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Dreaming in Animated 3D: Disney’s Beauty and the Beast

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I’ve been writing a lot about what I’d like to see available for 3D TV: movies, television series, sporting events. I haven’t talked much about animated features, although that is one medium which seems to lend itself well to the technology. The first movie shot directly for 3D was 2009’s Monsters vs. Aliens. It was a fun movie, though not particularly deep. (Although that brilliant Dr. Cockroach, voiced by Hugh Laurie was awfully cute.) One of the things that the movie managed really well, was its judicious use of 3D. The effects were natural, not overdone; those things rendered in 3D made sense to be in 3D.

Recently, I’ve wondered, however, which animated movies I’d like to see adapted for 3D. I think very high on my list would be the Disney classics, already visually stunning even viewed in standard definition: Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Fantasia. The artistry of these films gives such depth to each frame; the intensity of each story would only be enhanced by the judicious use of 3D elements.

I can imagine being placed virtually within the landscapes of Bambi, the palace ballrooms of Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella, the work-gang of the Seven Dwarves as they joyfully go off to mine for jewels. The 3D treatment, I imagine, would render Snow White’s evil queen all the more terrifying, and Mickey’s Sorcerer’s Apprentice dream in Fantasia more nightmarish, but how amazing they would be rendered in Blu-ray 3D, immersing us very personally within the action and intimacy of each film. And can you imagine the being brought directly into Fantasia‘s Pastoral sequence? Having seen Fantasia at the IMAX, I believe if they do it right, 3D technology would enhance where appropriate and not used at all when it would be overkill. (Hey, we’re dreaming here, right?)

But the Disney film I’d most like to see in 3D is the more recent Beauty and the Beast. The movie came out when my daughter was a very little girl. And besides the great songs and magic of the story, I really recall the magnificent visuals. The animators constructed remarkable “sets” that seemed to possess an endless depth, which came through even on our old technology VHS transfer.

In Blu-ray transfer, Beauty and the Beast the picture is even more exquisitely rendered right from the appearance of the signature Disney logo. You can practically reach out and touch the scenery and props, they are so brilliantly imagined. The colors, whether suggesting the dark despair of The Beast or the serentiy of the French country landscapes, or enchanted castle and its inhabitants. 

I can imagine the opening scene in 3D, soaring into its depths; then again approaching the dark, lonely castle. I’m never in favor of using technology for technology’s sake, and my perfect dream of 3D Beauty and the Beast would be used only when it would enhance and not overpower. The “gee whiz” should emanate from the story and the stunning art, not the high-tech gadgetry.

I can see 3D being used effectively as the castle’s accouterments come to life asking the beauty Belle to “Be Our Guest.” The viewer can literally be immersed in the grandness of the show-stopping, somewhat chaotic production number. 

And then there is the ballroom scene toward the end of the film; in 3D, the already-magnificent artistry could be simply breathtaking. As Belle and The Beast dance and the camera pans up through the chandelier into the ceiling mural, the entire room comes alive in color and dimension. It practically calls out for 3D treatment.

The mob scene as the townsfolk with torches and pitchforks descend on the castle would also render beautifully with 3D enhancement. And the final sequence of redemption and transformation of the beast (complete with fireworks) and of the dark, dank castle into final scene of the film would have to complete the 3D experience of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.

Although my children are no longer young enough to enjoy the movie as they had back when we first saw it, I would buy it for myself. Hope I don’t have to wait ‘till I’m a grandmother to do it! So, what animated classics would you enjoy in 3D?

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About Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett is publisher and executive editor of Blogcritics, as well as a noted entertainment writer. Author of Chasing Zebras: The Unofficial Guide to House, M.D., her primary beat is primetime television. But Barbara writes on an everything from film to politics to technology to all things pop culture and spirituality. She is a contributor to the book called Spiritual Pregnancy (Llewellyn Worldwide, January 2014) and has a story in Riverdale Ave Press' new anthology of zombie romance, Still Hungry for your Love. She is hard at work on what she hopes will be her first published novel.