film review

Review | Beauty and the Beast – 1991

For many, and for me as well, the live action version of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast – which will premiere this month – is a dream come true. The main roles in the upcoming movie will be played by Emma Watson, Luke Evans and Dan Stevens. With Beauty and the Beast coming to the big screen, it is a great time to re-watch the original animated version of 1990. 

Every Disney fan is familiar with the story about the young woman who wants more out of life than living in a farming village. Those who can not remember the story for some reason, I give you a short description of Disney’s magical animated film.

Disney’s adaptation tells the story of a father and his daughter living in a French village. Maurice is an inventor who hopes to build a new life for him and his daughter Belle. During his tour to promote his invention at the fair, he gets lost in the woods and eventually ends up in a huge castle. A castle with a huge secret which accommodates magical creatures and the lord of the castle: the Beast. When Belle looks for father, and so reaches the castle as well, she takes her father’s place as prisoner of the Beast. During her stay in the castle she meets all the magical people and ultimately creates a bond with the Beast. But then there’s Gaston, the macho man of the village who has put his sights on Belle. Many know how the story ends, but for the people who do not know: Watch the movie, and fast!

Disney’s version of this folktale was not the first adaptation, nor the last version. The first published version of this traditional French folk tale was a rendition by Madame Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve in 1740. The best-known version is a shortened version of M. Villeneuves work from 1756. In 1987 there was a television series, which got a remake in 2012. There is a musical version of it, and in 2014 a new film was made withn Léa Seydoux and Vincent Cassel in the lead roles. But Disney’s 1991 version is the most magical and musical version of all. The film is Disney’s 30th animated film, based on the eponymous folk tale by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont. The film is directed by Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise. The screenplay was written by Linda Woolverton, music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Howard Ashman. Thanks to the latter two gentlemen the film won two Oscars: Best original music and best song for Beauty and the Beast. Menken also works on the upcoming live action version, so that means a lot of good! Besides the two Oscars, the film has won several Golden Globes and Grammys as well!

The fact that the film won awards for best music, it is impossible to say nothing about the various songs. Beautiful ballads, swinging songs, hilarious songs. The film has it all. The song Be Our Guest is for both Belle as the viewer fascinating, because this is the moment when we see how magical the castle actually is. The song Gaston is especially for the older ones among us, very hilarious. Remember the line when Gaston winks and says he is covered with a hair. Awkward… The beautiful and romantic song Beauty and the Beast is the moment when Belle and the Beast dance and come closer to each other. While Mrs. Potts sings, Cogsworth and Lumière look towards this special moment with the hope Belle is the woman who can break the spell. For the Beast, who is actually a prince, was not always kind and charming.

Who is also not that charming, is Gaston. Although some think he is the man of the village. Large, muscular, popular and a champion in shooting animals. But according Belle also rude and conceited and not a match for her. Gaston’s buddy Lefou is a hilarious character. These two men are each other’s opposites in terms of size, what makes their shared scenes quite amusing. But towards the end of the film, a scene between Gaston and Lefou can be quite scary for children. This is the moment when Gaston lefou and the rest of the men of the village marching to the castle to Kill the Beast. But that’s not the scene which can be frightened for the youngest. There are two scenes involving wolves that I always wanted to skip when I was young.

But the two funniest characters are surely Cogsworth and Lumière, the clock and the candle and the who can not wait to take their human forms again. Lumière is a charmeur and Cogsworth is someone who has his rules and loves the history of the castle: “You have barracks and baroque.”

The film has several magical moments. The romantic dance, the musical moment when Lumière shows the how magical the castle is, and the end: The moment the Beast takes his human form. An anticlimax for those who have become accustomed to the large and aggressive beast. Despite the old-fashioned method of making an animated film, the magic really comes to life in the film. The atmosphere, the music, the fun characters and, of course, the drawings and the magical story make this film one of Disney’s favorites among the classic Disney animated films. The various adaptations and the upcoming live action version, makes this story timeless. Even though it is a complete fantasy, a  mean person can become good with the help of the right person. We have to wait a few weeks before we can see Emma Watson in the yellow dress, but we are ready for it!


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