BluRay/DVD Reviews

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

By • Oct 24th, 2010 •

Share This:

I remember it (from 1991) as an elegant but austere film, worthy of being the first animated feature to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Film of the Year (it lost out to Hannibal Lector, a beast of another kind). But its formal beauty also made me refrain from revisiting it over the years.

I don’t know if it’s the BluRay transfer, but this current incarnation pulsates with color and life, and now there are parts of it I could revisit weekly. First there are the backgrounds: all manner of red – rose, maroon, crimson – colors which not too many years ago tormented home delivery systems’ best efforts, now flaunt themselves before us, solid and vibrant. The green algae-covered walls of the dungeon area are marvelous as well. And the ride through the haunted woods, and the appearance of the Beast, qualify this disc as an appropriate Halloween treat.

Sherri Stoner was used as the model for Belle, and Paige O’Hara provided the voice, but she looks and sometimes sounds like Judy Garland to me. Alan Menken and Howard Ashman’s songs, unlike those in the early Disney animated features, sound as if they were written for Broadway, not the movie screen. And three years later the songs got their chance to be warbled from the stage, 5461 times in fact, until the show closed on July 29th, 2007, making it the seventh longest running play on Broadway. Using stage stars Angela Lansbury and Jerry Orbach (doing a delightful Maurice Chevalier impression as the candle-stick holder) was part of that plan.

Happily, there is precious little in the Disney version borrowed from the1946 Jean Cocteau version. One borrow is the character of Gaston, who was not in the original fairy tale, but was created by Cocteau, named Avenant, and played by Cocteau’s lover, Jean Marais.

The scenes with Belle in her town, and with the narcissistic Gaston, are still a bid staid, but then, even Cocteau had a struggle keeping these expository scenes lively. For the rest, the beast is a complex and compassionate creation, and when Belle finally says she loves him, you believe it.

Share This Article: Digg it | del.icio.us | Google | StumbleUpon | Technorati

Leave a Comment

(Comments are moderated and will be approved at FIR's discretion, please allow time to be displayed)