Beast’ set the standard for family entertainment. It was the romance of the film that hit with audiences however. The tale is a love story that plays to everyone with a heart and will bring a tear to the eye of even the coldest of souls. The story of Belle and the Beast is one that transcends time, showing that it is the person you are inside that what people fall in love with.
A Disney classic would be nothing without its supporting characters and, of course, the songs and ‘Beauty and the Beast’ has both in abundance. The staff from Beast’s castle have all been caught up in the curse and turned to furniture and ornaments. Becoming the loveable characters Lumiere, voiced by the late Jerry Orbach, Cogsworth, voiced by David Ogden Stiers and the immortal Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Potts. You also have a great villain hunter Gaston, voiced by Richard White. With Paige O’Hara as Belle and Robby Benson as Beast, the whole cast sing the beautifully written songs by Oscar winners Alan Menken and the late Howard Ashman. “Be Our Guest”, “Belle”, “Gaston” and “Beauty and the Beast” are some of the great songs in the history of Walt Disney musical animations.
There are few films that deserve the moniker of ‘Classic’ but ‘Beauty and the Beast’ is a shining example of that. A perfect musical, a perfect piece of animation, with perfect characters and a perfect love story, this is the definition of classic animation.
Three versions of the film:
Special Extended Edition
Original Theatrical Release
Work in Progress Edition (with intro by Don Hahn)
Music & More - Disney Sing-Along Mode
Classic DVD Bonus Features - View film with commentary by Directors Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale, Producer Donh Hahn and Composer Alan Menken
Blu-ray Disc One
Three versions of the film
Backstage Disney: Diamond Edition - Composing a Classic: A Musical Conversation with Alan Menken, Don Hahn & Richard Kraft
Introduction to alternate story open by Peter Schneider
Alternate Story Open
Introduction to Deleted Scene by Roger Allers
Belle In The Library
Family Play: Broadway Beginnings
Music & More: Disney Sing-Along Mode (Sing Along with all your favourite songs. The worlds pop-up on the screen - available for all film versions)
Music Video from The Disney Channel
Classic DVD Bonus Features View film with commentary by Directors Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale, Producer Don Hahn and Composer Alan Menken
Blu-ray Disc Two
Backstage Disney: Diamond Edition - Beyond Beauty: The untold stories behind making Beauty & The Beast
Games & Activities: Enchanted Musical Challenge: A Disney Quest Game
Classic DVD Bonus Features:
The story behind the story
The Lion King
The Jungle Book
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Conclusion (with credits)
Beauty & The Beast Music Video: Performed by Celine Dion & Peabo Bryson (With intro by Celine Dion)
Early Presentation Reel (with intro by Don Hahn)
Alternate Version: "Be Our Guest" (with intro by Don Hahn)
Alternate Score: The Transformation (with intro by Alan Menken)
Introduction to Deleted Song: "Human Again"
By Don Hahn - story
By Alan Menken - Music
Deleted Song "Human Again"
Animation Tests, Rough & Clean Ups
The Transformation: Pencil Version (with intro by Don Hahn)
A Transformation : Glen Keane
Camera Move Test (with intro by Don Hahn)
Trailers & TV Spots:
Introduction by Don Hahn
Original Release Trailer
Large Format Release Trailer
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