- “The most beautiful love story ever told.”
Beauty and the Beast is a 1991 romantic musical comedy fantasy animated film produced at Walt Disney Feature Animation. It is the 30th film in the Disney Animated Canon and the third film in the Disney Renaissance. The film is based on the fairy tale La Belle et la Bête by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont (which was based on a more detailed story of the same name and plot, written by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve), and uses some ideas from the 1946 film of the same name. The film tells the story of a prince who is transformed into a Beast and a young woman named Belle whom he imprisons in his castle. To become a prince again, the Beast must learn to love Belle and win her love in return before the last petal falls from an Enchanted Rose, or he will remain a Beast forever.
The film's animation screenplay was written by Linda Woolverton with story written by Roger Allers, Brenda Chapman, Chris Sanders, Burny Mattinson, Kevin Harkey, Brian Pimental, Bruce Woodside, Joe Ranft, Tom Ellery, Kelly Ashbury, and Robert Lence, directed by Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise, and produced by Don Hahn. The music of the film was composed by Alan Menken and the lyrics for the film were written by Howard Ashman (who also served as the film's executive producer), both of whom had written the music and songs for The Little Mermaid, a previous Disney film.
Beauty and the Beast was released on November 13, 1991. The film was met with universal acclaim from both critics and audiences and was a significant commercial success earning over $424 million at the box office throughout the world. Beauty and the Beast was also nominated for several awards, and won the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy (For the first time in an animated movie), with two other awards for its music. Famously, Beauty and the Beast was the first ever animated film to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture, and was the only animated film to hold this honor until 2009, when the Academy Awards switched from 5 Best Picture nominations to 10, and Pixar's animated film Up was nominated. It remains the only traditionally animated film to be nominated. Beauty and the Beast received a total of six nominations, including Best Picture, Best Original Score, Best Sound, and three nominations for its song. It ended up winning two, for Best Original Score and Best Original Song for the song "Beauty and the Beast".
A direct-to-video midquel called Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas was released in 1997. It was followed in 1998 by another midquel, Belle's Magical World, and later by a stage production of the same name and a television spin-off series, Sing Me a Story with Belle. An IMAX special edition version of the original film was released in 2002, with a new five-minute musical sequence included. After the success of the 3D re-release of The Lion King in 2011, Disney announced the film will return to theaters for a limited time in 3-D on January 13, 2012. On March 2017, a live-action re-imagining was released.
Beauty and the Beast is considered by many as the greatest animated film of all time.
In the prologue, as told through stain-glass windows, a selfish French prince is visited by an old beggar woman who offers to give him a rose if he provides her with shelter, but the prince refused on account of her hideous appearance and also blows her off again when she warns him not to judge people by looks. The woman is revealed to be a magical enchantress who curses the prince by turning him into a hideous-looking beast and also curses his castle and its inhabitants. The rose is revealed to be enchanted and it will bloom until his 21st birthday and wilt away, which will cement the transformation unless the Beast finds some woman to love and earn her love in return.
A decade later, in a small town, a beautiful bookworm girl named Belle is seen as strange by the townsfolks. The popular town hunter, Gaston lusts after her, but Belle tries to avoid him because of his arrogance. Belle's dad, Maurice is also an outcast among the townsfolk due to his erratic inventions. When Maurice leaves to go to a fair, he ends up getting lost and stumbles upon the Beast's castle where he is greeted by the castle employees who have transformed into anthropomorphic household objects: Cogsworth, the uptight butler who ended up being cursed as a mantle clock; Lumière, a kind-hearted maître d’ who ended up becoming a candelabra; Mrs. Potts, the housekeeper who was changed into a teapot, along, her son Chip and his brothers, now teacups, along with a whole bunch of others. With the exception of Cogsworth, the enchanted servants provide hospitality to Maurice, but the Beast comes to lock him up in the dungeon for trespassing into his castle.
