I can’t believe it’s actually been twenty five years since “Beauty and the Beast” actually came to theaters. It’s one of the many Disney films I went to see as a child, and loved it for its amazing animation and fantastic tale. Disney offered up their own twist on the fairy tale many read as children, and it’s a unique iteration that managed to be a huge hit in the 90’s. It is also the last animated movie to be a serious Oscar contender before the Oscars stuffed animation in to their own category away from live action fare. “Beauty and the Beast” thankfully still holds up as a moving and charming tale that takes a very epic tone toward the classic fairy tale.
Paige O’Hara plays Belle, a beautiful young girl and book worm who is devoted to her father, and is constantly being courted by the village braggart and tough guy Gaston. Gaston is a bulky hunter who is insistent on marrying Belle, but Belle wants more than simply living in the village and being a wife. After Belle’s father is lost in the woods and taken hostage, Belle is led by his horse Maurice to a castle. The castle is run by a monstrous beast who was once a very vain man. The man named Adam was cursed by an old beggar who turned him in to a beast, and his servants in to household objects with consciousnesses. Belle is incapable of convincing the Beast to let her father go, but offers to take his place as his hostage.
When he’s released, Belle is kept in the castle with the various servants of the house, all of whom takes pity of Belle, and helps her time in the castle go by with much more ease and comfort. Adam was also given a magical rose that is wilting and he will die when it dies if he doesn’t find true selfless love by his twenty first birthday which will also allow him to transform back in to a human. Belle soon enough takes a charm to the Beast and begins showing him the brighter side of life, and the Beast begins to slowly fall for the unorthodox Belle, who brings out the more humane side of his personality. “Beauty and the Beast” is still a rather fantastic take on the fairy tale that adds much more of a mythos to the simple fairy tale. The beast is so much more of a sympathetic side character who is allowed to shine when Belle begins bringing the lighter side of his persona out to the world. Like most films of the Disney golden age, the film shines thanks in large part to the voice cast.
The amazing supporting cast provides truly brilliant performances, including Jerry Orbach who plays the suave candle holder Lumiere, David Ogden Stiers who is wonderful as the talking clock Cogs, and Angela Lansbury who is superb as the wise matriarchal teapot Mrs. Potts. “Beauty and the Beast” succeeds in creating a marvelous and interesting dynamic between Belle and the Beast, and watching their bond grow from friendship to eventual romance is entertaining. The animation is still incredibly mind blowing, especially with the way the Disney team implements computer animation for the sake of the iconic ballroom sequence. Disney’s animation golden age was quite a sight to watch as they turned out classic after classic, adding their own unique touches to age old stories far and wide. “Beauty and the Beast” has mastered being a timeless animated romance that’s fit for all ages and is an absolute masterpiece.
The Signature Edition from Disney comes with a DVD Copy, and Digital copy that can be accessed on DisneyMoviesAnywhere, along with the older special features from past editions. There are also three editions that come packed in this release. There’s the original theatrical edition, the Sing-Along Edition, and the Special Extended Cut. For the Extended Edition only, there’s an audio commentary with directors Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale, Producer Dan Hahn and Composer Alan Menken. “Always Belle” is an eleven minute profile on actress Paige O’Hara, who discusses her roots, the part of Belle, and the legacy of the film. “Menken & Friends: 25 Years Of Musical Inspiration” is a nice talk between various legendary composers for Disney films including Alan Menken, Stephen Schwartz, Robert Lopez, and Lin-Manuel Miranda, just to name a view.
They discuss “Beauty and the Beast” and all pay tribute to Menken in their own way. “#1074: Walt, Fairy Tales & Beauty And The Beast” is a nine minute look at the two attempts to make Beauty and the Beast during the 1930’s and 1950’s, with artwork and story notes featured on those attempts. “The Recording Sessions” is a three minute series of VHS recordings of the actors in their recording booths, which helped animators craft facial expressions and whatnot. “25 Fun Facts About Beauty And The Beast” is a segment from the Disney Channel where we learn 25 facts. “Beauty And The Beast Sneak Peek” is a minute long look at the live action adaptation as directed by Bill Condon, along with table reads of stars Emma Watson and Dan Stevens. Finally, “Song Selection” is a twenty two minute playlist allowing you to pick various songs from the sing-along cut of the film.