Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Walt Disney Animation Studios Part 30: Beauty and the Beast

Series Intro: This is Part 30 of a multi-part retrospective of Walt Disney Animation Studios' endeavors.

Official Title: Beauty and the Beast
Release: November 22, 1991
Running Time: 84 minutes
Estimated Cost: $25 million
Estimated Revenue: $377.35 million
Overall Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Plot Summary: Expanded
An introduction to the happenings of the Beast and his transformation by a hag is presented in stained glass. The prince turned an old woman away when she offered him a rose, but when she transformed into a beautiful woman, the enchantress curses the prince to be a beast and his servants into household objects. And only once the Beast learns to love and earns her love in return, will the spell be lifted.

In a golden age of Hollywood style, the camera pans across a “little town” in pre-industrial revolution France, as it follows a beautiful girl into the town. While there, Belle sings as she greets her neighbors on her trip to the bookshop. However, the entire town is singing about how she is odd (always reading, not interested in the hunky Gaston, and spending all her time with her father, the inventor, Maurice). She returns home to ask her father about being odd, while he is tinkering with his newest invention: a fire wood cutter.

When he successfully cuts the wood he loads up his cart and hitches the family horse, Philippe, to get to the fair. After being harassed by Gaston, Belle sings again about being different and wanting more from life than this small town.

Maurice gets lost and stumbles upon Beast’s castle, where he meets some of the enchanted servants (Lumière– the candelabra, and Cogsworth – a clock). Beast captures Maurice and throws him in the castle’s prison.

Philippe returns to Belle without Maurice and she goes to look for him. She finds her father locked in the dungeons and stands up to Beast as she offers her life imprisoned for her fathers. Beast and Belle fight for quite some time, especially about dinner that night.

Meanwhile, at the local tavern, Gaston and his lacky, Lefou, sing about how wonderful Gaston is, when Maurice comes in talking all crazy about the Beast. He gets thrown out of the inn and Gaston begins to form his evil plan. Maurice goes off to defeat the Beast himself.

Back at the castle, Belle enjoys a grand dinner and explores the castle until she is scared by Beast (for entering the forbidden wing) and runs away, needing to be save from wolves by Beast. Over the next few days, Belle and Beast become closer and the servants begin to believe that she will be the one to end the curse. This time includes the famous ballroom dancing scene.

But after sharing his magic mirror, Belle sees her father in trouble from exposure to the harsh winter, so Beast releases her, with the mirror. Belle rescues her father and returns them both to their home; where Lefou and Gaston attempt to take Maurice to the loony bin. But Belle sets the whole town straight by showing that the Beast is real, on his magic mirror. Gaston takes this opportunity to turn the mob against Beast and they storm the castle! The servants fight back, and save the castle. Gaston and Beast fight to the death on a high placed balcony. Just then Belle enters the scene and pulls Beast to safety, but Gaston stabs him right before falling to his death.

Belle announces her love for Beast just as he is about to die, just as the last petal from the rose that held the curse fell. Magic rain falls on the castle and transforms everything/one back to their former glory. Belle and Beast (no more) dance again to the applause of all of the servants and Maurice.

Songs:

• Belle
• Belle Reprise
• Gaston
• Gaston Reprise
• Be Our Guest
• Something There
• Beauty and the Beast
• Mob Song

What great music again! Bell, Be Our Guest and Beauty and the Beast would quickly enter the Disney cannon as great songs.

Plot Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

A smart princess who isn’t looking for love but finds it in a beastly place was a great change of pace from all the princesses so far. Belle and Beast truly represent a more realistic example of falling in love, as it takes time for them to get to know each other, first.

The servants, Lumière, Cogsworth, Mrs. Potts and Chip added a great human problem to the spell and this Disney villain, Gaston, was truly evil without the help of magic!

WDAS produced this movie in two years, versus the normal four years. This gave them the luxury of taking a lot of what was learned from Oliver and Mermaid to make a wonderful story. This movie also was the first animated feature to start with a script, as previous movies started with storyboards. I believe this (in combination with Ashman and Menken’s score) is what made this movie standout against the rest of WDAS’ movies.

Animation Rating: 4 out of 5

Back at the top of their game. Despite watching this on an almost 20 year old VHS copy of the movie, I was still able enjoy the rich details and vibrant colors (although they were much muter on this copy than movies that have been digitally restored). These bright colors are owed to the fact that all the painting was completed by computers, as were several scenes (such as the background of the ballroom, where Beast and Belle were hand drawn and then manipulated against the background). This was much cleaner then the CAPS from Down Under.

The Test of Time:

Belle became a spokesperson for reading. Beast has spawned two midqueals, a live action television series and a long running Broadway musical (which itself was the forerunner of the “Disney on Broadway” brand). Bell is a staple of the Disney Princess brand, although I think misguidedly so (see below).

Beast was nominated for many Oscars and won a few and many other awards. Including the hornor of being only one of two animated movies to be nominated for Best Picture (Up holds this honor too).

I saw this movie in theatres!

Through the Modern Lens

My problem with this film doesn’t lie with the fact that it is yet another princess film. Belle really isn’t your typical princess, waiting for her prince to come. Belle is an intelligent woman, not ruled by her emotions, but her logic. She is longing for something different (like Ariel) but not to change who she is, but just wanting more. Who can’t relate to that? Belle isn’t a princess in the standard terms, she doesn’t fall madly in love with the prince the first time she meets him; and actual doesn’t fall in love with him because he’s beautiful, but because his soul was gorgeous. She isn’t your princess’s princess. And I kind of feel bad for her that she is now left to hang out with Ariel, Cinderella, Brier Rose and Snow White who’s lives were all drastically changed once they were married.

Next Up:
Aladin













4 comments:

janice said...

An introduction to the happenings of the Beast and his transformation by a hag is presented in stained glass.

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Davenz said...

A smart princess who isn’t looking for love but finds it in a beastly place was a great change of pace from all the princesses so far.

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chum said...

Nominated for six Academy Awards including Best Picture, Beauty And The Beast is one of Disney's greatest animated achievements...

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chum said...

Beyond the bright colors and the sweet shimmering that captivate human hearts, overcoming armored minds, there's the story. Like all fairy tales, this too had gone through several variations during the three or five centuries of its life.

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