In the film's prologue, an enchantress disguised as an old beggar woman offers a selfish young prince a rose in exchange for a night's shelter. When he turns her away, she punishes him by transforming him into an ugly Beast and turns his servants into furniture and other household items. She gives him a magic mirror that will enable him to view faraway events, and also gives him the rose, which will bloom until his 21st birthday. He must love and be loved in return before all the rose's petals have fallen off, or he will remain a beast forever.
Years later, a beautiful but unusual young woman named Belle lives in a nearby village with her father Maurice, who is an inventor. Belle loves reading and yearns for a life beyond the village. She is also the object of frequent unwanted attention from the arrogant local hero, Gaston.
Maurice's latest invention is a wood-chopping machine. When he rides off to display the machine at the fair, he loses his way in the woods and stumbles upon the Beast's castle, where he meets the transformed servants Lumiere, Mrs. Potts, her son Chip, and Cogsworth. The Beast imprisons Maurice, but Belle is led back to the castle by Maurice's horse, Fillepe and offers to take her father's place. When the Beast agrees to this and sends him home, Maurice tells Gaston and the other villagers what happened, but they think he has lost his mind, so he goes to rescue her alone.
Meanwhile, Belle refuses the Beast's invitation to dinner, and the Beast orders his servants not to let her eat, but Lumiere serves her dinner anyway and Cogsworth gives her a tour of the castle. When she finds the rose in the forbidden area, the Beast angrily chases her away.
Frightened, Belle tries to escape, but she and her horse are attacked by wolves. Suddenly, the Beast miraculously arrives to her rescue and fends off the wolves. After Belle nurses his wounds, he gives her the castle library as a gift, and they become friends. Later, they have an elegant dinner and a romantic ballroom dance. When he lets her use the magic mirror, she sees her father dying in the woods, and, with only hours left before the rose wilts, with Beast allows her to leave, giving her the mirror to remember him by. This horrifies the servants, who fear they will never be human again.
Belle finds Maurice and takes him home, but Gaston arrives with a lynch mob. Unless she agrees to marry Gaston, the manager of the local madhouse will lock her father up. Belle proves Maurice sane by showing them the beast with the magic mirror, but Gaston arouses the mob's anger against the Beast and leads them to the castle to kill him. He locks Belle and Maurice in a basement, but Chip, who hid himself in Belle's luggage, chops the basement door apart with Maurice's machine.
While the servants and the mob battle for control of the castle, Gaston wonders off on his own and finds the Beast, then attacks him. The Beast is initially too depressed to fight back, but regains his will when he sees Belle arriving at the castle. After winning a heated battle, the Beast spares Gaston's life and climbs up to a balcony where Belle is waiting. Unbeknownst to them, Gaston has secretly followed the Beast and stabs him from behind, but loses his footing and falls off the balcony to his death.
As the Beast lies on the ground, apparently dead from his injuries, Belle sadly whispers that she loves him, just as the final petal from the rose falls off, breaking the spell. The Beast is revived, and he and the servants become human again. The last scene shows Belle and the prince dancing in the ballroom as her father, the villagers, and the servants happily watch them, while Lumiere and Cogsworth enter a feud.
