Movies That Everyone Should See: “Beauty and the Beast”

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Tale as old as time…

Or 1991, at least.

In the early 1990s, Walt Disney Animated Features was in the midst of a renaissance. “The Little Mermaid”, “Beauty and the Beast”, “Aladdin”, and “The Lion King” were all released within a five year span.

“Beauty and the Beast” was the most successful animated film in Disney history at the time of its release. It was the first animated feature film to utilize computer animation. It was the first animated picture in U.S. box office history to gross more than one hundred million dollars, and the first animated film to be nominated for Best Picture.

It is truly one of the greatest animated motion pictures of all time.

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“Beauty and the Beast” is based on the classic fairy tale “La Belle et la Bête”, which was first published in 1740. It’s not exactly a “tale as old as time,” but 250 years is pretty close.

It’s the story of a prince, who is placed under a spell which turns him into a hideous beast. Although, this is a Disney movie, so “hideous” means looking like a handsome lion with bull horns. He is cursed to remain in that form forever, unless he can find a woman who loves him before a magical rose (acting as a prettier version of an hourglass) dies.

Of course, fate intervenes to bring him exactly the woman he needs.

Belle.

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Belle is an intelligent, attractive young female who lives in a nearby village. She loves to read, and sing, and twirl around as if she were in “The Sound of Music”. She longs for more than “this provincial life”, and dreams about men who aren’t morons.

You certainly can’t blame her, as her father is an absent minded inventor who’s always coming up with crazy invention ideas, and the village’s alpha male, Gaston, is shown to be a vain, pompous, inconsiderate oaf.

Gaston naturally assumes that Belle, the most attractive girl in the hamlet, will be his, but she has no interest. She seems put off by his assertion that women shouldn’t read, because that leads to ideas, and… thinking. Gaston goes so far as to arrange a marriage ceremony prior to even asking her to marry him.

The rest of her village appears to be comprised of old men and morons.

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“I use antlers in all of my de-cor-ating!”

When her father gets lost in the woods, he stumbles into the Beast’s enchanted castle.

It turns out that the prince’s entire house-staff was polymorphed at the same time he was. Now they live as enchanted objects; talking tea cups and tea pots, a candle and a clock, a barking ottoman. Of course, this being Disney, none of them seem to be maladjusted to their fate.

While these happy household objects welcome Belle’s father in to the castle warmly, the master of the house is less than pleased. He throws the old man in a cell. The Beast is a very angry person.

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It’s not long before Belle tracks her father down, and in a unselfish act of bravery, she offers to take her father’s place as the Beast’s prisoner. Aware of the potential for having his curse lifted, the Beast accepts.

Of course, the Beast isn’t exactly Casanova. His relationship with Belle gets off to a rocky, growling, frightening start.

Thankfully, the servants are around to help. Not only do they gently remind the Beast that she could break the curse, they coach him in the finer points of romance. While he and Belle are still hostile to each other, the house staff reach out and make her feel… welcome. They break out singing and dancing in the rousing and unforgettable “Be Our Guest”.

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When the beast risks his life fighting a pack of wolves that Belle encounters during an escape attempt, things begin to soften between the two. The romance is on.

And so is the movie. The true magic of “Beauty and the Beast” lies in the slowly unfolding romance between Belle and the Beast. Atop of the fact he’s falling for her, it’s obvious he completely lacks social skills. Bit by bit, they get to know each other, get to like each other, and eventually fall in love with each other as they house staff looks on in approval.

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The two eventually dance in the magical, computer rendered ballroom sequence. But that night, when Belle confesses she wishes she could see her Father, the Beast shows her a magic mirror. Seeing her father is in danger, she worries for his safety aloud. At which time the Beast releases her from his captivity, allowing her to go to her father, and epitomizing the phrase “If you love something, set it free.”

Back in the village, Belle is forced to show the villagers the Beast through the magic of the mirror. The people get up in arms, ready to march on the castle and kill the Beast, led by the headstrong and bloodthirsty Gaston. The movie builds to the basic Disney climax, which features such Disney standards as heights, lightning, a villain who falls to his… disappearance, and a death scare by one of the principals.

