The film that officially signalled Disney's animation renaissance and the only animated feature to receive a Best Picture Oscar nomination, Beauty and the Beast
remains the yardstick by which all other animated films should be measured. It relates the story of Belle, a bookworm with a dotty inventor for a father; when he inadvertently offends the Beast (a prince whose heart is too hard to love anyone besides himself), Belle boldly takes her father's place, imprisoned in the Beast's gloomy mansion. Naturally, Belle teaches the Beast to love. What makes this such a dazzler, besides the amazingly accomplished animation and the winning coterie of supporting characters (the Beast's mansion is overrun by quipping, dancing household items) is the array of beautiful and hilarious songs by composer Alan Menken and the late, lamented lyricist Howard Ashman, (winning the 1991 Oscar for Best Song and Menken's score won a trophy as well). The downright funniest song is "Gaston", a lout's paean to himself (including the immortal line, "I use antlers in all of my de-co-ra-ting"). "Be Our Guest" is transformed into an inspired Busby Berkeley homage. Since Ashman's passing, animated musicals haven't quite reached the same exhilarating level of wit, sophistication and pure joy. --David Kronke, Amazon.com
On the DVD: Beauty and the Beast's regular DVD release still offers some special features, but doesn't hold a candle to the Collector's Edition. The "making-of" featurette is informative charting the production from Walt Disney's original idea to the final musical version. "The Story Behind the Story" shows the origins of many of Disney's adapted fairy tales. The two games are fun, if a little slow to load. Celine Dion's original video is slightly on the dull side, but Jump 5's remixed version of "Tale as Old as Time" is just ridiculous. As always the sing-along track is great fun for all budding Belles or Beasts in the house. The transfer is as pristine as could be expected from a 1991 release.
On the DVD: Beauty and the Beast's two-disc Collector's Edition really is the stuff of fairy tales. Disc 1 has three versions of the movie, the best being the "Work in Progress" edition which offers the unfinished film, sketch lines and all. The theatrical cut has a pristine transfer and the sound is immaculate. The director's commentary relies on a lot on name-dropping and you'll find more interesting insight in the "making-of" feature on the second disc. The sing-a-long track (as with all Disney releases) is fantastic, particularly for such a well-loved score.
Disc 2 is packed full of information, fun and games. The best of the informative features is "Animation Magic", an intelligent look into the production of Disney cartoons. In the games section you'll need to head straight for the West Wing to continue an adventure with Chip (Tip: finish the game "Maurice's Workshop" first), but get your fingers warmed up as it needs a little remote control action. This disc only really falls down on the slowness of some of its games and the appalling remix video of "Tale as Old as Time". --Nikki Disney
Disney animated version of the classic fairy tale. When a prince is turned into a hideous beast by a magical spell, he finds that the only way out of his predicament is to win the love of the beautiful Belle. Belle agrees to come and stay at his home in exchange for the freedom of her father, whom the Beast had previously captured. At first she is repulsed by his hideous features, but as time passes she learns to recognise his true inner beauty.
Beauty and the Beast, is a lovely Disney film on VHS.