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Beauty and the Beast (1991)

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This article is about the 1991 animated film. You may be looking for the 2017 live-action/CGI remake with the same name.

This page is dedicated to songwriter Howard Ashman (May 17, 1950 – March 14, 1991), who tragically died of AIDS before he could see the film's glory.

           National Film Registry logo vector.svg *

This film has been preserved in the National Film Registry in 2002.

Beauty and the Beast
Beautybeastposter.jpg
"Ma chere mademoiselle. It is with deepest pride and greatest pleasure that we welcome you tonight. And now, we invite to relax, let us pull up a chair, as the dining room proudly presents... your dinner." -Lumiere
Genre: Animation
Musical
Fantasy
Romance
Directed By: Gary Trousdale
Kirk Wise
Written By: Linda Woolverton
Starring: Paige O'Hara
Robby Benson
Richard White
Jerry Orbach
David Ogden Stiers
Angela Lansbury
Rex Everhart
Jesse Corti
Distributed By: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution
Release Date: September 29, 1991 (New York Film Festival)
November 22, 1991 (United States)
Runtime: 84 minutes
Country: United States


Beauty and the Beast is a 1991 American animated musical romantic fantasy film produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and released by Walt Disney Pictures. The 30th Disney animated feature film and the third released during the Disney Renaissance period, it is based on the French fairy tale of the same name by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont who was uncredited in the English version but credited in the French version, and ideas from the 1946 French film of the same name directed by Jean Cocteau.

Plot

An arrogant young prince (Robby Benson) and his castle's servants fall under the spell of a wicked enchantress, who turns him into the hideous Beast until he learns to love and be loved in return. The spirited, headstrong village girl Belle (Paige O'Hara) enters the Beast's castle after he imprisons her father Maurice (Rex Everhart). With the help of his enchanted servants, including Lumiere, Cogsworth and the matronly Mrs. Potts (Angela Lansbury), Belle begins to draw the cold-hearted Beast out of his isolation.

Why It's A Tale As Old As Time

  1. It has beautifully stunning animation that's gloriously hand-drawn as well as the fantastically painted backgrounds. The main stand-out is Belle and The Beast's dance sequence that has amazing CGI that fits perfectly with the hand-drawn animation. Something to be expected when it comes to Disney movies, especially ones from their renaissance era. Not to mention how this film had a grand total of 600 animators and artists alike working on it for 4 years, so of course it looks amazing.
  2. Very excellent characterization for every single character in the film.
    • Belle is a fun-loving action girl who cares deeply for those around her. This is first evident when she decides to surrender herself to the Beast and make herself a prisoner in his castle in exchange for him letting her father go. Her kindness towards the Beast eventually proves to be enough to convince him to change his ways and become a better person.
    • The Beast himself was originally a spoiled and arrogant prince who was cursed into taking a monster-like form after proving his selfishness to a disguised enchantress asking for shelter from a storm. After isolating himself in his castle from the rest of the world, he had given up on hope of ever turning back into a human, but Belle's kindness changes his heart, and eventually is what brings him back from his transformed state.
    • Belle's father Maurice, while he doesn't receive as much focus or exploration as Belle of Beast, is still a likable character. What truly makes him more than just the typical "bumbling father" that's already been done to death (even before the release of this movie) is the fact that he's a great source of Belle's motivation as a character.
  3. It has wonderful vocal performances from Paige O' Hara as Belle, Richard White as Gaston, Robby Benson as the Beast, and David Ogden Stiers as Cogsworth and the Narrator.
  4. Gaston is a very good villain, who actually doesn't start out as a villain, but becomes one since he's used to getting what he wants. As in the beginning of the movie, he's just a typical tough guy and a spoiled handsome man who hates books but wants to marry Belle. After discovering that she had fallen in love with the Beast, he recruits an army of civilians to storm the castle and kill the Beast after convincing them all that he was nothing more than a vicious, blood-thirsty monster. It's also worth noting that he actually almost wins in the end after stabbing Beast in the back, killing him at first, but ultimately falls to his death shortly after.
    • LeFou is Gaston's tragic and funny henchmen.
  5. All of the main characters in the film have very interesting character developments. Gaston acts a double side of the coin for Beast: the Beast is hideous, and Gaston is handsome. When the Beast becomes kinder and nicer, Gaston becomes more and more evil.
  6. It has astoundingly written songs like
    • "Beauty and the Beast", generally recognized as the film's main theme, is what truly displays how much Belle and Beast's relationship has grown over the course of the movie. It specifically addresses how it has managed to transform them, allowing their friendship (and later, love) to grow as Lumiere, Cogsworth, and Chip watch on. It is later reprised during the final dance.
    • "Be Our Guest" may not be a song with a huge amount of symbolism in the context of the story or foreshadowing to later events in the movie, but it's still incredibly enjoyable, memorable, and an easy earworm.
    • Gaston's song is catchy, egotistical, and perfectly established Gaston's character as a spoiled handsome man even better than it had already been earlier in the movie. No one truly does make a catchy villain song like Gaston!
    • "Something There" is the movie's love song for the relationship between Belle and Beast. Emphasizing how Belle sees something in Beast that no one else does, and recognizes that he's more than just the hideous monster that everybody thought he was.
    • "Belle", the opening song, is a French and classical-inspired song that incorporates musical elements from both the Broadway and musical theater genres.
    • It also has a lovely score perfectly orchestrated by Alan Menken.
  7. Angela Lansbury's (aka Mrs. Potts) rendition of "Beauty and the Beast" is nothing short of phenomenal and beautiful. In fact, she managed to perform the entire song in just one take and moved the recording studio to tears.
  8. The DVD/Blu-Ray versions contain the deleted song "Human Again", if you're more interested in the film's extended cut than the original.
  9. The scene where the Beast is killed by Gaston is very emotional, despite the film being rated G, albeit it didn't last long due to Belle's true love for the Beast being able to not just revive him, but also turn him back into a human. However, the scene itself with Belle crying over the Beast's body and declaring her love for him was still absolutely heartbreaking and enough to reduce many audience members to tears.