Of course, it all resolves itself well, and everyone lives happily ever after.

You’ll be happy too.

This is a movie filled with magical characters, wonderful songs, and a heart touching romance. It’s incredibly animated, and was groundbreaking at the time of it’s release. It remains one of the finest jewels in the Disney crown to this day, and one of the greatest animated pictures ever made by any motion picture studio.

It’s definitely a “Movie That Everyone Should See.”

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38 thoughts on “Movies That Everyone Should See: “Beauty and the Beast”

  1. Gotta disagree with this one. I really wasn’t crazy about the film. I didn’t really find the romance between the two all that compelling, and the villain Gaston, who everyone praises for being a great villain, is about as one dimensional and bland as you can get. I’ll give the film credit for some outstanding animation, but the movie itself is kinda forgettable.

  2. Well, I guess I’d counter that animated movies have kind of a different standard. So Gastone IS pretty much “One Note”, but that’s par for the course in animated movies. And it’s a fun note.

    I DID buy the Romance though. Mostly because it was setup so well. By the time she leaves her village, you believe Belle WOULD fall for the Beast, because you’ve seen where she comes from.

    And then they do enough to make it sweet and fun to watch.

    I’m pretty secure in my choice. Hope I get some backup out there though folks!

    • I don’t think you can hold animated movies to that standard anymore. Toys Story 3 villain isn’t just complex, he’s pitiable. IMHO you need to add TS3 on here if you’re adding beauty and the beast.

      • One day, sure. There’s no ranking or order to the selections, Sean. Toy Story 3 would be a worthy selection (as would its predecessors) but I just havent gotten to them yet.

        Beauty and the Beast is a classic though, regardless of what’s happening today in animation!

  3. I loved the movie. I have the re-release where they added some of the scenes that were cut out from the original theater release. The scene with the dancing brooms, plus they cleaned up the picture so it’s brighter and crisper. It’s a great story in that it is a simple story. It can be told within the 1.5 hour time span and there is comedy to go along with the romance part. La Foo adds the comedy and the things that happen to him and Gaston.

    I can’t write anything as eloquent as Dan does, I take it from the point of the simple viewer. I have watched this movie probably once or twice a year for a long time. The kids love it too. That in my opinion is what makes a classic movie, something that can be watched again and still enjoyed.

  4. One of the best and beautiful animation films of all-time, especially the ballroom dance scene that still looks beautiful even today in the age of computer-effects everywhere. Good Stuff Dan!

  5. A great movie, and certainly THE modern Disney classic (and if someone balks at applying the term “modern” to a 20-year-old film, well, all I can say is that only occasionally has Disney risen near to this height since; Disney’s had some golden years and some less-than-golden ones, and the early 90s were a golden year period.) It’s a fun, beautifully made movie, and if the characters and plot are just a touch simplistic, well, it’s a kids’ movie based on a fairy tale. We don’t go into that expecting multiple layers of complexity. But the movie did a great job playing the personalities off of each other, and providing situations to showcase some of the more subtle nuances. I’m glad you included a picture of the bird scene above, because it’s a great example. He doesn’t say anything, but we can see it written all over him; here’s somebody who is used to being abrasive and heavy-handed, and more importantly, the indisputable lord and master of his own domain, and he’s completely out of his depth dealing with this girl who implicitly expects gentility from him, who leads him by the hand and tries to show him how to have fun and be, well, less beastly. You see all the emotions — confusion, shyness, a desire to please, a desire to change AND irritation at doing so — play out on his face in a matter of seconds.

