Beauty and the Beast (DVD, 2002, 2-Disc Set, Special Edition / Spanish Language Version)

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"there may be something there that wasn't there before" - Beauty and the Beast

Feb 27, 2011 (Updated Feb 27, 2011)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:a captivating love story with gorgeous animation, voice acting, and musical numbers

Cons:-

The Bottom Line: The Beauty and the Beast Diamond Edition is a magnificent presentation of one of the best films of all time, animated or otherwise.


A magical telling of a "tale as old as time," Disney's Beauty and the Beast is capable of enchanting viewers of any age.

The film begins with a stained glass-illustrated prologue as an unseen narrator (David Ogden Stiers, who also voices Cogsworth) tells the story of a selfish young prince (Robby Benson) who, upon repeatedly denying shelter to a haggard beggar woman, is cursed by the beggar, who transforms into an enchantress.  She turns the prince into a monstrous-looking beast and grants him a rose which will bloom until his twenty-first birthday.  If the prince can learn to love and earn the love of another, the spell will be broken.  If not, he is doomed to remain a beast forever.

A few years later, Maurice, a small town inventor, gets lost on his way to a fair and stumbles across the Beast's castle, where he meets the Beast's former servants, themselves cursed as a result of the spell, turned into normally inanimate objects such as a clock, a footstool, and forks.  The objects, including the candelabra Lumiere (Jerry Orbach) and the teapot Mrs. Potts (Angela Lansbury), are delighted at the prospect of a guest and welcome Maurice.  The Beast, however, is less welcoming and throws Maurice in a cold cell to rot.

Belle (Paige O'Hara), the inventor's daughter and the most beautiful girl in her "small provincial town," makes her way to the castle and bargains with the Beast to save her father.  In exchange for Maurice's freedom, Belle will remain in the castle with the Beast forever.  Realizing that Belle may be the one who will break the curse, the household objects aid the Beast in learning to control his temper and find love with Belle.

Beast: I want to do something for her... but what?
Cogsworth: Well, there's the usual things: flowers, chocolates, promises you don't intend to keep.

The movie is primarily the story of Belle and the Beast, and the development of their romance is captivating.  Simple scenes, such as Belle's finding a way to compromise as the two share a meal, are capable of melting the coldest of hearts.  The supporting characters, from an over-the-top wardrobe to the silent but expressive horse Philippe, are absolutely delightful, adding humor to the rather serious proceedings.  Gaston's boorishness provides comic moments early on (he warns Belle of the dangers of a woman reading - "Soon she starts getting ideas, and thinking."  When Belle tells him he is primeval, he replies, "Why, thank you, Belle!").  All of the enchanted objects are wonderful, and the banter between Lumiere and Cogsworth is especially fun.

The voice acting by all involved is excellent, and it's easy to forget we're watching an animated movie.  The characters are beautifully drawn, and the camera is not static, but instead soars in and out, showcasing gorgeous landscapes, backgrounds, and realistic-looking elements such as pouring rain.

The songs, written by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, are marvelous, memorable and easy to sing along with, while also advancing the storyline and adding insight to the characters and their inner feelings.  "Belle" introduces our heroine, establishing her desire for more than her small town has to offer, the conceited Gaston's plan to make her his wife, and the townspeople's apprehension about her (she is intelligent and likes to read, which makes her different from them).  "Gaston" is hilarious, a boastful song about Gaston's superiority to everyone and everything ("No one plots like Gaston/ Takes cheap shots like Gaston/ Plans to persecute harmless crackpots like Gaston"). 

The Lumiere-led "Be Our Guest" is wonderful, one of the most energetic and exuberant moments in the film.  In the beautiful "Something There," Belle and the Beast sing about the feelings they're developing for each other.  The "Beauty and the Beast" sequence is spellbinding, with Mrs. Potts singing the title song as Belle and the Beast share a ballroom dance.  "The Mob Song" illustrates the dangerous mob mentality of the weak-minded townspeople - "We don't like what we don't understand/ In fact, it scares us, and this monster is mysterious at least."

Beauty and the Beast has been recently re-released in a Diamond Edition, available as a two-disc DVD set or a three-disc Blu Ray/DVD combo pack.  For those who have a Blu Ray player, the upgrade is worth the extra few dollars.  The film is cleaned up, restored, and noticeably colorful and vibrant, with crystal clear audio.  The number of films I own on Blu Ray is very small, but this is one where I can really tell the difference. 

The first disc contains three versions of the movie: the original theatrical version, the work in progress storyboard print originally screened at the New York Film Festival, and the expanded version containing a new song ("Human Again," sung by the enchanted objects) and a deleted scene where Belle teaches the Beast to read.  In case you want to watch the film a fourth or fifth time, there's also a sing-along version (song lyrics appear on the screen) and an audio commentary track featuring directors Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale, producer Don Hahn, and composer Alan Menken. 

The disc also contains two deleted scenes which are not integrated into the feature, as they are not fully animated: an alternate opening and an extended library scene.  In the featurette "Composing a Classic,"  Menken discusses the process of creating the film's music.  "Broadway Beginnings" is a featurette on the Broadway play adaptation, with discussion from many of the cast members, including Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Danny Osmond, and Christy Carlson Romano.  The disc closes with a music video of Jordin Sparks' disappointing rendition of the title song.

Disc two boasts a comprehensive documentary on the making of the film, entitled "Beyond Beauty."  It's available to watch straight through, with the ability to click for more information on certain topics.  Two interactive games and a port-over of the special features from the DVD release round out the disc.  Finally, disc three is the standard DVD version.  It's an excellent package for those who are thinking of getting a Blu Ray player or for those who have a Blu Ray player in one room and a DVD in the other.  Whether you choose the DVD or Blu Ray version, the Beauty and the Beast Diamond Edition is a magnificent presentation of one of the best films of all time, animated or otherwise.


Recommend this product? Yes

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