Cast & CrewEdit
- Belle: Paige O'Hara
- Beast: Robert Benson
- Gaston: Richard White
- Lumiere: Jerry Orbach
- Mrs. Potts: Angela Lansbury
- Cogsworth: David Ogden Stiers
- Chip: Bradley Michael Pierce
- LeFou: Jesse Corte
- Maurice: Rex Everhart
- Philippe: Hal Smith
- Wardrobe: Jo Anne Worley
- Fifi: Kimmy Robertson
- Footstool, aka Sultan: Frank Welker
- The Bimbettes: Mary Kay Bergman and Kath Soucie
- Monsieur D'Aquire: Tony Jay
|Directed by||Gary Trousdale|
|Produced by||Don Hahn|
|Original Story by||
Ed Gombert (uncredited)
Jeffrey J. Varab (uncredited)
Larry Leker (uncredited)
|Animation Screenplay by||Linda Woolverton|
|Original Score by||Alan Menkin|
|Associate Producer||Sarah McArthur|
|Art Director||Brian McEntee|
|Film Editor||John Carnochan|
|Artistic Supervisors||Roger Allers (Story supervisor)|
Ed Ghertner (Layout supervisor)
Lisa Keene (Background supervisor)
Vera Pacheco (Clean-up supervisor)
Randy Fullmer (Effects supervisor)
Jim Hillin (Computer Graphics supervisor)
Ruben A. Aquino (Maurice)
Production of Beauty and the Beast had to be completed on a compressed timeline of two years rather than four because of the loss of production time spent developing the earlier Purdam version of the film. Most of the production was done at the main Feature Animation studio, housed in the Air Way facility in Glendale, California. A smaller team at the Disney-MGM Studios theme park in Lake Buena Vista, Florida assisted the California team on several scenes, particularly the "Be Our Guest" number.
Beauty and the Beast was the second film produced using CAPS (Computer Animation Production System), a digital scanning, ink, paint, and compositing system of software and hardware developed for Disney by Pixar. The software allowed a wider range of colors, as well as soft shading and colored line effects for the characters, techniques lost when the Disney studio abandoned hand inking for xerography in the late 1950s. CAPS also allowed the production crew to simulate multiplane effects: placing characters and/or backgrounds on separate layers and moving them towards/away from the camera on the Z-axis to give the illusion of depth, as well as altering the focus of each layer.
In addition, CAPS allowed easier combination of hand-drawn art with computer-generated imagery, which before had to be plotted to animation cels and painted traditionally. The latter technique was put to significant use during the "Beauty and the Beast" waltz sequence, in which Belle and Beast dance through a computer-generated ballroom as the camera dollies around them in simulated 3D space. The filmmakers had originally decided against the use of computers in favor of traditional animation, but later, when the technology had improved, decided it could be used for the one scene in the ballroom. The success of the ballroom sequence helped convince studio executives to further invest in computer animation.
Ashman and Menken wrote the Beauty song score during the pre-production process in Fishkill, the opening operetta-styled "Belle" being their first composition for the film. Other songs included "Be Our Guest", sung to Maurice by the objects when he becomes the first visitor to the castle in a decade, "Gaston", a solo for the swaggering villain, "Human Again", a song describing Belle and Beast's growing love from the objects' perspective, the love ballad "Beauty and the Beast", and the climatic "The Mob Song".
As story and song development came to a close, full production began in Burbank while voice and song recording began in New York City. The Beauty songs were recorded live with the orchestra and the voice cast in the room rather than overdubbed separately, in order to give the songs an cast album-like "energy" the filmmakers and songwriters desired.
During the course of production, many changes were made to the structure of the film, necessitating the replacement and re-purposing of songs. After screening a mostly animated version of the "Be Our Guest" sequence, story artist Bruce Woodside suggested that the objects should be singing the song to Belle rather than her father. Wise and Trousdale agreed, and the sequence and song were retooled to replace Maurice with Belle.
"Human Again" was dropped from the film before animation began, as its lyrics caused story problems about the timeline over which the story takes place. This required Ashman and Menken to write a new song in its place. "Something There", in which Belle and Beast sing (via voiceover) of their growing fondness for each other, was composed late in production and inserted into the script in place of "Human Again". Menken would later revise "Human Again" for inclusion in the 1994 Broadway stage version of Beauty and the Beast, and another revised version of the song was added to the film itself in a new sequence created for the film's Special Edition re-release in 2002.
Ashman died of AIDS-related complications on March 14, 1991, eight months prior to the release of the film. He never saw the finished film, and his work on Aladdin was completed by another lyricist, Tim Rice. A tribute to the lyricist was included at the end of the credits crawl: "To our friend, Howard, who gave a mermaid her voice, and a beast his soul. We will be forever grateful. Howard Ashman: 1950–1991".