    After “Tangled”, Disney executives released a statement that they weren’t going to be doing any more fairy tales for the foreseeable future, and had in fact canceled production on the ones they were working on. All I could think was, “Are you demented?” While Disney has produced some good animated features that weren’t based on fairy tales, folk tales, or mythology, that’s still very much what they’re known for, and what people go to Disney for. While I can understand not wanting to “play it safe” all the time, it just seems unfathomable that they’d want to close the doors completely on the genre that gave them most of their biggest hits (The Lion King being an arguable exception, as that’s more “Hamlet with Lions”). According to this L.A. Times article on the announcement (http://articles.latimes.com/2010/nov/21/entertainment/la-et-1121-tangled-20101121), what they’re working on right now is a movie called “Reboot Ralph”. You can just hear the classic-ness dripping off that title, can’t you? When people are asked to pick their favorite Disney movies, or just iconic Disney movies, the fairy tale ones always dominate the list. I can understand — and approve — of doing other things, as I certainly can’t argue with the success or quality of “The Lion King”, “One Hundred and One Dalmatians”, or “Dumbo”… I just can’t understand saying “We don’t intend to go back to the well that gave us ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’, ‘Cinderella’, ‘The Little Mermaid’, and ‘Beauty and the Beast’ for the next decade or so.”

    • It’s a point… but I wonder, how many famous ones are out there that haven’t been done? Hansel and Gretzel? The Boy Who Cried Wolf? The Ugly Duckling? I guess if I can name three right off the top of my head there must be a bunch still out there, huh? Ok.

      I think the biggest problem for disney animation is that that style of movie seems to be out of vogue at the moment. I wonder if it will ever reach the heights it held previously again. “Winnie the Pooh” has a 90% tomatometer rating, yet it only raked in 24.4 mil. There’s something off there.

      On the whole “Disney hasn’t reached this height in 20 years” I wonder what kind of credit they should be getting for the Pixar movies… I mean, if Disney is backing them in order to distribute…

      Nice comment on the bird scene, very true. This girl absolutely brings about changes in him as a character. I love the pained way he does what needs to be done by releasing her. Its like it almost kills him. (In a sense I guess that actually IS what happens). I guess that is part of what made this movie so great, we got much more depth than we expected out of it.

      • There are thousands of fairy tales out there; admittedly, some are more obscure than others, but I don’t know that that really hurts them much. “The Little Mermaid”, before its movie, was probably less known than fellow Hans Christan Anderson stories “The Ugly Duckling” and “Thumbelina” (incidentally, “The Snow Queen”, another HCA story, was one of the projects Disney canceled). Which gives rise to the question of how many of these famous fairy tales are famous primarily because there was a Disney movie made of them decades ago. Was “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” actually much better known in the 30s than the unrelated but similarly-titled “Snow-White and Rose-Red”? I don’t know. But I’m sure that the movie was a contributing factor in keeping “Dwarfs” as a major tale.

        And yeah, it does seem like traditional 2D animation is out of vogue right now, which is a sad thing (and I say that as someone who not only enjoys but creates 3D artwork, so it’s not just old fogeyism on my part). I’m not sure why it is, entirely. “Winnie the Pooh”‘s lack of success can probably be blamed on the “seen it before” factor; we’ve seen Winnie the Pooh, we’ve seen Disney’s Winnie the Pooh, we’ve seen Disney’s feature-length take on Winnie the Pooh. More than once if we count the Tigger and Piglet spin-offs. There’s a lack of a sense of novelty to it, especially since unlike most movie series, there’s a sense that Winnie the Pooh is static and unchanging. So there may be a lack of urgency for seeing Winnie the Pooh in theatres. But even with that explanation for Pooh, we still have to ask why “The Princess and the Frog” ‘only’ broke 100 million, when Pixar’s work regularly does triple that, and Disney’s 90s films did that (or better) in 1990s dollars. I’d hate to think that the general public views 2D animation as “obsolete” with the advent of 3D rendering, but it almost seems that way. There’s more than enough room for both media, and I’d like to see more of each. I wonder, as an offhand thought, if some of the perception of 2D animation being passe came about because only Disney was ever really successful at it in the first place. Don Bluth had some very good attempts, but only had around a dozen total. Dreamworks had some very lofty goals but people only remember their 3D works (particularly Shrek). I wonder how much a lack of competition is stifling the medium (granted, it’s hard to compete in a medium that seems to not be popular, but again, there may be a chicken-and-egg factor here.)

