Saturday, January 8, 2011

Review: Walt Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" is Still Glorious Three Decades Later

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 2 (of 2011) by Leroy Douresseaux

Beauty and the Beast (1991)
Running time: 84 minutes (1 hour, 24 minutes)
DIRECTOR: Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise
WRITERS: Linda Woolverton; from a story by Brenda Chapman, Burny Mattinson, Brian Pimental, Joe Ranft, Kelly Asbury, Christopher Sanders, Kevin Harkey, Bruce Woodside, Tom Ellery and Robert Lence (based upon the story by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont)
EDITORS: John Carnochan with Bill Wilner
COMPOSER: Alan Menken
SONGS: Alan Menken and Howard Ashman
Academy Award winner


Starring: (voices) Paige O’Hara, Robby Benson, Richard White, Jerry Orbach, David Ogden Stiers, Angela Lansbury, Bradley Pierce, Rex Everhart, and Jesse Corti

Until a few days ago, I hadn’t watched the entirety of Walt Disney’s Beauty and the Beast in 19 years, and after enjoying it as much as I did recently, I can say that this tale did not grow old with time. Beauty and the Beast is still dazzling… and timeless.

Disney’s film is based on the fairy tale La Belle et la Bête by Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont and also takes a view elements from the 1946 French film based upon the same fairy tale. This animated take on a classic fairy tale is set in 18th century France and focuses on two characters.

First, there is Beast (Robby Benson). He was once a cold-hearted young prince transformed by an enchantress into a monster. Now, he is virtually a prisoner inside his forlorn castle. The second is Belle (Paige O’Hara), an unusual young woman who lives in nearby village with her inventor father, Maurice (Rex Everhart). Belle spends her days reading books and yearning for a life beyond her provincial village. She does have a suitor, Gaston (Richard White), a conceited local hero and fearsome hunter, but Belle has no interest in him.

When her father becomes the Beast’s prisoner, Belle offers herself in his place. Although she is cold and aloof to the Beast, Belle warms to his servants, a large group of magical, talking furniture and household times, including Lumière (Jerry Orbach), the candelabra and maître d’; Cogsworth (David Ogden Stiers), the clock and majordomo, and Mrs. Potts (Angela Lansbury), the teapot and head of the castle’s kitchens. They all hope that Belle falls in love with the Beast, because only love can unravel the curse that hangs over them and the castle. But time is running out!

Beauty and the Beast is a Broadway style musical like the 1989 Walt Disney animated feature, The Little Mermaid. Here the songs, music by Alan Menken and lyrics by the late Howard Ashman, both move the narrative forward and embellish the story’s mood and themes. In fact, the moods, emotions, and colors of the songs themselves are vivid and clear; on their own, they’re memorable numbers that will stay with you long after you’ve seen this movie.

The quality of the songs actually symbolizes everything that is terrific about this movie. The mix of hand-drawn animation and computer-generated imagery and computer-aided coloring blend seamlessly and do nothing to keep Beauty and the Beast from looking like it belongs with Disney’s animated classics of the past. The lush, sparkling colors and lavish set designs bring the fairytale to life and make it feel magical.

The fluid animation, the hallmark of Walt Disney animation (often described as creating the illusion of life) is clearly evident in this film. Combine that quality of animation with the excellent performances of the voice actors and the endearing characters not only spring to life; they are also hard to forget – even after 19 years. I am sure that I will continue to watch Beauty and the Beast, but this time I won’t wait so long to visit my friends again.

10 of 10

1992 Academy Awards: 2 wins: “Best Music, Original Score” (Alan Menken) and “Best Music, Original Song” (Alan Menken-music and Howard Ashman-lyrics for the song "Beauty and the Beast"); 4 nominations: “Best Picture” (Don Hahn), “Best Music, Original Song” (Alan Menken-music and Howard Ashman-lyrics for the song "Belle"), “Best Music, Original Song” (Alan Menken-music and Howard Ashman-lyrics for the song "Be Our Guest"), and “Best Sound” (Terry Porter, Mel Metcalfe, David J. Hudson, and Doc Kan)

1993 BAFTA Awards: 2 nominations: “Best Original Film Score” (Alan Menken and Howard Ashman) and “Best Special Effects” (Randy Fullmer)

1992 Golden Globes: 3 wins: “Best Motion Picture - Comedy/Musical, “Best Original Score - Motion Picture” (Alan Menken) and “Best Original Song - Motion Picture” (Alan Menken-music and Howard Ashman-lyrics for the song "Beauty and the Beast"); 1 nomination: “Best Original Song - Motion Picture” (Alan Menken-music and Howard Ashman-lyrics for the song "Be Our Guest")

Saturday, January 08, 2011


No comments:

Post a Comment