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Beauty and the Beast

MovieMeditation presents...
total movie count ........... viewing day count
260 .......................... 297


October 25th

—— 1991 ——
and the

—— animation ——

Disney dims down the exterior without dumbing down the interior and presents
what is probably their most restrained and well-rounded release as of yet

‘Beauty and the Beast’ is a beautifully animated film that works both as a fantasy world for the eyes, a feast for the ears and a fascinating fairytale for the heart and soul. Drawing a line between the early days of Disney and the newly rendered Renaissance of the animation studio is something that is fairly easy to do, since so much looked to be going on at the time. The studio began to deliver some deeper, darker and more controlled creations, which stood out for their quality and craftsmanship. When compared to other works by Disney, this film right here feels like a completely different beast all together…

Opening with musical number that sets the tone and tells us a little about the town and the characters in it, this movie is already flying fast and far above the sky right from the start. Actually, the frame is literally flying above and around the beautifully animated city, pushing the technology of panning and constantly changing compositions in revolutionary ways. Disney definitely didn’t put a lid on the fact that they had become capable of creating pans and spins with such expressive cinematic eloquence. I seem to remember a scene in particular, out of the obvious ones like the ball room dance, which had Mrs. Potts and Chip in it and used a beautiful pan. It comes to mind because I seem to recall the fact that I dubbed it the “pots and pans” scene. And talking about pots and pans and whatnot, the musical number ‘Be Our Guest’ comes to mind, which is just so beautiful and entertaining.

The story of the beast is deep, detailed and dangerously sympathetic. How he was once a prince, brought up on his desire and surrounded by luxury, confronted by the ugliness of the realities of our world that he knew nothing of, only to be cursed for his apparent selfishness and arrogance. Alone in a castle and challenged by time, he must find someone who can love him for who he is. But is there anyone out there who can look past the predatory appearance of his outer, which is also reflected inward? Can he change fast enough and convince the world in time? Luckily, the perfect girl is out there and her name is Belle. Unfortunately, she has already caught the attention of another person, the arrogant imbecile, Gaston, who actually loves himself more than anyone else. He is the direct opposite of the beast, a man who is all muscle and no heart (or mind for that matter). Anyways, Belle has no interest in Gaston for obvious reasons and when a string of unfortunate events brings Belle and the beast together, they both realize that these unfortunate events might be fate after all.

As the song goes, this tale is truly as old as time, but Disney manages to magnify the movie by bringing their trademark magic and mindset to an otherwise worn out thought immensely wonderful tale. The telling of beauty and the beast has been told time and time again, and while it is definitely timeless, the story is not free from failing and merely fumbling with greatness won't guarantee success. Disney could have easily bowed under to elevated entertainment instead of evolved emotions or made this movie too cute for the otherwise cold and rather depressing premise. Thankfully, Disney dances with ease between both beast and man, creating a very balanced story of beauty, love and tragedy with a little bit of humor and a great deal of heart. To be honest, this might be Disney at their most daring and down to earth yet. It feels like they have finally come close to creating a real movie, with real characters and genuine emotions…