        As to whether Disney deserves some credit on Pixar’s success… well, some certainly. At least as much as an executive producer deserves on successful films. And since one of Pixar’s top guys is now one of Disney’s top guys, the credits and successes are virtually synonymous for the immediate future.

      • Easy with the “Old Fogey” stuff, huh? LOL. Who you callin’ old?

        I think its just progress. People would rather see this than that because it is… admittedly… a little bit better. One’s no less artistic than the other, but the computer aided stuff can just do so much more…

        It’ll take awhile and then someone will release a flick that feels like a shock to people and for a moment what’s old will be new again, but it wont ever go back to being king of the mountain again I dont think.

  6. To Morgan, in regards to why Winnie the Pooh didn’t do very well, I would say it has less to do with the film and more to do with when it was released. It came out the same day as the newest Potter and new blockbusters kept getting released every week. An August or September release probably would have been a lot smarter and safer.

    • Wow, you’re right!

      What the hell was that? Was Disney just dumping it? That’s like sentencing a movie to box office doom right there.

      I didn’t even realize they did that, that is strange…

      • I don;t know what they were thinking. Since had it been released at the right time, I’m sure Pooh could have brought in some decent box-office. I also didn’t notice a lot of advertising for the film.

    • You’re right, that’s definitely something to consider as well. There have been more than a few movies that went on to become “cult classics” whose box office intake was limited primarily by being up against THE big movie of the year.

  7. While I surely have nothing to add to the eloquent dissection of the film so far I will say that this has always been one of my favorites as well. As much as the feminist regime wants to trash disney fir propogating the princess mythology they had a good long string of movies with strong, smart,tough, and yes pretty lead characters…ariel, belle, mulan, pocahontas(im sure im forgetting one or two). As a chick and a mom I like that. And if u ever were forced to endure Barbie and the magic of pegasus or its ilk u would understand.

    • Ha!! I’m glad I don’t have to. The title alone makes me cringe…

      Yeah, I can’t speak to all Disney flicks on that right now, but for this one at least, Belle’s a good solid heroine.

      Certainly no damsel in distress helplessly waitin’ on a Prince to come…

  8. I love this movie, what really made me wow about it, was how the camera moved during their dance in the ballroom, love the way they scroll the scene to the whole ballroom then to the figure dancing. Never could forget that one. Plus of course the story is timeless. =) Thanks for posting. Reminded me of my childhood.

    • Cool, cool. Glad you enjoyed. That’s a big part of these is to look back and remember what they’re all about.

      That Ballroom scene was so new and groundbreaking. We didn’t really have CGI animation prior to this, so it was breathtaking…

  9. I really liked this movie when I was a kid, and I always remember it with a smile on my face, because of two reasons. First, I’m in love with the library the Beast builds for Belle. Second, when I was 8 years old I was part of a play based on the movie, which we performed on roller skates. It was so awesome! I played the part of the chandelier, one of my favourite characters (if no THE favourite) in the movie. You can’t imagine how great it was to sing Be Our Guest (I wasn’t actually singing, it was a play back) and showing Belle everything, and all the cups and plates and food dancing around ♥ It was magical. Or at least I remember it that way. Just wanted to share my experience :D

    • HA!!!

      I’m glad you did! That’s awesome! :D :D

      You had a school play on ROLLER SKATES!? That is freaking COOL.

      Thanks for taking a look around and thanks for sharing, its great when people share their experiences with movies, I love it. Its one of the things I love best about having a blog. :)

      • No no, it wasn’t at school. I used to roller skate in a club and participate in competitions. It was artistic roller skate (my mother tongue is Spanish, so I don’t know the exact translation to this sport in English). Sometimes, we organised shows and that time we decided to do a Beauty and the Beast play and perform all the songs from the Disney movie. Anyway, it wasn’t at school but still it was freaking cool :D

        BTW, I love this blog, I saw it for the first time when you published a post about The Breakfast Club. I watched the movie afterwards and liked it a lot! Gonna suscribe to your blog right now ;)

        And I also enjoy that sharing! That’s why I do it :D

      • Well, great. Welcome aboard. Feel free to look around and comment on anything you like.