Bad Qualities

  1. Major plot holes:
    • We see that Mrs. Potts has other children in the film, but at the end of the film when the curse is lifted, we only see Chip turn back into human, and we never see or know the fate of his siblings.
    • In the scene where the Beast faints right after he protects Belle from a wolf attack, she then covers him, so that he doesn’t freeze to death. But in the next shot, we see the injured Beast magically lying across Belle’s horse. How the heck did Belle managed to lift the giant Beast off the ground all by herself? This plot hole was essentially fixed in the 2017 live action remake.
    • The story of Beast’s curse is that while he was still a prince, it's stated that he was cursed by the enchantress when he was 11, 10 years prior to the film’s events, and that the rose would bloom when he turned 21, which is also subtly hinted by Lumiere during the song "Be Our Guest" via the lyrics "Ten years we've been rusting/Needing so much more than dusting". But recalling the prince’s portrait which showed the Beast when he was still human, it shows a grown adult and not an 11 year old boy, which confuses many people to this day.
  2. The very beginning of the film can be scary for younger viewers. The eerie music combined with the stained glass pictures, while both beautiful things when you're an adult, can also make kids too frightened from wanting to watch this movie at all.
  3. The Beast's first full appearance when he furiously confronts and drags away Maurice for trespassing in his castle. This scene can also frighten young viewers.
  4. Lumiere (as a redheaded human) and some of the background male villagers wore some different period costumes, which is quite inconsistent to fit the 18th century setting of this film.

Reception

Beauty and the Beast was met with widespread critical acclaim toward its romantic narrative, animation (particularly the ballroom scene), characters and musical numbers.

Review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film an approval rating of 94% based on reviews from 117 critics, with an average rating of 8.53/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Enchanting, sweepingly romantic, and featuring plenty of wonderful musical numbers, Beauty and the Beast is one of Disney's most elegant animated offerings." The film also holds a 95/100 on Metacritic, which indicates the reviews as "universal acclaim".

Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film a rare "A+" grade. Along with The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast ranks as one of the best movies that came out of the Disney Renaissance. Beauty and the Beast was selected for preservation at the National Film Registry in 2002. Famed critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert awarded the film a "two thumbs up".

Box office

During its initial release in 1991, the film grossed $145.9 million in revenues in North America and $331.9 million worldwide.

Awards

At the 64th Academy Awards, Beauty and the Beast became the first animated film to get a nomination for Best Picture. It also received multiple nominations for Best Original Song for "Be Our Guest", "Belle", and "Beauty and the Beast", with the latter winning the award.

At the Golden Globes, the film won in three categories, including Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy.

Videos

Trivia

  • This film is based on a French fairy tale by novelist Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve published in 1740.
  • This is the first animated feature film to ever be nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award.
  • A crew of 600 animators and artists spent four years drawing and painting the film.
  • For the ballroom scene, traditional animation of the characters was laid on top of computer animation of the ballroom to achieve the sweeping camera movements.
  • This film was the second collaboration on a Disney film between composer Alan Menken and lyricist Howard Ashman. Their first was The Little Mermaid and they had previously collaborated on the Little Shop of Horrors musical.
    • Howard Ashman died during production of the film, hence the film is dedicated to his memory. Near the end of the film's ending credits, there is a tagline dedicated to him, reading: To our friend, Howard, Who gave a mermaid her voice And a beast his soul, We will be forever grateful. Howard Ashman 1950-1991.
  • The Oscar–winning original song – “Beauty and the Beast” – was recorded by Angela Lansbury (Mrs. Potts) only once. She thought someone else would ultimately sing it in the finished film, but her single recording is what remained.
  • The tale had been adapted for film a number of times before Disney did their animated version. One of the most notable versions is from French director Jean Cocteau and is called La Belle et le Bete.

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