A tale as old as time, song as old as rhyme, Beauty and the Beast 3D is simply sublime. It is easy to see why it was the first animated feature to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards ™. It actually won 2 Oscars ™ for its music: Alan Menkin won for Best Music, Original Score and Menkin and Howard Ashman won for Best Music, Original Song (“Beauty and the Beast”).
Is this just Disney capitalizing on the success of The Lion King in 3D released last year? Definitely. That doesn’t take away from the fact that this film, which originally debuted in 1991, is just as enchanting as ever and is well on its way to proving why it will stand the tests of time as an eternal classic. The story is superbly told, the characters are well defined and quite endearing, it teaches us wonderful values and the songs are fantastic.
It is a beautiful thing that those who were around to enjoy it the first time can now share it on the big screen with their children in all of its Disney Digital 3D™ splendor.
Beauty and the Beast 3D is directed by Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise and features the voices of Paige O’Hara, Robby Benson, Richard White, Jerry Orbach, David Ogden Stiers, Angela Lansbury, Bradley Michael Pierce, Rex Everhart, Jesse Corti, Jo Anne Worley and Kimmy Robertson.
We learn from the prologue that there was once a spoiled, selfish and unkind prince who lived in a castle. An old beggar woman comes to his door asking for some shelter from the cold for the evening. She offers in return a beautiful rose. The prince is so put off by her appearance that he shoos her away. Before she leaves she begs the prince to reconsider, explaining to him that looks can be deceiving and that beauty can be found within. The prince doesn’t listen and is punished with a curse, a curse that turns him into a hideous beast and his entire household into inanimate objects. The ONLY way to break the curse is for the prince to learn how to truly love and be loved. If this does not happen, and the last pedal from the flower falls by his 21st birthday, the curse will remain intact forever! She leaves him with a magic mirror that is to be his only contact with the world.
Enter Belle (O’Hare) with the film’s opening musical number “Belle (Bonjour).” Belle is smart, witty, kind and beautiful. She is a book-worm who dreams of something more than the small town “provincial life.” She sings and dances her way through town, stopping along the way to say hello and good morning to the good town folk as she is on her way to the bookstore to borrow another book. She picks a book she has read before that is filled with far off places, magic spells and princes in disguise (foreshadow much?).
Despite her pleasant demeanor, the town’s citizens still describe her as strange, different, odd and peculiar. Apparently it was frowned upon in those days for a woman to like to read or God forbid formulate her own ideas. Belle is the perfect Disney Princess and is a role model to young girls everywhere because she is so much more than just a pretty face. She strives to be a complete, balanced person. She even lives at home and takes care of her absent-minded inventor father Maurice (Everhart).
Belle’s main suitor is Gaston (White) who is the strongest and most handsomest fella in the town. He has a huge barrel chest and muscles everywhere except inside his otherwise flawless cranium. He is crude, rude and is only looking for a woman who can breed him strapping young sons. Of course he is followed all around by his lackey Le Fou (Corti) and The Bimbettes (that is honestly how they are listed in the credits), a trio of extremely buxom blondes who just giggle all the time and are broken hearted when Gaston sets his sights on Belle. Gaston is ruthless and will stop at nothing to get what he wants. Gaston is exactly the guy you warn your daughters to stay away from! Belle is smart and tells him thanks but no thanks!
Maurice decides to go unveil his new wood chopping machine invention at a local fair. He gets very lost in the woods and ends up at the enchanted castle where he is imprisoned by The Beast (Benson). Belle comes to rescue him and despite his protests, agrees to be The Beast’s prisoner so her father can go free and return home. Belle promises that she will never leave ($5 says she breaks that promise). The Beast then explains to her that there is only one rule: You do NOT talk about fight club! Just kidding, the only rule is that she is not allowed in the West Wing (double or nothing she breaks this rule too 🙂
The entire castle’s staff is just as charming as we remember them to be. Mrs. Potts (Landsbury) is as maternal as her little tea cup Chip (Pierce) is precocious. Lumiére (Orbach) is still quite the ladies’ candelabra especially with Babette the Featherduster (Roberts) and Cogsworth (Stiers) is as uptight of a clock as ever. It is really fun to watch them help Belle and The Beast find their way to one another. Their shining moment is still their ensemble musical number serenade of Belle: “Be Our Guest.”