        And “artistic roller skate” comes across just fine. I dont know that we have a specific word for it anyways! :D

  10. Great post! I couldn’t agree more, I’m a huge Disney fan and this is definitely in my top 5 of Disney Classics. The music and lyrics by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman are of a gold standard. It’s a shame Ashman passed away whilst completing this movie, the songs of subsequent films never quite lived up to the wit of Beauty and the Beast’s best numbers.

    • I would have to agree. Beauty’s music is the best of the recent Disney musicals without a doubt. Probably of all the Disney musicals… at the moment, I’m hard pressed to think of ANY Disney movie with better songs.

      Thanks for stopping by Red Apple!!

  11. I’m late on this discussion but I just rewatched the Blueray edition of this movie. No matter how many times I see it. ***Spoiler***

    The moment when Belle whispers “I love you” after the beast gets stabbed. Allways, allways makes me cry. I usually hate these sad moments but for some reason it works here. It’s true magic is that it continues to get me each time. Great pick

    • Awwwww. LOL

      Just bustin’ you Vern. I hear you. They make you think he’s gonna die for a minute too. :o

      It is a great flick. I’m pretty sure it was the first animated movie I wrote up – and for good reason – Disney knocked this one out of the park. The songs, the characters, the animation, the timeless fairytale quality of it.

      Absolutely, this one is a great, great movie. :D

  12. Great post Fogs!
    I haven’t seen this one in a while, and correct me if I’m wrong, but did the Beast ever have a human name? It seems weird to me that if he did, he didn’t retain his human name after the transformation. He was obviously a wealthy prince who probably had a very regal, respectable name. It would be the last shred of dignity for him to cling to in this difficult time. But he just resigned himself to being called Beast all the time? If someone turned me into a pile of shit I’m pretty sure I’d still want to be called by my name instead of “pile of shit”, lol.

    • Off the top of my head, I don’t think he did. I think they just called him a prince at the beginning before he got changed. And then Belle was so selfish, she just didn’t care. LOL

      So I think its worse than being called “a pile of shit”, it would be your love interest doing it…. for months. LOL :D

      • LOL, so love transforms him back into a respectable gentleman and people just keep on calling him Beast. It’s a hard-knock life I guess!

      • He probably doesn’t even remember his name. You know? Gets turned into a lion and now all he wants to do is eat zebras and stuff. LOL I wonder if that ever leaves you….

  13. Hi Fogs, been reading your blog posts for last few days and wanted to share my love of this film with you (also, I’ve been a big fan of Morgan’s blog for awhile now, and that is how I came to know of yours).

    This film was only a favorite of mine as a kid because of the music. I loved Cinderella (which still holds #1 spot to this day for animations, and ranks high on my favorite “inner child loves” movie list too), Little Mermaid, Lion King, 101 Dalmations, Aristocats for everything they brought, but I didn’t really appreciate Beauty and the Beast’s romance story until the last few years. Along with this, I only recently came to become a fan of blu-rays, and my man, Rick, has this movie on blu-ray (Gaston is one of his fave villians and he enjoys this movie a lot), and I was wowed all over again by the art and style of this film. I mean…wow, it still packs a punch when it’s seen in a really great format!

    I have been doing a relatively good job on passing the classics on to the youngin’, my daughter, Jessica (just turned 8 in Oct). This is one that she and I will take turns putting in every few months so we can sing along and roll our eyes at Belle being mad at the Beast for breaking his rule of going into the forbidden area of the castle…I mean, the man said don’t do it, and then you get mad when he gets mad?!…sorry, tangent, grabbing the steering wheel, back on main road. Hahaha. Well, it is now a favorite for many reasons here at our own enchanted nut-uh sorry, I mean loving house. ;-)

    Oh yea, Chip was one of my fave characters when I was a kid! Haha, just recalled that right now.

    Really enjoying your posts, especially chick flick city, (oh man, lmao), and I can’t decide if I should dive in or just sit back and read…cause as you can see, I talk a lot once I get started :-P I also must say I appreciate your humor, your honesty, and just plain being nice….very refreshing. :-D

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