In the never-ending and ever-expanding debate regarding which Disney film is the greatest of all time (my vote is Aladdin incidentally), Beauty and the Beast stands in strong contention. It is difficult to overlook the Oscar recognition and the fact that it became the first animated film to be considered for Best Picture (something almost impossible to achieve today now that genre has it’s own category).
This isn’t one of those occasions where the Oscars got carried away with itself either. There is so much that makes Beauty and the Beast stand-out from it’s animated peers, both within Disney and beyond. For starters the animation is crisp, clear and successful. Regardless of the original release date, the animation still stands the test of time and shows some of Disney’s best talent, something which has started to be forgotten now that CGI and computer graphic animation has come to the forefront.
There is a great contrast between the main characters and the rest of the cartoonish cast. Belle is a stand-out Disney princess, villain Gaston has a striking and threatening look, while the supporting, enchanted furniture all “come to life” in comical and genius ways. No animated character works better than the titular Beast though, with the animation managing to balance between threatening and lovable.
It is this fine balancing act which of course creates the central story. There is nothing original about Beauty and the Beast and it is a tale that has been told many times before. It is a classic love story but with Disney’s deft touch, it is handed a charm which many other inferior interpretations lack. Like the best of the Disney movies, moments vary from the comical and sweet (snowballs in the castle gardens) to the menacing and dark (the final, tower-top showdown). It also manages to maintain a decent pace, coming in at a quick 91 minutes, something modern animations could learn from.
This entertaining and never dull nature of the film is helped by the excellent music. The musical numbers have become famous and are regarded as some of Disney’s best. “Be Our Guest” and “Gaston” capture the tone and spirit of their individual characters well but it is the titular track which manages to steal the movie, with the same theme being piped throughout the romantic scenes.
That is the magic and success of Beauty and the Beast, it’s individual, very successful parts come together to make an impressive final package. The animation conveys the varied characters well, the story is familiar but with a glisten and humorous charm, all being accompanied by a soundtrack which is timeless.
Overall, Beauty and the Beast is one of the best Disney has to offer. It deserves it’s many awards and fond memories and still holds-up today. The story is fairly well-known and hardly unique and it isn’t Disney’s best but is still worth your time today.
Rating – 4
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)