Tuesday, 7 August 2012

FILM REVIEW

Beauty and the Beast (1991)

Beauty and the Beast is my animated contribution to Tuesday’s Overlooked/Forgotten films and television over at Todd Mason’s blog Sweet Freedom. Don't forget to check out the other fascinating reviews over there. 


Gaston: How can you read this? There’s no pictures! 
Belle: Well, some people use their imagination. 

There are two kinds of films that have a special charm—animated and musical. Many animated movies are musicals too. Animated films transport you into a magical world you linger in long after you’re back in your own. They will rarely disappoint and are absolutely delightful to watch.

Last weekend, I saw Tangled (2010) and The Prince of Egypt (1998) on television and enjoyed both animated films immensely. Tangled, which is about a lost princess who finds love and her parental kingdom in the end, is the sort of film you ought to watch on the big screen: it’s one of the most colourful animated movies I’ve seen in recent years. The Prince of Egypt is the story of Moses who delivers his people from slavery and torture under the king of the pharaohs. 

While this post is not about Tangled or The Prince of Egypt, the two movies got me thinking about my favourite animated film—Beauty and the Beast—the musical fantasy from the Disney stable. Everything about this film is wonderful: from the animation and music score by Alan Menken, who composed music for The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and Pocahontas to the sad story of a cursed prince whose salvation lies in loving a woman and receiving her love in return. Only then will the spell of an evil enchantress break and turn the hideous beast back into the handsome prince he really is.

Since you already know what this award-winning animated film is about, I’ll touch upon just one aspect of the film that I really liked: Belle’s love of books.

The pretty-little peasant girl has little to do in her village except look after her father, an eccentric inventor, take care of their small cottage, and read books. She visits the local bookstore, rather impressive for a small village where people are anything but bookish, and is disappointed when she doesn’t find a new book to read. So she picks up a book she has read before and makes her way back home—singing along the way.

As Belle (Paige O'Hara) walks back, she meets Gaston (Richard White), the local hunter and the village narcissist, who thinks he owns the girl and has the right to marry her without, of course, asking her or her father, Maurice (Rex Everhart). The egomaniac has no brains and so he doesn’t understand books. On the other hand, the Beast (Robby Benson) delights in listening to Belle read out to him, in his dark and foreboding mansion where he holds her captive in exchange for her father’s freedom, because he’s learning to fall in love with her.

Beauty and the Beast is an enchanting film with a sad beginning and a happy ending, like all fairy tales are, and leaves you with a nice feeling. See it if you haven’t yet. Now then, sit back and take a trip with Belle and her books…
 










Source for images: Walt Disney Pictures

8 comments:

  1. If you haven't seen Jean Cocteau's film of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (La Belle et la Bête), you'll need to.

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    1. Todd, I'm quite sure I've seen Jean Cocteau's version of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST though I'll probably have to refresh my memory by seeing it again.

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  2. I liked that quite a bit. I think Beauty was the loveliest of Disney's creations so far.

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    1. Thanks, Charles. This is the one animated film I can watch any time of the day. Beauty and the Beast share such a beautiful relationship. It's the stuff fairy tales are made of.

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  3. I was obsessed with animated film when I was a kid and couldn't get enough of it. Cartoons were a favorite part of going to the movies (when they had cartoons). On TV, I most enjoyed the Disney Show when it featured animation.

    A mystery to me is how animation has left me totally uninterested today, at a time when the technology is so advanced and the annual output is prodigious by comparison with the 1940s and 1950s. Somehow, I've lost the sense of wonder that I could always count on animaton to elicit.

    The B&B story is still lovely, and I echo Todd Mason's comment about the Cocteau version.

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    1. Ron, I'm still a huge fan of animated films. I rarely miss them in theatres. In fact, just yesterday I saw ICE AGE 4: CONTINENTAL DRIFT which, like most sequels, wasn't as good as the first. I love watching animated films in 3D: it's a whole new experience though films of the 1940s and 1950s still retain their charm. Among the early animated films, I remember enjoying the Aristocats and O'Malley and the Alley Cats and the Lady and the Tramp. A favourite Disney character was, and still is, Donald Duck. Tom & Jerry are incomparable.

      I do intend to see the earlier version of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. The screen shots look very familiar.

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  4. I always cry when Beast dances with Beauty....sigh!

    Todd is right, is you haven't seen JEAN COCTEAU'S BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, you must.

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    1. Yvette, Disney transports you into a magical world with BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. I like the story, the characters, the colours, and the vibrancy of the film. I'm going to have to see Jean Cocteau's version (again).

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