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Disney's Beauty and the Beast (1991) is an Animation Masterpiece
Nov 12, 2005 (Updated Jun 15, 2006)
by Marie Dragonfire
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:Wonderful story and animation
The Bottom Line: Beauty and the Beast is a wonderful animated movie that is one of the best ever made by Disney.
Over the years, Disney has made many wonderful animated movies that are now considered classics. I have seen all of their movies and enjoyed some more than others. Disney went through a period when their movies werent as popular before they bounced back making some of their best movies. Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorite animated movies and one of the best made in the 1990's.
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A handsome but very selfish prince was cursed by an enchantress. She turned him into a beast and all of the servants fell under the curse as well. A magical rose was left behind as part of the curse. If the prince could learn to really love and be loved in return before the last petal from the rose fell, the curse would be broken.
Belle lived in a village with her father Maurice. People considered her odd because she loved to read and wasnt obsessed about finding a husband like other young women. Maurice invented things and was called crazy by many in the village. Gaston, a handsome vain man, decided that he was going to marry Belle just because she was the most beautiful girl in town. He couldnt understand why she wasnt interested and he kept plotting with his friend Lefou. Maurice left to go to a fair. He got lost in the woods and ended up at the Beasts castle where he became a prisoner. Beast didnt like having company. Belle was worried about her father when his horse returned alone and she made her way to the castle. Belle agreed to stay there if her father was let go. Lumiere, one of the servants, along with Mrs. Potts and eventually Cogsworth, did their best to make her feel welcome. Beast started to act friendlier and they started to develop a relationship. Back in the village Gaston hatched a new plot to try to force Belle to marry him that involved a threat to Maurice.
There have been other movies made that told of the story of Beauty and the Beast. I havent seen any of them, so I dont know how they compare to the Disney version. I know there was a fairy tale, but I dont remember ever reading it so I dont know now the movie compares to that either. As far as I can remember, my first exposure to the story was from this movie. I loved it the first time I saw it and Ive lost track of how many times Ive seen it since then. The movie tells a wonderful story that is good for families. There were a few moments that might be too scary or upsetting for younger children.
Beauty and the Beast did have a somewhat more complicated plot than some of the other animated movies that were made before it. That doesnt mean that the plot was so complicated that it is too difficult for children to be able to follow. I do think it was necessary for the story to flow properly to include an explanation for why the Prince and his castle were cursed. That was handled well through the voice over at the beginning of the movie. It was accompanied by visuals that looked like stained glass windows that helped to illustrate the story. After the backstory was explained, Belle and her father were introduced. It did take a while before Belle and Beast actually met. The movie had to deal with their changing and growing relationship, the curse, as well as the problems that Gaston stirred up in his quest to make Belle his wife. The overall outcome of the movie was predictable but that didnt bother me. There were some other small surprises throughout the movie.
Beauty and the Beast, like many of Disneys animated movies, had an important message included in the story. The movie showed how people shouldnt be judged by their outer appearance and that it is what is inside that is important. Someone that has good looks, like Gaston, can be a horrible, selfish person that doesnt care about other people. The prince was originally cursed because he made a judgement based on an appearance. After he was cursed, he looked like a monster. He acted like one as well until Belles presence started to change him into someone that was kind and loving. He became willing to put Belles happiness above his own, something Gaston was never going to do. Belle was considered the most beautiful girl in the village by most people. That is all she had in common with Gaston. She was obsessed with her own appearance and she truly cared about others. The movie wasnt trying to say that only unattractive people are good and all beautiful people are bad. It just worked out that way with Beast and Gaston. I think that the movie got the message across without being heavy handed about it. The movie was fairly serious for an animated movie, but there were still many funny moments. Lumiere and Cogsworth provided a lot of the humor.
Like many of the Disney animated movies, Beauty and the Beast included a love story. The love story portion of the movie was tied up with the curse since love was needed to break it. Belle didnt think much of Beast when she first met him. That slowly changed as he started to act kinder. He wanted to do things that would make her happy which is why he gave her the huge library. He did get some help from Lumiere and Cogsworth in wining over Belle. There was a bit of a love triangle going on since Gaston was determined to make Belle his wife regardless of what she wanted. He thought he deserved her because she was the prettiest woman in town and he was considered the most handsome man who was the best at everything. He wasnt concerned with her feelings in any way, which he really showed when he came up with the plan to try to force Belle into marrying him. Just about every other unmarried young woman in town was drooling over him, but he didnt think they were good enough for him. The romance aspect of the movie was very tame and innocent, so parents dont have to worry about their being anything not appropriate for their children to see.
Beauty and the Beast effectively used songs to help tell the story. The first song, Belle, showed how people thought she was odd. The song Gaston showed how he was considered the best at everything. Lumiere and some of the other servants used the song Be Out Guest to welcome Belle to the castle. The song also shared a little bit of information about the curse with Belle. When she and Beast sang Something There, it signaled that they were developing feelings for each other. Mrs. Potts sang Beauty and the Beast during a very important evening. A version sung by Peabo Bryson and Celine Dion played during the credits. There were instrumental pieces of music used during other scenes. The music for the movie was written by Alan Menken and the lyrics were created by Howard Ashman. I do think that the songs worked to move the story along. Future Disney movies also featured several original songs, and I dont think it worked as well in some of the other movies. The songs did seem to become a set formula for Disney animated movies.