A pop version of the "Beauty and the Beast" theme, performed by Céline Dion and Peabo Bryson over the end credits, was released as a commercial single from the film's soundrack, supported with a music video. The Dion/Bryson version of "Beauty and the Beast" became an international pop hit, reaching the Top Ten of the singles charts in the United States and the United Kingdom.
In the Special Edition DVD release, the second disc contained Jump 5's music video for Beauty And The Beast. The newly-released Diamond Edition contains Jordin Sparks' version of the song.
Upon the theatrical release of the finished version, the film was universally praised, with Roger Ebert giving it four stars out of four and saying that "Beauty and the Beast reaches back to an older and healthier Hollywood tradition in which the best writers, musicians and filmmakers are gathered for a project on the assumption that a family audience deserves great entertainment, too." The film received mostly positive reviews, among them some of the best notices the studio had received since the 1940s. Rotten Tomatoes, a film review aggregator, shows Beauty and the Beast with a 93% approval rating as of July 2010 averaged from 55 reviews of the original theatrical release and later theatrical and home video versions. The use of computer animation, particularly in the "Beauty and the Beast" ballroom sequence, was singled out in several reviews as one of the film's highlights.
Smoodin writes in his book Animating Culture that the studio was trying to make up for earlier gender stereotypes with this film. Smoodin also states that, in the way it has been viewed as bringing together traditional fairy tales and feminism as well as computer and traditional animation, the film’s "greatness could be proved in terms technology narrative or even politics". Another author writes that Belle "becomes a sort of intellectual less by actually reading books, it seems, than by hanging out with them," but says that the film comes closer than other “Disney-studio” films to "accepting challenges of the kind that the finest Walt Disney features met". David Whitley writes in The Idea of Nature in Disney Animation that Belle is different from earlier Disney heroines in that she is mostly free from the burdens of domestic housework, although her role is somewhat undefined in the same way that "contemporary culture now requires most adolescent girls to contribute little in the way of domestic work before they leave home and have to take on the fraught, multiple responsibilities of the working mother". Whitley also notes other themes and modern influences, such as the film's critical view of Gaston’s chauvinism and attitude towards nature, the cyborg-like servants, and the father’s role as an inventor rather than a merchant.
Betsy Hearne, editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, writes that the film belittles the original story's moral about "inner beauty", as well as the heroine herself, in favor of a more brutish struggle; "In fact," she says, "it is not Beauty's lack of love that almost kills Disney's beast, but a rival's dagger."
Stefan Kanfer writes in his book Serious Business that in this film "the tradition of the musical theater was fully co-opted", such as in the casting of Broadway performers Angela Lansbury and Jerry Orbach. IGN named Beauty and the Beast as the greastest animated film of all time, directly ahead of Wall-E.
Special Edition DVDEdit
Beauty and the Beast 2-Disc Special Edition (Platinum Edition) DVD was release on Oct. 2002. It was Fully Restored and Remastered with an All-New Remixed Soundtrack. The special edition includes a deleted song called "Human Again". The Special Edition DVD went to the Disney Vault (out-of-print) on Jan. 2002 along with its sequel (Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas). On October 5, 2010, Beauty and the Beast was released on Disney Blu-Ray and again in DisneyDigital 3D.
Diamond Edition DVDEdit
The film was released from the Disney vault on October 5, 2010 as the second of Disney's Diamond Editions, in the form of a 3-Disc-Blu-ray Disc and DVD combination pack; representing the first release of Beauty and the Beast on home video in high-definition format. This edition consists of four versions of the film: the original theatrical version, an extended version, the New York Film Festival storyboard-only version, and a fourth iteration displaying the storyboards via picture-in-picture alongside the original theatrical version. The bonus material contains never-before-seen art, making of video, and interviews along with new games activities. A two-disc DVD edition is scheduled to follow, with a release date of November 23, 2010.