Friday, February 8, 2013

#907. Beauty and the Beast (1991)

Directed By: Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise

Starring: Paige O'Hara, Robby Benson, Richard White

Tag line: "The most beautiful love story ever told"

Trivia: This was the first animated movie to win the Annie Award for Best Animated Film

Beauty and the Beast is Disney’s masterpiece, a flawless blend of action and romance that’s as much a Broadway-style musical as it is a stirring fantasy.

The Beast (voiced by Robbie Benson) had been a mortal prince until an enchantress’s spell turned him into a monster. This same spell that transformed the prince also took effect on his servants, changing them into everyday household items; his butler Cogsworth (David Ogden-Steirs) became a clock, his maid (Angela Lansbury) a teapot, and so on. The only way this spell can be broken is if the Beast falls in love, and gets that person to love him in return, before his 21st birthday. Belle (Paige O'Hara) lives in a small village with her father, Maurice (Rex Everhart). Her neighbors consider her peculiar because she’s always got her nose buried in a book, and what’s more, she rebuffs the advances of Gaston (Richard White), the local blowhard who intends to marry Belle (whether she’ll have him or not). But Belle's life forever changes the day her father heads out to a fair, and happens upon the Beast’s castle, where he's immediately taken prisoner. When Belle, in at attempt to save Maurice, offers to take his place, the Beast is moved by her gesture and allows Maurice to go free, keeping Belle locked away instead. Over time, though, Belle begins to look at The Beast in a different light, and realizes he’s not as frightening as he appears. In fact, she may just be falling in love with him.

Beauty and the Beast is tremendous fun, most of which is the result of its terrific musical sequences. The title number, sung by Angela Lansbury’s Mrs. Potts as Belle and the Beast enjoy a dinner date (complete with dancing), is wonderfully romantic, while “Be Our Guest”, belted out by Lumiere the candelabra (voiced by Jerry Orbach), boasts silverware strutting about as if it were choreographed by Busby Berkeley. Its story of an unlikely romance, based on an 18th century fairy tale, is told with the kind of energy and flair that only Disney can conjure up. All this, combined with stunning animation, makes Beauty and the Beast the total package.

Beauty and the Beast was up for Best Picture in 1991, the first Disney animated feature ever to be nominated in that category, and after one viewing you'll know why. A movie as entertaining for adults as it is for children, Beauty and the Beast is an absolute delight.

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