Friday, November 22, 1991

Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast was a film that I saw only a few times as a child. I enjoyed it to an extent, but was too young to appreciate the surprisingly nuanced tale.

A few months ago, I watched the final scene from B&B as a school assignment to compare the Disney film with earlier versions of the story. I was completely shocked at just how much powerful emotion was contained within the tale that I thought I knew so well. As I and the rest of my Literature classmates examined the details of the different versions of B&B, one fact became clear: this was perhaps the only example of a Disney film that far surpassed the original version of the tale, as well as nearly every other story of its kind.

Disney's Beauty and the Beast has many levels of irony and conflict that do not appear in the original story. While the characters in Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont's well-known "original" version of the tale are straightforward and mostly unwavering, this film's characters are deeper and go through realistic development. Unlike The Little Mermaid, in which the primary relationship was based on a simple crush (although seemingly fated), Beauty and the Beast strives to create a real relationship that grows from mutual resentment to selfless love. There is perhaps no better example in the vast Disney Classics library of a deep, growing relationship. That's quite an impressive feat, considering that nearly all of those films are reliant upon a love story.

From a technical perspective, this film is amazing. This is the first Disney animated film to be produced entirely using CAPS, and it shows. Unlike The Little Mermaid, which was filled with film grain and other visual problems, Beauty and the Beast is visually clean and sharp, standing up even to today's visual standards. The computer-generated effects that are used in the film blend perfectly with the hand-drawn animation style, never diverting the audience's attention.

The music in B&B is among Disney's finest. Every song in the film is both enjoyable and important, revealing and reinforcing important character traits. There are even specific musical cues that, when taken in context with each other across the plot of the film, reveal hidden details of the characters' inner thoughts.

Every single aspect of Beauty and the Beast is of the highest quality. Visually, it is amazing. Musically, it is astounding. In its entirety, it is animated mastery.
Anyone and everyone should see this film at some point in their life.