Beauty and the Beast was created with traditional hand drawn animation. It was made before computer animation gained the popularity it has now. Computers were used for a few sequences, but the movie was primarily created with hand drawn animation. This was the first animated movie that had CGI created backgrounds while the characters were still animated with traditional animation. The technology for computer animation was still in early stages then. Some of the backgrounds did have more movement going on while others, including the last shot of the movie, had a more static look. There are a few scenes that include hair blowing in the wind or rain that looked very well done. I think the animation in the movie is beautiful and holds up well. Computer animation has come a very long way since it was used for a few things in this movie and it does give newer animated movies an amazing look. Madagascar and the Shrek movies have wonderful computer animation and were entertaining, but their stories dont hold a candle to the best of Disney. It seems like studios are scarf icing the stories in their pursuit of what else they can do new with computer animation. Pixar is the only one that has also had consistently strong stories to go along with the amazing computer animation. Home on the Range, which wasnt that great of a movie, was the last hand drawn animated movie to be made by Disney. I think that Eisner made a mistake with the decision to end traditional animation at Disney in favor of computer animation. I believe there is room for both types. Hand drawn animation can still be beautiful. Disney showed that themselves with Brother Bear and Treasure Planet, two very underappreciated movies.
Belle and Beast were the main characters in Beauty and the Beast. In many of the earlier animated movies from Disney, the male characters wouldnt be developed much. They were mainly around to just rescue the woman from someone or something. That wasnt the cast in this movie. Beast had a backstory while Belle didnt. Beast changed by the end of the movie and was a well rounded character. His actual name was never used and I did wonder what it was. Robby Benson provided Beasts speaking and singing voice. The voice fit the character, changing a bit as Beast changed. Belle was more independent than the female characters in some other Disney animated movies have been. She loved to read and had ideas about all kinds of things which made the other people in the village say she was odd. Belle didnt need to be rescued. Actually, if you think about it, Beast needed her to rescue him from the curse. If the curse would be broken or not depended completly on Belle. Paige OHara provided Belles speaking and singing voice.
Gaston was the villain, wanting Belle just because she was pretty. He was selfish, cruel, and shallow, only thinking of himself. He even came up with a plan he thought would force Belle to marry him. Lefou was basically Gastons flunky, doing whatever he was told. Belles father Maurice was called crazy because he invented unique things that didnt always work. Belles mother wasnt around and there was no explanation for why she wasnt there. It has been common in many Disney animated movies for the main characters mother to missing. Lumiere and Cogsworth had been servants when the curse was put into effect. Lumiere was more laid back than Cogsworth, though both, along with the rest of the servants, wanted the curse to be lifted. The two had little disagreements, but it was clear that they did like each other. Mrs. Potts and her son Chip were the only other members of the staff that were really shown very much. All of these characters sang at least once. All of the voices matched the characters very well.
Robby Benson - Beast
Jesse Corti - Lefou
Rex Everhart - Maurice
Angela Lansbury - Mrs. Potts
Paige OHara - Belle
Jerry Orbach - Lumiere
Bradley Michael Pierce - Chip
David Ogden Stires - Cogsworth
Richard White - Gaston
Directed by Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise
Special Edition DVD
Beauty and the Beast was the second Disney animated movie to receive a platinum edition on DVD consisting of a two disc set. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was the first. The video and audio quality was remastered for the DVD. I did notice one audio thing that had been fixed from the VHS version I watched so many times. A new musical sequence featuring the song Human Again was added, making the special edition version a few minutes longer. I read that the song was intended to be in the original version but was cut. There are three versions of the movie included on the DVD. The versions include the original theatrical version, the special edition, and a work in progress edition that was shown at a film festival before final production on the movie was complete. The two discs feature many special features that delve into different aspects of how the movie was made. There are also games included and a music video with Peabo Bryson and Celine Dion. This DVD gave the movie a wonderful treatment and every fan of the movie should own it.
Beauty and the Beast has become one of the most loved animated movies ever with good reason. It was the first, and as far as I know, still only animated movie to be nominated for the Best Picture Oscar. It won a Golden Globe for best musical or comedy. It has also been turned into a very popular Broadway musical. Beauty and the Beast is truly an animation masterpiece that everyone should see.
Animated Movie Reviews
The Emperor's New Groove ~ Sleeping Beauty ~ Lilo & Stitch ~ Treasure Planet ~ Brother Bear ~ Home on the Range ~ Valiant ~ Chicken Little ~ Monsters, Inc. ~ Finding Nemo ~ The Incredibles ~ Ice Age ~ Robots ~ Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas ~ Shrek ~ Shrek 2 ~ Shark Tale ~ Madagascar ~ Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit ~ Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius ~ The Polar Express ~ Looney Tunes: Back in Action ~ Tim Burton's Corpse Bride ~
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