'Beauty and the Beast: 25th Anniversary Edition'
(Paige O'Hara, Robby Benson, Richard White, Jerry Orbach, David Ogden Stiers / 2-Disc Blu ray+DVD / G / 2016 / Disney)
Overview: Be our guest at the enchanted 25th Anniversary celebration of 'BEAUTY AND THE BEAST', universally acclaimed as one of Disney's finest animated features and now honored in the Walt Disney Signature Collection. Join brave, independent Belle on the adventure of a lifetime as she sets out to rescue her father and finds herself in the enchanted castle of a mysterious beast.
Blu ray Verdict: In truth, words still continue to fail me as I try to express my feelings about Disney's incredible 'Beauty and the Beast' - the best cartoon movie ever made (IMHO)! Praise is all that I can find for it and anything that I or any fan writes about it simply cannot do justice to this tour-de-force of top-class animation and elegant story-telling.
Indeed, 'Beauty and the Beast' marks one of the first, and best uses of digital animation for the range of human emotions that it captures. Even today, there is no sequence as memorable as the ballroom sequence where Belle and the Beast dance to the strains of the title tune. Speaking of tunes, no mention of this movie's artistic merits is ever complete without a mention of the songs. The lyrics written by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman are absolutely poetic (Tale as old as time/Song as old as rhyme) and the voicing of the songs by Angela Lansbury, Celine Dion, Peabo Bryson and others is simply incredible! The two best song sequences in the movie are 'Be My Guest' and 'Tale as old as time'.
The script is excellent taking the old but fairly well-known fable and developing it into something modern yet touching and poignant. The new innovations of the scriptwriters to the original story such as putting a feminist touch on Belle, the development of the relationship between Belle and the Beast, the talking cutlery are fully fleshed out and have been integrated into the pace, moving the story forward and never slowing it down.
The characters are sharply developed. Belle is a vibrant bookish girl who lives in a world of fairy tales, yet dearly loves her wacky but likable inventor father. Also it is worth mentioning that she is shown to have an individualistic bent of mind who sees the handsome but shallow Gaston for what he is and spurns his advances. She has the spunk to wear the type of clothes and act the way she wants unlike the other dumb village girls.At first she fears the Beast, but when he saves her she appreciates him and finds the prince within the Beast. She is intelligent, compassionate and has a mind of her own. She's also very outspoken and courageous as is evidenced by her opting to take her father's place in the Beast's castle and in her tirade of reason against the Beast when he rebukes her for putting herself into danger by trying to run away from the castle.
With her strong personality, she makes a terrific role model for young girls everywhere. Long before Titanic, this was the first successful attempt at female empowerment. The Beast is a fierce ape-like creature whose short temper stems from his frustration at being unable to find true love. Gaston the narcissistic village champion who thinks that brawns are more important than brains is ridiculed by the movie and eventually exposed as its villain. Even minor supporting characters such as the clock, the lamp and the teapot are fleshed out and will enchant both kids and adults alike.
I actually started crying during the movie's finale when the Beast dies after the struggle with Gaston and my sorrow was turned into joy when the curse is broken and the Beast gets transformed into a handsome prince. The transformation effects are simply mind-blowing (for a cartoon movie!).
Some eighteen years after its release this movie only gets better with time. Cynics who normally dismiss cartoons and G-rated fare should see this movie and experience a change of heart. If this movie does not move them, then they should go admit themselves into a morgue!
As for this lovely 25th Anniversary Edition release from Disney DVD, well, here on the Blu-ray+DVD set we get 3 versions of the film right off the bat! Yep, we get the Original Theatrical version, the Special Edition, and a Sing-Along version! Along with them we are treated to a peak into the actual Recording Sessions with the original cast, 25 Fun Facts about the film, and so much more! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.77:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
3 Versions Of The Film: Original Theatrical, Special Edition and Sing-Along
Menken & Friends: 25 Years Of Musical Inspiration
The Recording Sessions [Vocal Magic with The Cast]
#1074: Walt, Fairy Tales & Beauty & The Beast
25 Fun Facts About Beauty & The Beast [Hosted by Gus Kamp & Kayla Maisonet]
Audio Commentary by Directors Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale, Producer Don Hahn and Composer Alan Menken
Official Recording Sessions Video