Widely revered as one of the best animations to come out of the Disney empire, Beauty and the Beast continues to wow audiences over twenty years on since its original release.
The story is timeless – a young prince is transformed into a terrifying beast after he shows no compassion to someone in need. He is given a rose that signals the time he has left to amend his sins – if he doesn’t find true love’s kiss before its last petal falls he, along with his transformed staff (which includes the brilliant Lumiere and Cogsworth), will never be human again. He meets Belle, who suffers the less than amorous affections of Gaston, by chance after he imprisons her father Maurice when he takes a wrong turn in the woods. Will cupid strike in time?
Winning a Best Picture award at the 1991 Golden Globes Beauty and the Beast‘s animation is breath-taking. As well as utilising all the tricks in Disney’s animation arsenal, the film incorporates imaginative use of CGI to heighten the visual dynamics of the film. The musical number ‘Be Our Guest’ offers a dazzling array of colours and styles that are sure to impress even the most hardy of viewers whilst the film’s finale is dramatic.
The film’s songs are some of the finest produced by Disney – impressively there’s only five minutes of film without music. Classics include ‘Something There’, the titular ‘Beauty and the Beast’, ‘Gaston’ and the late addition ‘Human Again’. Firm favourites with children and adults alike, the songs complement the storyline perfectly making the fairytale even more enchanting.
The actors who lend their voices to the film offer great performances; the late Jerry Orbach shines as the chandelier Lumiere whilst ‘Murder She Wrote”s Angela Lansbury provides a motherly warmth to the perkiness of Bradley Pierce’s Chip. Paige O’Hara cried real tears whilst recording Belle’s reaction to the film’s emotional final scene and such emotion is paramount to the film’s engulfing story. Robby Benson’s voice was impressively mixed with real animal growls and snarls to create Beast’s recognisable voice.
Thanks to its brilliance many think of Beauty and the Beast as one of the greatest love stories told on the silver screen. Such testament means that it’s not just one for the kids – the production, as well as the comedy, can be admired by all ages.
Best bit: The glorious dancing scene.
Best song: ‘Be Our Guest’.
Patrick Stewart almost voiced Cogsworth – unfortunately it clashed with his scheduling for ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation.’
It has been revealed that the Beast’s real name is… Prince Adam.