Welcome to this blog of my film reviews. Some have been drafted carefully on paper, others I have sat and typed. I'm going to make it clear right now that I don't expect you to agree with my (re)views, or to like my style of writing. However, I want my views to be just out there and open, as a person who wishes to express himself from deep within. Feel free to comment and debate with me, but I do ask that you are civil and not harsh, as any comments which are basically swear words and insults will automatically be deleted. Also any text that is in orange (and often bold) is a Hyperlink to either a source, or a previous post for background reference.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Beauty and the Beast


Adapted from the French fairy tale La Belle et la Bete (1756) by Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont, Beauty and the Beast brought Disney animation into the most modern type of animation at the time - a wonderful combination of traditional and computer-generated cartooning.

Here's how the narrative/plot goes...
A brief prologue shows us - through effective images of stained glass windows - a young Prince (Robby Benson) turning away an old begger woman offering a rose for a night's shelter in his castle. The begger turns out to be an enchantress in disguise and for his selfishness she turns the Prince into a Beast, and his many, many servants into furniture and household items. She gives the Beast a magic mirror that will allow him to view faraway events, and the rose, which will bloom until his 21st birthday. In order for the curse to be broken he must love and be loved in return before all the petals fall off.
Around a decade later inventor Maurice (Rex Everhart) stumbles upon the castle and is taken prisoner by the Beast. His young daughter Belle (Paige O'Hara) comes to find him and tells the Beast to let Maurice go and take her as his prisoner instead - to which the Beast agrees. However, Belle runs away and gets cornered by a pack of wolves. The Beast saves her and she helps his wounds heal and the two start to become close friends. The two eventually start to fall in love, however, when local hunter Gaston (Richard White), who longs to marry Belle, learns of the Beast's existence and the closeness between him and Belle, the egotistical hunter rounds up a mob to storm the castle and kill the Beast.

Beauty and the Beast, visually, is one of the most beautiful animated films of all time. The beautifully detailed animation of everything to do with the Beast's palace will not fail to make your jaw drop, particularly the ballroom scene, which is so carefully designed to look like the most beautiful ballroom of all time that you won't be able to take your eyes off it.

The characters are among the most glorious characters to ever be found in a Disney animation. The Beast will shock you in the first half with his foul temper and cold, harsh nature, but in the second half he will really tug at your heartstrings as he despairs over the possibility of spending an eternity stuck as the Beast that he is and, if you've ever been scared of declaring your love for a man or woman, then you will feel his pain and worry over showing Belle his love. Belle, starts off a slightly eccentric young woman, unaware of her own beauty, and also a little nervous and uncertain of herself. However, she develops into a headstrong, no-nonsense woman over the course of the film. Arguably, though, the most memorable characters are the servants trapped as household objects/furniture. Lumiere (Gerry Orbach) is a hilariously flirtatious and cheeky mini (handheld/mantlepiece sized) candleabra, and together with David Ogden Stiers's pompous and very flustered clock, Cogsworth, makes a superb comic double act. Teapot Mrs Potts (Angela Lansbury) is heartwarmingly kind, and her small son, Chip the teacup (Bradley Michael Pierce), is irresistably sweet and charming.

The film, like all the all time great Disney films - Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), Pinocchio (1940), Dumbo (1941) and Bambi (1942), to name a few - has also got its fair share of poignant moments. Moments such as the Beast's apparent death at the end of the climax will reduce you to tears, and the scene where Belle expresses how much she truly misses her father will really hit hard to anyone who has been seperated from someone they really care for/love.

With all of these elements coupled with an outstanding Oscar-winning score - including Oscar-winning song Beauty and the Beast and Oscar nominated songs Belle, and, most memorable of all, Be Our Guest - Beauty and the Beast deservedly became one of the biggest, most wonderful Disney films of all time and really earned that Oscar nomination for Best Picture, making it the first of only two animated films to be nominated - the second being Pixar's Up (2009).

Paige O'Hara, Robby Benson, Richard White, Gerry Orbach, David Ogden Stiers, Angela Lansbury, Bradley Michael Pierce, Rex Everhart, Jesse Corti, Jo Anne Worley, Frank Welker, Hal Smith, Tony Jay, Mary Kay Bergman, Kathy Soucie, Kimmy Robertson.

Oscars: Best Original Score (Alan Menken), Best Original Song (Beauty and the Beast - Alan Menken, Howard Ashman).
Oscar nominations: Best Picture (Don Hahn), Best Sound Mixing (Terry Porter, Mel Metcalfe, David J. Hudson, Doc Kane), Best Original Song (Belle - Alan Menken, Howard Ashman), Best Original Song (Be Our Guest - Alan Menken).

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