I should start off by saying that if this article seems incredibly biased, it’s because this is my favorite Disney film of all time! Not only am I in love with it, but many people around the world are as well! It was part of the Disney Renaissance; it was the first animated film to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards; it had many spin-offs from direct-to-video sequels to TV shows to a musical to a live-action remake. I’m, of course, talking about Beauty and the Beast.
Released in 1991, Beauty and the Beast tells the classic fairy tale of a beautiful woman taken prisoner by a prince cursed to be a Beast who has to learn to love and be loved in return. The Disney studios had tried making a Beauty and the Beast film early on in the 30’s and 50’s but gave up when they just couldn’t get the story to work. So what is it about the 1991 film that makes it a masterpiece? Well, multiple things:
First off, the story is a relatable one. We all love a good romantic story, especially one where the two characters don’t love each other at first. But this story goes one step further: it shows us that we can’t brush off people so quickly! What may seem ugly and unattractive on the outside might actually be incredibly beautiful on the inside! And many of us who deal with insecurities and consider ourselves “ugly” (be it externally or internally), get a sense of hope from this film that we can find someone to love us in life!
Secondly, the characters are unique! Belle is the curious, adventure-seeking, unselfish princess. The Beast is the apparent “bad guy” with a good heart. Gaston is the arrogant, pompous, and even likable hunter. Lumiere is the amorous, welcoming, musical candelabra. Cogsworth is the no-nonsense, strict, but kindhearted clock. Mrs. Potts is the cheery, inviting, caring teapot. And the list goes on and on!
Thirdly, another thing that makes the characters unique is their impeccable voice acting! All the voice actors in this film do amazing jobs portraying their characters from Paige O’Hara to Robby Benson to Richard White to Angela Lansbury, etc. All the voice actors even sing their own parts which is another impressive feat!
Speaking of songs, let’s move on to the fourth point about this movie: the music! Since this film was part of the Disney Renaissance, it took on the characteristics of the Disney musical. With the score and lyrics being done by the legendary Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, the songs have become embedded into many of our memories and hearts. Three of them (“Be Our Guest”, “Belle”, and “Beauty and the Beast”) were even nominated for the Academy Award for Best Song, with the title song winning the award. The film also won the Academy Award for Best Score.
Lastly, the animation of the film is breathtakingly gorgeous as the Disney Renaissance films were at the time! One particular noticeable feat was the creation and inclusion of the CAPS system, a computer animation system that was used to animate the famous ballroom dancing scene in the film!
Basically, if you haven’t seen this film yet, be our guest and check it out! (Hurry before the remake comes out next year!)
What’s your thoughts on Beauty and the Beast? Classic? Overrated?
Edited by: Kelly Conley