Beauty and the Beast (1991)
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Kirk Wise, Gary Trousdale
Robby Benson, Rex Everhart, Jesse Corti, Angela Lansbury, Jerry Orbach, David Ogden Stiers, Bradley Michael Pierce, Kimmy Robertson, Paige O'Hara, Paige O'Hara, Richard White, Jo Anne Worley
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|Movie Review by James |
June 13th, 2020
It's no wonder that Disney is one of the pioneers of animation. They practically invented the art of animation. From their cartoons with easy to recognize characters, to reinventing the fairy tale as we know it, we owe a lot to the Disney Company for transforming many childhoods with great entertainment. And that tradition continued into the 1990s when things really shook up. A new set of management, and animators with a clear vision on how to present a story, Disney eventually found a way to entertain the masses with its creativity. And in 1991, they achieved that form of greatness with their interpretation of the classic fairy tale "Beauty and the Beast". Hailed by many as one of their finest achievements, the film is truly one of their best. From the simplistic story, to the memorable characters and songs, this film has earned quite a lot of accolades since its release. Including a Best Picture nomination, the first time an animated movie would do so. The movie is easily one of Disney's greatest productions to come out of the studio. While their is one major flaw from keeping the film from being perfect, the movie itself is quite good. And while there are many interpretations and adaptations of the same French fairy tale, what we got with the 1991 version of "Beauty and the Beast" is simply one of the best.
The story has a young woman named Belle (Paige O'Hara) living in France, who has a very outgoing personality. Everyone questions her decisions, including the head honcho Gaston (Richard White), who wants to marry Belle. One day, Belle's father turns up missing, and she is led towards a mysterious castle. Inside the castle, lives a very monstrous Beast (Robby Benson), and his servants who take the form of enchanted items, as the whole abode has been cursed thanks to the Beast originally taking the form of a selfish prince. Belle agrees to exchange her life for her father's, and slowly but surely, warms the heart of the Beast in order to find true love.
Where to fully start with the amount of praise that "Beauty and the Beast" has?
The story presents itself as a simplistic fairy tale. And what better company than to do fairy tales than Disney? Everything is handled to perfection. From the three act structure, to the way the songs are introduced, and the happily ever after ending, the story is set up in a great manner that pretty much everyone will know what is going on.
With that being said, the editing is handled very well, too. At a run time of approximately 85 minutes, everything is handled in a well-thought out manner, and the action is delivered extraordinarily perfect. Plus, the sound design and editing is handled in the same manner. Every little detail of sound is put into consideration. From fight punches, to the silverware performing dance moves, the design put here is simply one of the best.
Another memorable aspect of the movie is the cast. Both O'Hara and Benson play off each other very well, and as the movie progresses, they form a unique chemistry that is very relatable. Even White playing the villain does a good job, which I thought would hate, but grew as time went on watching this movie. On top of this, we have very comedic performances from the likes of Jerry Orbach and David Ogden Stiers, plus a very good casting choice from Angela Lansbury delivering her all in a major supporting role. All of these actors and actresses do an amazing job with what they are given with the characters they portray.
And speaking of the characters, all of them have unique and distinct personalities that the audience can relate to. Belle is curious about the world around her, and must use her brains to do what is right for the Beast. The Beast is also super serious, but as he warms up to Belle, his heart soon learns to love. The other characters are also a treat. From the comedic Lumiere and Cogsworth, to the egotistical Gaston, every character has both charm and personality built to them.
The songs also make the movie worth it. From the opening tune of 'Belle', to the titular track, the main set of songs, including the outstanding score, really make this movie worth listening to. Both Howard Ashman and Alan Menken did a tremendous job at writing each song, and determining what kind of score would be used. Sadly, Howard did not live to see the final cut of the movie as he passed away before the premiere. This movie is gladly dedicated to his memory...
However, the big draw to this production is, of course, the animation. From the backgrounds that show off a superior contrast between light and dark, to the enchanted castle, everything feels very lively. And speaking of being alive, the character design is absolutely amazing. All of the objects in the castle have a creative charm to them, and the human characters don't feel like they're out of place. And then there's the Beast. Out of all of the designs given to him, the choice for the model being portrayed here is really a clever and imaginative one. Plus, the use of the computer in the ballroom to portray the camera is still impressive to this day.
If there is anything negative to say about the movie, it would be that as this is an animated production, there is bound to be animation errors. And with this film, there is no exception to the rule. It may not be noticeable upon first viewing the viewing, but after several viewing attempts, one does notice them more often. More often than not, most of them do raise the question of continuity throughout the entire production. But as a whole, the entire movie is engaging enough to ignore to ignore this flaw.
In conclusion, the 1991 interpretation of "Beauty and the Beast" is simply magical. There's something so charming and creative, that you will get lost in its own world. Disney reinvented itself with this one in this one, and it clearly shows.
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