Beauty and the Beast (1991)

Beauty and the Beast Movie Review

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Beauty and the Beast Movie Review

Beauty and the Beast is a 1991 animated musical romance film which is the 30th film in the Disney canon. It is the second Renaissance film that truly is magical.

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Tale as old as time, song as old as rhyme,

beauty and the beast

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Let’s talk about the plot first. Beauty and the Beast has the now famous storyline that has been adapted countless times for obvious reasons as it truly is a powerful fairy tale. I loved that opening quite a bit, it was very magical and a great fairy tale moment. I loved the first scenes with Belle as she is instantly likable and well developed. The arrival scenes are also really well done.

Then we have those many scenes where Belle and Beast’s relationship is explored and all are great. Those were my favorite moments from the movie as this is one of the rare instances where Disney developed a romantic relationship in a proper, slower and more realistic manner. The mob scene is overlong, but well realized and of course that whole extended ending is superb. I loved the fight scenes, but I just loved the finale as it was so emotionally and visually powerful.

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Beauty and the Beast Movie Review

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The characters are phenomenally depicted and the characterization is absolutely superb. Belle is such a fantastic Disney princess who manages to differentiate herself from all of the other princesses due to her reading hobby which is great and due to her more realistic, natural looks. I loved that down-to-earth approach with her and she really is a wonderful, strong female protagonist. The Beast is also excellent and to me the finest character here as he is so well developed and his behavior is so nuanced. I loved his interactions with his servants, but the romantic relationship is of course the heart and soul of this movie as it is so wonderfully executed and its development is just beautiful to follow.

Gaston is also a different villain as we finally have a good looking bad guy. That is the major thing that differentiates Beauty and the Beast from all of the previous Disney flicks – the villain is handsome whereas the prince is not. That approach is refreshing and it worked. Gaston is too over-the-top, but I found his arrogance amusing and he served as a pretty solid, if not great villain.

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Beauty and the Beast Movie Review

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LeFou as his henchman is very forgettable and doesn’t bring anything interesting or memorable to the table. Maurice is quite likable as Belle’s father and I loved their relationship. As for the servants, they are all quite memorable and likable. Mrs. Potts is great and Chip is endearing, Wardrobe has her moments and of course Lumiere and Cogsworth are the highlights as they are such a great comedic duo. Lumiere is also great on his own as his romantic excursions are very entertaining.

The animation in Beauty and the Beast is absolutely amazing. In fact, it is to me the finest animation of the Renaissance period and that really says a lot! The character designs are amazing, the attention to detail is evident and the colors are really well incorporated, ranging from colorful in the village to darker in the castle. The castle itself looks splendid and I gazed at its corridors amazed throughout the whole running time. Of course the dinner sequence is the highlight of the film in terms of the music, but also in terms of the animation as it is one of the earliest uses of computer animation in its backgrounds and that mix works in creating one of the best sequences ever for Disney. This animation hasn’t aged a day, it still looks absolutely terrific and it also has definite artistic sensibilities which I respect a lot.

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Beauty and the Beast Movie Review

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The soundtrack is for the most part excellent. But the score is just as good. That theme near the end is so majestic and just brilliant. And the entire movie before it is beautifully scored as well. Let’s talk about the songs. First off, I have to say that one of my biggest complaints while watching this movie has always been its number of songs and their quality. Yes, most of the songs are great, but some are unfortunately pretty mediocre and the film, although a musical, is still filled with way too many songs and it would have been much better if some of those weaker ones had been cut off. But at least those songs that are great are classics.

The film has just six songs which is weird as it feels that it has much more than that which is the testament to my problem as it uses too many reprises. The worst songs are of course Gaston and The Mob Song. The Mob Song is somewhat catchy and the sequence is necessary in terms of storytelling, but it is still a very forgettable and way too long song. Gaston is even an unnecessary song as we already know who this man is due to some great character development. Therefore, those very funny comedic bits during this number are not enough to compensate for a very forgettable and mediocre tune.

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Beauty and the Beast Movie Review

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Something There is a very good, romantic song with good lyrics and a wonderful scene accompanying it. It is definitely the most underrated song of the bunch that, although short, is still sweet. And now we come to those three major songs and all three are definitely fantastic and classics by now. Be Our Guest is the most entertaining song here and that scene is so well animated and very energetic. It is the best sequence for our sidekicks and the lyrics are so great, but the tune is wonderfully catchy and even majestic near the end with great vocals and a perfect execution.

Belle is the song that I wasn’t very fond of before as it isn’t my type of song, but it grew on me. It is very much like a Broadway song, but it works in creating this character and juxtaposing her against the background of the town and its redneck residents. The lyrics are also phenomenal and the song is very long, but because it is very good and the scene is great, it never becomes a nuisance. But I have to say that the reprise of the song is easily the better version which is weird as I usually tend to not like reprises as much, but this is one of the rare ones that trump the original. That is because that scenery, animation and overall scene is so powerful, the camera movements are wonderful and the song gets much more majestic in tone and in emotion.

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Beauty and the Beast Movie Review

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And yes, the highlight is the obvious one and that is Beauty and the Beast. This is not only the best song of this movie, but also one of the finest Disney songs ever in my opinion, a song that once again grew on me upon repeated listening and now I love it and respect it. That whole sequence has, as I mentioned above, absolutely breathtaking animation and the interior is just beautiful, but it is also the most romantic and emotionally rewarding scene in the movie and a scene that is built up in such a sophisticated, polished way. The lyrics are timeless as is the tone of the song, Angela Lansbury’s singing is beautiful, the music is swelling and it is such a special experience that stays with you long after you’ve first laid eyes and ears upon it.

The film has absolutely amazing cinematography with great camera movements. It is one of the most polished looking Disney flicks. The tone is wonderfully romantic, but also pleasantly dark an also comedic at times. The humor isn’t the greatest, but Gaston can be pretty funny at times and Lumiere is also one of the highlights. The dialogue is very good, the emotion is definitely felt, the script is quite sophisticated and realistic for the most part and the pacing is excellent as it moves in a tight manner and is consistently engaging. The animated costumes are amazing, that dress is iconic, the interiors are beautiful and the film has a lot of detail. It also has that great fairy tale feel to it which is essential for a Disney film to become a classic.

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Beauty and the Beast Movie Review

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Beauty and the Beast isn’t perfect because there are too many songs and some songs are not that great, but the film also has too many characters, of which not everyone is fantastic (LeFou immediately comes to mind). And for a movie that is proud of being sophisticated, it does have its simplistic moments with Gaston’s theatricality and villainy being very childish. But apart from those things, the movie is great and although ‘The Little Mermaid’ is a much better film in my opinion, Beauty and the Beast is still one of the very best films of the Renaissance period, even better than ‘Aladdin’ and the ‘The Lion King’. It was deservedly nominated for Best Picture and it maybe should have won and its masterpiece and classic status is very much deserved.

Beauty and the Beast is a Disney classic with unforgettable, powerful songs such as Belle, Be Our Guest and of course breathtaking Beauty and the Beast. It also has absolutely terrific animation, many powerful and instantly recognizable sequences and it succeeds as a romance because the relationship is so well depicted and the emotion is felt. It isn’t perfect however as some of the songs aren’t that great and some moments are too over-the-top, but this film is mostly terrific with a sophisticated script, a great soundtrack, memorable characters and such an iconic animation.

My Rating – 4.5

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Posted in 1990s, 1991, Animated, Disney, Fantasy, FILM DECADES, MOVIE REVIEWS, Musical, Romance and tagged , , , , , .

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