Just consider for a moment that this film was nominated for an Oscar among other wonderful films of its day, such as Silence of The Lambs, Terminator 2, Hook and even JFK. Now that is rare for animation... This is pivotal in itself for so often in the past, the animated film has been considered expendable amongst the recognition of live action films. Beauty and The Beast broke that mould however with its throwback to the glory days of traditional Disney animation. The film does not try to be clever, nor does it hold any sophisticated meaning apart from one simple truth; that love can prevail when one looks beyond appearance. How fitting it is then that our protagonist 'Belle', the young book lover and son of an inventor, is at first horrified by the appearance of the ghastly Beast, living alone in his gloomy (yet enchanted!) castle - yet once she see's beyond the cover, the contents is undoubtedly loveable.
This is only half the value of the movie, for the soundtrack lends itself as an important motive to the films enjoyment. Every single song from the film is memorable both in lyric and melody, making it all the more sad that the lyricist Howard Ashman passed away before the movie was even released. It's also challenging to say that much of Beauty and The Beast's music is more emotionally captivating than many of the studio's efforts beforehand. This is no fluke - it was a need and a wanting to return to importance of sound within animation.
'Diamond Edition' - Disney's latest blurb for their hand-picked movies that they consider to the studio's finest, though I would argue this entirely given that 'Fantasia' was dropped from the line only earlier this year (for some reason...), and that itself was pivotal in movie history. Needless, Beauty and The Beast has had possibly Disney's best ever treatment. Not only do you get a nice selection of extra features on the movie discs (both Blu-Ray and DVD), but the package as usual has yet another Blu-Ray disc dedicated to extras - so many that the back of the case can't fit them all. A week of owning this product has not been enough to join Lumiere in the virtual-castle and seek all the extra features that are on offer. Disney have frankly pulled out all the stops here, and it doesn't disappoint in any single way.
On a note of Disc formats, a few people are confused about the whole 'Double Play' description and what you get with the product. This is made all the worse because Disney, in a vein attempt to move people to Blu-Ray, have released the exact same product only in a DVD case. Essentially, the disc layout is the following, and this applies to ALL Diamond/Platinum Editions;
1 x Blu-Ray [Movie Disc, With Extras]
1 x DVD [Movie Disc, With *limited* Extras]
1 x Blu-Ray [Extras Disc - "Bonus Material"]
Therefore, PLEASE be aware that the dedicated "Bonus Material" is a Blu-Ray, NOT a DVD. If you want just a DVD only product, you will have to wait until it is released;Beauty and the Beast [DVD
On a final note, 'Double Play' simply means that the FILM can be played in both Blu-Ray and DVD formats within that product. Furthermore, a 'Triple Play' product means you get a Blu-Ray, DVD and Digital copy of the film to watch in that product. I know, it's all rather uncalled for and I have sympathy for those who are confused to find the alternative 'DVD Packaging' of the same product in the DVD section of high-street stores.
Picture quality needs very little mention, essentially because the film itself was mastered on digital files, and therefore does not require the same 35mm film scanning that older Disney films require from Lowry Digital. However, it will look dramatically different. The colour timing has been shifted away from any release seen before and into, what was stated, the "intended palette', meaning even the theatrical release never looked this good. Background paintings are stable and lush, revealing gorgeous water-colour detail. The animation is pin-sharp, itself revealing all the original pencil lines. It's as pristine as it will ever look. The sound also benefits Blu-Ray for the lossless format booms with emotion, just increasing that dynamic range and giving the Beast a menacing growl, while the music pierces the top ends.
Presented in a glorious slip-case and intuitive menu system, Beauty and The Beast has reached the treatment it deserves. With bags of humor and lessons of love, it is truly the ultimate family film and couldn't have been released at a better time. There is just something so majestic about this film that, as Belle and Beast dance through the Ball-Room and the camera tracks down from the ceiling, it is obvious animation can go beyond what live action may offer - possibly even touching the viewer and placing them in that very scene, such is the beauty of the artwork and relationship to the title song 'Beauty and The Beast'. It was just the right film at the right time.