Disney’s Original Beauty and the Beast

  • Directed by Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise (Feature Directorial Debuts)
  • September 29, 1991 (NYFF) / November 13, 1991 (El Capitan Theatre) / November 22, 1991 (US)
  • Based on the 1756 fairy tale Beauty and the Beast by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont / 1946 French film Beauty and the Beast directed by Jean Cocteau

Voice Cast

  • Belle-Paige O’Hara
  • The Beast-Robby Benson
  • Gaston-Richard White
  • Lumière-Jerry Orbach
  • Cogsworth-David Ogden Stiers
  • Mrs. Potts-Angela Lansbury
  • Chip-Bradley Pierce
  • Maurice-Rex Everhart
  • LeFou-Jesse Corti
  • The Wardrobe-Jo Anne Worley
  • Philippe-Hal Smith
  • The Bimbettes-Mary Kay Bergman and Kath Soucie
  • Tom-Jack Angel
  • Dick-Phil Proctor
  • Stanley-Bill Farmer
  • Gramps-Patrick Pinney
  • The Stove-Brian Cummings
  • The Bookseller-Alvin Epstein
  • Monsieur D’Arque-Tony Jay
  • The Baker-Alec Murphy
  • The Featherduster-Kimmy Robertson
  • Sultan-Frank “I’m In Everything From Your Childhood” Welker

After being imprisoned in a castle a young woman learns that to break a curse a prince who was magically transformed into a monster must learn to love and earn that love in return before the last petal falls from an enchanted rose or else he will remain in his beastly form forever.

What happens when a young girl gets locked in a castle with an exceedingly hairy individual with serious anger management issues? She gets into the furry lifestyle and suffers a serious case of Stockholm Syndrome before changing her captor’s heart. All this and more in the wacky Disney Classic Beauty and the Beast!

Okay so maybe what happens in this film isn’t that goofy, but it is pretty darn close. But as with most Disney films you shouldn’t think too deeply about the story otherwise the movie might get a little ruined for you. After all Disney releases are generally adventure films or superficial romantic comedies and nothing too sophisticated.

The story of Beauty and the Beast is pretty thin. When you look at what they have to work with there is not very much. What helps it standout (aside from the animation) in large part is the music. “Be Our Guest”. “Gaston”. “Beauty and the Beast (Tale as Old as Time)”. All have stuck in the heads of viewers. “Beauty and the Beast (Tale as Old as Time)” in particular became a major hit. Add to that any of the other music in the film and it just gets your foot moving and is very catchy.

For her part the character of Belle is a much more developed and independent female character than previously seen in Disney animation. She is much more learned and independent in comparison to her predecessors. That also creates problems for her in the village in which she lives as they think she is strange and her mildly eccentric father is even stranger in their perception. But she is also the prettiest girl living there putting her squarely in the focus of the village jerk (and movie’s ultimate villain) Gaston who views her solely as a prize to be won rather than an individual to be loved.

Then there is Beast. Do they ever mention his real name here? I recall him being called “the Prince” or other words connected to having a royal title but never his given name. It was not until Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas that I remember learning his name. I am not sure if Belle calls him by his name yet they fall in love. Anywho…

Beauty and the Beast has a bit of a ticking clock plot element as Beast has been cursed with looking like a, well, beast because he was a jerk to a passing woman and once the petals fall off this magic rose he has he’s permanently screwed. It is introduced early on but lingers mostly in the background rather than being a front and center element.

This came about during the Disney Renaissance and as such it has outstanding animation minimally assisted by CGI. This is a Disney film that is a work of art and looks as good today as it did when it first came out. Disney could make magic back in the day.

Though the run time is short they do a masterful job of setting up the scenario and delivering a story with a lot to it even if some of the elements are a bit questionable and the basis is thin. It doesn’t waste time with excessive frills or unnecessary dialogue. We get down to business almost right away. Belle’s father runs afoul of Beast. Gaston expresses his desire for Belle. We even learn (somewhat) why Beast is a furry. All issues in the story laid out quickly but not hurriedly.

And in an equally short time we get a good idea of the characters. From Belle’s strong will and intelligence to Beast’s angry nature to the bond between Lumière and Cogsworth to even Gaston, we know where all the important players stand. Good writers focusing on story can do that. This is a story about the redemptive power of love and by focusing on telling the story they get a great deal packed into a short run AND get the message across.

Beast needs to find someone to truly fall in love with him before it’s too late and Belle exchanges places with her dad. And then the two fall in love. But the story we do get is well done and entertaining. They don’t try to be ironic or subvert your expectations.

Beauty and the Beast is a wonderful bit of romantic animated comfort food from Disney. With great music and a well-done story this is something that will satisfy everybody.

Published by warrenwatchedamovie

Just a movie lover trying spread the love.

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