Of course much of their effort is put into getting their master to control his temper! They try and coach him to be kinder and gentler with Belle. Mrs. Potts and Lumiére tell him: Smile but don’t frighten her. Impress her with your rapier wit but be gentle. Shower her with compliments but be sincere. The animators did an excellent job because you can see the thought lines in The Beast’s forehead as he is receiving these tips.
All hell breaks loose when Belle breaks from her Cogswell guided tour of the castle to go check out the West Wing (pay up suckers!). The Beast finds her there and goes wild (sorry, had to do it) so Belle storms out of the castle and runs away (shouldn’t have gone double or nothing). The Beast chases after her, saves her and brings her back to the castle.
The next part of the film is the absolute best! The Beast learns to control his temper as Belle cleans his wounds. Belle is angry with him because he yelled at her and he is mad at her because she left. You get the sense that Belle is glad to be “home” and they start to grow closer. The Beast realizes he truly has feelings for Belle and wants to do something nice for her. He makes her close her eyes and takes her to a special room that he hopes she will love. She opens her eyes and all she sees is wall to wall books, from floor to ceiling. NAILED IT! Way better than Cogsworth’s suggestions of chocolate, flowers or promises you have no intentions to keep ?
It must be time for another amazing song. “Something There” plays in the background as Belle slurps her soup along with The Beast since he has trouble with the spoon and as Belle shows The Beast how to get the little birdies to eat the food out of his paws without being scared. It’s working!!!!!!!!!
They say if you truly love something then you have to set it free and if it comes back to you then it was meant to be. Belle sees (through the magic mirror) that her father is ill and becomes very sad. The Beast encourages her to go take care of him. He truly loves her, but that is not enough because she has to love him back but she is now gone! He sends her with the magic mirror so she can still see him (foreshadowing) whenever she wants.
By this time though, back home Gaston has hatched a plan to force Belle into marrying him. He threatens to turn Belle’s father into the loony bin if she doesn’t agree to marry him. See, Maurice had been telling everyone about this big, scary beast but had no proof. Belle uses the mirror to show everyone that her father isn’t crazy and The Beast is real. This backfires as Gaston’s hunter ego kicks in and he whips up the villagers into a frenzy to go storm the castle and allow Gaston to kill The Beast.
The castle defends itself from the villagers as Gaston seeks The Beast. Gaston finds him alone in a room. The Beast is too broken hearted to even put up a fight as Gaston fires an arrow into his back. The Beast and Gaston’s fight spills outside into the pouring rain. Belle arrives and inspires The Beast to fight back and he vanquishes Gaston but he himself is stabbed deeply. Belle is crying and takes The Beast into her arms and proclaims her love for him. Is it too late?
No! Special curse breaking rain starts falling and started returning everyone back to their natural form. At first Beauty doesn’t recognize The Beast in his human form but she looks in his eyes and knows it is him. Next thing you know the whole staff is in the ballroom and Belle (in her beautiful gold gown) and The Beast, in human form, dance to the reprisal of the titular “Beauty and the Beast.”
The 3D gave the film a lot of depth, especially during the action sequences and times like when it was snowing. It seems as though they spruced up the animation as well because it looked more vibrant and colorful than ever. The truth is, this movie has always been special and amongst Disney’s best but in 3D it really popped. The 3D helps keep Beauty and the Beast #1 in your hearts.
In the end, Belle got the life she had been dreaming of with a prince included! The prince learned how to appreciate true beauty no matter what physical form it may take. He wasn’t The Beast because he LOOKED like it; it was because he ACTED like it. The moral of the story is, at least in the Disney Universe, if you do the right thing for the right reasons, things will work out because as we all know, love conquers all!
The real world might not work that way, but Beauty and the Beast 3D sure does and for 87 glorious and magical minutes, your world will too. Whether you are reliving a period in your life or sharing this gem with the new generation, treat yourself to this film.