Nominated for six Academy Awards including Best Picture, Beauty And The Beast is one of Disney's greatest animated achievements. Its massive success reinvigorated the Disney animation juggernaut which had been dormant for decades, launching the release of smashing blockbusters such as Aladdin and The Lion King.
Taking home two Oscars for Best Music (Original Score and Original Song), the film launched a trend in Disney animation by blending musical numbers with cartoon choreography, an aspect that would become a staple of film after film for the remainder of the decade. In short, Beauty And The Beast is a landmark production just as remarkable today as when it was first released.
Following the Disney tradition of transposing well-known fairy tales from the pages of a book to the sparkle of the big screen, Beauty And The Beast follows the life of Belle (Paige O’Hara), a beautiful bookworm maiden who captivates her town’s most eligible bachelor, Gaston (Richard White). Dissatisfied with life in her small French villa, Belle grows especially tired of the conceited and self-absorbed Gaston, who is unable to fathom the idea that Belle does not welcome his affections.
Meanwhile, The Beast lives in solitude in a long-ago abandoned castle, having had a spell cast upon him because of his inability to love. The spell turned the handsome prince into an ugly beast, and it turned all of his servants into dinnerware, candlesticks, and other inanimate objects. When Belle’s father, Maurice (Rex Everhart) makes a wrong turn, he inadvertently unites the lives of Belle and The Beast. After spending much time with Belle, the bitter and hardened Beast begins to soften. He and Belle fall in love, but Gaston and his fellow village marauders arrive at the castle walls and demand the return of Belle, threatening to kill The Beast.
The highlight of Beauty And The Beast is the musical number “Be Our Guest,” which features an entire dining hall filled with dancing teacups, plates, and eating utensils. The sequence forged the way for similar scenes in Aladdin (“A Whole New World”) and The Lion King (“Hakuna Matata”). Directors Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise not only create a perfect transition from song to story, but they also manage to introduce innumerable humorous lines into musical sequences, especially with the early song bandied about by the rival for Belle’s hand, Gaston.
One of the top films of all time (that’s from any genre, not just animation), Beauty And The Beast remains one of Disney’s most heralded creations. It tells the classic love story of the beast with a good heart and does so with vivid characters, a world-class musical score, and animated visual images that would make Walt Disney proud. Critically acclaimed and extremely successful at the box office, Beauty And The Beast is a true blockbuster in the traditional sense of the word. An awe-inspiring film that launched a new generation of animated Disney masterpieces, Beauty And The Beast is the quintessential "must see" family film.
Britt's Rating: 9.5/10