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Beauty and the Beast - Blu-ray Review

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Beauty and the Beast

5 stars

Timeless is one of the many adjectives you could use to describe.  Beautiful is another.  There is a soul-stirring joy that washes over a person while watching Walt Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.  Perhaps because this is a movie that demands your attention, sole kid’s animated film it is not.  Not with emotions this deep and pure.  And all because of the “gift” of a rose, thus is the magical territory of what is now known as Disney’s 10-year renaissance period.

Inspired by the fairy tale La Belle et la Bête by Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont, Disney re-imagines the narrative as a bit of a human tragedy that hinges on the vanity of a young prince who is cursed after refusing the gift of a rose from an “ugly” enchantress.  Horribly disfigured into a beast, the young prince (voiced by Robby Benson) must spend the rest of his days in seclusion and somehow find a way for a woman to love him for the way he looks before the curse can be lifted.

Book-loving Belle (Paige O'Hara) spends her days thumbing through novel after novel and dreams of a better place for her outside of the town she has been raised in by her aging inventor father, Maurice (Rex Everhart).  Each day she refuses the advances of selfish Gaston (Richard White) and follows her own heart because of her desire for adventure and need to be understood.  Then, unexpectedly, her father goes missing – held against his will in the exiled prince’s castle – and Belle, in a bout of self-sacrifice, offers herself to the Beast in exchange for her father’s release.  Thus, their awkward romance is begun while Gaston feels it his duty to kill Belle’s captor and, eventually, her one true love.

With vocal talents that include Jerry Orbach, David Ogden Steirs, Angela Lansbury, and Jesse Corti, Beauty and the Beast is almost all musical and the numbers – written by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken – fly by with an effervescent energy that is characteristically Disney and, without reservation, worthy of its Best Picture nomination.  While it wouldn’t win that year (the award went to Silence of the Lambs), there was much bravado behind the move to even consider an animated film as a Best Picture contender.  Nowadays, we expect it.  Then, something like that was simply unheard of.

The film continues to work and inspire imaginations – male and female alike – due to the classic touches of animation and filmmaking that it hearkens back to.  There’s nothing too flashy about it, yet it includes all the ingredients that serve the best dishes for adults and children.  And, after all, there is strong argument out there that suggests hand drawn animation is indeed mightier than the computer.

Beauty and the Beast - Blu-ray Review

A careful look at Beauty and the Beast will reveal that Disney writer Linda Woolverton is making a bit of a statement with the character of Belle.  No longer will the female stereotypes of a typical Disney character be tolerated; this is new territory.  Belle is a bit of a feminist and, being as such, she will insert her own opinion and not be forced to do as the men wish her to do.  Of course, this determination makes the banter and play between Belle and the Beast so delightful and sharply engaging.  Never is there a dull moment.  Never.

With songs that will be stuck in your head for a lifetime (“Be Our Guest” anybody?), Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is the cream of the proverbial crop.  It’s a classic film that is full of sound and infamous fury, yet what it signifies is a passion that extends further than the limits of its running time.

This is pure Disney magic.

{2jtab: Film Details}

Beauty and the Beast - Blu-ray ReviewMPAA Rating: G for General Audiences.
Director
: Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise
Writer: Linda Woolverton
Cast:
Paige O'Hara; Robby Benson; Jerry Orbach; David Ogden Stiers; Angela Lansbury
Genre: Family | Animated | Comedy
Tagline:
The most beautiful love story ever told.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Well, there's the usual things: flowers... chocolates... promises you don't intend to keep..."
Distributor:
Buena Vista Pictures
Official Site:
http://disney.go.com/disneyvideos/animatedfilms/beauty/?cmp=dcom_VAN_WDSHE_BEA_van_batb__Extl
Release Date: November 13, 1991
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
October 5, 2011

Synopsis: Beauty and the Beast is a contemporary retelling of the classic French fairy tale. Once upon a time, there was a handsome but heartless prince, whose selfishness caused an enchantress to turn him into a hideous beast. He had only one hope for freedom: winning a woman's love despite his ugliness. The years passed; the Beast remained alone. Then one day, Maurice, a poor inventor, accidentally stumbled upon the Beast's lair. The angry Beast instantly swore to kill him -- until he saw Belle, Maurice's lovely daughter, who had come to to the palace to fight for her father's life. The Beast promised not to harm Maurice on one condition: Belle must stay with him. And so began Belle's lesson in the true meaning of beauty... a lesson that would bring her love and happiness ever after.

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Beauty and the Beast - Blu-ray Review

Component Grades
Movie
 
Blu-ray Disc
5 stars
 
5 Stars
     
Blu-ray Experience
5 stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - October 5, 2011
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English, English SDH, French, Spanish
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1; French: Dolby Digital 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Three-disc set (2 BDs, 1 DVD); DVD copy; Bonus View (PiP); BD-Live
Playback: Region free

The magic of Disney extends to this glorious 1080p treatment of Beauty and the Beast.  Disney has returned to the master and dusted it off for a meticulous restoration that leaves the film looking better than it ever has; even the ballroom sequence looks like it has a new coat of paint worthy of singing praises about.  With colors sharp and fine detail even sharper, Disney has outdone the original animators with a high-def transfer that is so beautiful it is damn near blinding.  Brief interruptions in some of the lines in the characters form are noticeable; now, that’s perfect imperfections.  Stunning job.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • Located on the Special Extended Edition of the movie, the commentary is provided by Producer Don Hahn and co-directors Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale.  Together, they talk unhesitatingly about how special the film is and the struggles they had in getting the film to work and flow as well as it does.  They also talk about the merging of hand drawn animation with computers and how they did and didn’t use it.

Special Features:

The Diamond Edition of Beauty and the Beast includes the 3D version of the film, the Special Extended edition, the Original Theatrical release, the Original Storyboard version, and Sing-Along version.  You also get the film on DVD and Digital Download.  The exhaustive supplementals are split between two discs and feature a generous amount of information and background material made before, during, and recently about the legacy and struggles of making the film.  In the Beyond Beauty feature, the entire film is deconstructed and reconstructed through sub-scenes and interactive features.  There are several interviews with Hahn, composer Alan Menken, and Disney historian Richard Kraft about the film, too.  With plenty of deleted scenes and storyboards and looks at how the film could have ended up, this is like unloading a pirate’s chest of hidden treasure.

  • Beyond Beauty (157 min)
  • Composing a Classic (20 min)
  • Deleted Scenes (28 min)
  • Broadway Beginnings (13 min)
  • New Music Video (3 min)
  • The Story Behind The Story (25 min)
  • 'Beauty and the Beast' Music Video (3 min)
  • Early Presentation Reel (35 min)
  • Enchanted Musical Challenge
  • Bonjour, Who Is This?
  • Sneek Peaks

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