After Belle turns down Gaston's marriage proposal (made ludicrous by the fact that he organized a wedding just outside her house, foolishly expecting her to accept out of the blue), Maurice's horse comes back and takes Belle to the castle where she soon finds Maurice in the dungeon, but she soon meets the Beast. In exchange for her dad's freedom, Belle offers to be the Beast's prisoner in his stead. The Beast agrees and lets Maurice go and he and his servants plan to make Belle try to fall for him in order to revoke the curse, which is hampered when the Beast's nasty temper makes Belle spurn coming to dinner with him. Back at the village at Gaston's tavern, Gaston is still reeling from Belle's rejection, but his spirits are lifted when his lackey, LeFou, and the townspeople sing about how no man measures up to him. Maurice bursts in and frantically seeks assistance to save Belle from the Beast at the castle, which earns him nothing more than ridicule and rejection by the townsfolk, who simply dismiss him as "Crazy old Maurice".
Belle curiously decides to explore around the castle where she meets the servants and at her request, they give her some dinner despite the Beast's orders against it. She soon enters the West Wing, which is the one section of the castle the Beast ordered her not to, and she happens upon the enchanted rose. But before she touches it, the Beast arrives and frightens her out of the West Wing and out of the castle. Belle tries to escape to the forest, but she is confronted by a pack of wolves (who earlier tried to kill Maurice). Before she is eaten by them, however, the Beast arrives and saves her, but he gets wounded by the wolves in the process. She takes him back to the castle where their relationship begins to slowly improve as the Beast begins acting more selfless, even giving Belle access to a library where she can read all of the books she wants. Meanwhile, inspired by Maurice's 'crazy' story about the Beast, Gaston bribes the head warden of the local insane asylum, Monsieur D'Arque, to incarcerate Maurice unless Belle concurs to wed him. When they go to Belle's cottage, they find it empty as Maurice just left before they arrive, so he forces LeFou to stay at the house until they return.
After sharing a romantic dance, the Beast lets Belle use a magic mirror to see her father and discover that he's lost in the woods. Seeing her worried, the Beast decides to let Belle leave the castle to save her father. The servants are horrified when Cogsworth tells them this news, fearing that their one chance to be human again was squandered. When Belle gets Maurice back home, they soon find that Chip has stowed away into Belle's bag. They are soon interrupted by the villagers, led by Gaston, who arrived to send Maurice to the asylum. After rejecting Gaston again, Belle proves that her father is telling the truth by showing everyone the Beast with the magic mirror, which the Beast let her take with her. Seeing that Belle has feelings for the Beast, Gaston twists the truth that the Beast is a monstrous creature and convinces the villagers to attack him, and they lock Belle and Maurice in the cottage den to prevent them from meddling. Luckily, Belle and Maurice are soon freed by Chip, who uses Maurice's invention that he was going to take to the fair earlier.
At the castle, the servants discover the mob trying to storm the castle and soon get the jump on them when they break open the castle doors. While the servants battle and chase off the entire townsfolk, Gaston soon finds the depressed Beast in the West Wing. They have a fight outside in the rain, where Gaston taunts the Beast for his feelings to Belle. When he sees Belle has returned to the castle, he finds the strength to defend himself and threatens to drop Gaston off the rooftops, but he becomes merciful and doesn't. As the Beast attempts to reunite with Belle, Gaston stabs Beast in the back, but this causes him to fall from the rooftops to his demise. The Beast dies in Belle's arms, and she tearfully proclaims her love for him. This causes the curse to finally be lifted and revive the Beast and turn him and all of his servants back into humans. Belle and the now human Beast have a dance in celebration of the event.
