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Movie Reviews

Beauty and the Beast



Released: October 9th 1991 (UK)

Director: Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise

Stars: Paige O’Hara, Robby Benson

Certificate: U (UK)

Reviewer: Luke Walkley

The Beauty and The Beast follows the beautiful Belle, whose father Maurice is imprisoned by the ‘Beast’ after stumbling into his castle on a long trip. In return for his freedom, she offers herself instead and the Beast accepts. During her time in the Beast’s castle, she learns of the enchanted nature of her surroundings and its’ inhabitants. The Beast cursed by an old witch who visited his castle 10 years ago,  must learn to love if he is to break the curse set on him before his 21st Birthday, but is Belle the person to help him overcome his selfish ways or can he never change?

Beauty and the Beast is considered as not only a classic animated film, but as one of the best films of a generation. The mix of memorable characters and fantastic story line create one of the greatest love stories ever told.

The Disney style of comedy is delivered mainly by Lumiere and Cogsworth, who under the curse set on the Beast, inhabit a Candlestick and Clock respectively. The back and forth between the two is fantastic and while they are fantastic in their own right they are but two of the fantastic supporting cast.

Angela Lansbury leant her voice to the gentle Mrs Potts who along with her son Chip spend their lives waiting and wishing to be useful once more. When Belle arrives they are in their element and thus setting up one of the films timeless songs ‘Be Our Guest’ one of three songs from the film nominated for the Academy award for ‘Best Song’.

The film’s entire score won the Oscar for ‘Best Original Score’ and thinking back it’s hard to think of any film, animated or not, that has so many fantastic songs in its soundtrack. The title track ‘Beauty and the Beast’ along with ‘Belle’ are two timeless classics. The sensational lyrics and music are still as fantastic 20 years later.

The main duo, Belle and the Beast have fantastic chemistry that is often lost in animated films. Without the risk of the acting, animated films can sometimes lose the emotion needed to portray a love story. However the conflict and the softer moments between the two are delivered to perfection.

Released in 1991, Beauty and the Beast was the first Disney film to utilise computer animation. The memorable ‘Ballroom’ scene was created using digital effects and the difference is stunning. The addition of the 3D really shines in this scene, backing up the opinion that 3D is far more effective when used on animations than live action films. The scenery is stunning, from the small town in which Belle lives to the dark gothic castle in which the Beast dwells. The French scenery and architecture is the perfect setting for each of the movies tones. The 3D provides vivid colours, while allowing the darker scenes to become clearer. The altered contrast does not affect the overall presentation, but allows more fine detail to be seen, that may have been overlooked before.

While the Beast is in essence the villain of the film, it is Gaston, the muscle bound ego-maniac obsessed with Belle that provides the main conflict and the films finale.

Disney maintains its ability to mix the darker aspects of a story with the light-heartedness that allows their movies to be accessible to all age groups. Beauty and the Beast is n no exception, the dark setting of the West Wing, of which Belle is forbidden to enter, goes hand in hand with the Beast’s persona. Essentially a metaphor for his selfish ways, the West  Wing contains the one object that sums up the Beast’s existence.

With Tangled and The Princess and the Frog returning to Disney’s classic formula, it isn’t hard to see why the company produces classic’s time and time again. This concept earned Beauty and the Beast the Best Picture nomination at the Academy Awards and, in the immortal words of Cogsworth ‘If it’s not Baroque, don’t fix it’

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