- Paige O'Hara as Belle
- Robby Benson as Beast
- Richard White as Gaston
- Jerry Orbach as Lumiere
- Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Potts
- David Ogden Stiers as Cogsworth/Narrator
- Bradley Michael Pierce as Chip
- Jesse Corti as LeFou
- Rex Everhart as Maurice
- Hal Smith as Philippe
- Jo Anne Worley as Wardrobe
- Kimmy Robertson as Fifi
- Frank Welker as Footstool, aka Sultan, Wolves
- Mary Kay Bergman and Kath Soucie as the Bimbettes
- Tony Jay as Monsieur D'Arque
- Jack Angel as Tavern Man, Tom
- Alec Murphy as Baker
- Bill Farmer as Stanley
- Alix Korey as Singer
- Mickie McGowan as French Peasant Woman
- Patrick Pinney as Walter
- Phil Proctor as Dick
- Ron Faber as Wolves
- Bruce Adler
- Scott Barnes
- Vanna Bonta
- Maureen Brennan
- Liz Callaway
- Philip Clarke
- Margery Daley
- Jennifer Darling
- Albert de Ruiter
- George Dvorsky
- Bruce Fifer
- Johnson Flucker
- Larry Hansen
- Randy Hansen
- Mary Ann Hart
- Phyllis Kubey
- Hearndon Lackey
- Sherry Lynn
- Larry Moss
- Panchali Null
- Wilbur Pauley
- Jennifer Perito
- Caroline Peyton
- Cynthia Richards-Hewes
- Stephani Ryan
- Gordon Stanley
- Stephen Sturk
- Main article: Beauty and the Beast Original Screenplay
The story was originally going to have a vastly different beginning that was closer to the original tale, where Maurice was a broke merchant, Belle's family was forced to move to a farmhouse and nearly losing it due to not keeping up with taxes, and Maurice ends up discovering the Beast's castle after getting lost while searching for a potential buyer for his late wife's music box. It was cut because of Jeffrey Katzenberg considering it far too dark and dramatic.
Production of Beauty and the Beast had to be completed on a compressed timeline of two years rather than four because of the loss of production time spent developing the earlier Purdam version of the film. Most of the production was done at the main Feature Animation studio, housed in the Air Way facility in Glendale, California. A smaller team at the Disney-MGM Studios theme park in Lake Buena Vista, Florida assisted the California team on several scenes, particularly the "Be Our Guest" number.
Beauty and the Beast was the second film produced using CAPS (Computer Animation Production System), a digital scanning, ink, paint, and compositing system of software and hardware developed for Disney by Pixar. The software allowed a wider range of colors, as well as soft shading and colored line effects for the characters, techniques lost when the Disney studio abandoned hand inking for xerography in the late 1950s. CAPS also allowed the production crew to simulate multiplane effects: placing characters and/or backgrounds on separate layers and moving them towards/away from the camera on the Z-axis to give the illusion of depth, as well as altering the focus of each layer.
In addition, CAPS allowed an easier combination of hand-drawn art with computer-generated imagery, which before had to be plotted to animation cells and painted traditionally. The latter technique was put to significant use during the "Beauty and the Beast" waltz sequence, in which Belle and Beast dance through a computer-generated ballroom as the camera dollies around them in simulated 3D space. The filmmakers had originally decided against the use of computers in favor of traditional animation, but later, when the technology had improved, decided it could be used for the one scene in the ballroom. The success of the ballroom sequence helped convince studio executives to further invest in computer animation.
Ashman and Menken wrote the songs during the pre-production process in Fishkill, the opening operetta-styled "Belle" being their first composition for the film. Other songs included "Be Our Guest", sung to Maurice by the objects when he becomes the first visitor to the castle in a decade, "Gaston", a solo for the swaggering villain, "Human Again", a song describing Belle and Beast's growing love from the objects' perspective, the love ballad "Beauty and the Beast", and the climatic "The Mob Song".
As story and song development came to a close, full production began in Burbank while voice and song recording began in New York City. The songs were recorded live with the orchestra and the voice cast in the room rather than overdubbed separately, in order to give the songs a cast album-like "energy" the filmmakers and songwriters desired.
During the course of production, many changes were made to the structure of the film, necessitating the replacement and re-purposing of songs. After screening a mostly animated version of the "Be Our Guest" sequence, story artist Bruce Woodside suggested that the objects should be singing the song to Belle rather than her father. Wise and Trousdale agreed, and the sequence and song were retooled to replace Maurice with Belle.
"Human Again" was dropped from the film before animation began, as its lyrics caused story problems about the timeline over which the story takes place. This required Ashman and Menken to write a new song in its place. "Something There", in which Belle and Beast sing (via voiceover) of their growing fondness for each other, was composed late in production and inserted into the script in place of "Human Again". Menken would later revise "Human Again" for inclusion in the 1994 Broadway stage version of Beauty and the Beast, and another revised version of the song was added to the film itself in a new sequence created for the film's Special Edition re-release in 2002.
Ashman died of AIDS-related complications on March 14, 1991, eight months prior to the release of the film. He never saw the finished film, and his work on Aladdin was completed by another lyricist, Tim Rice. A tribute to the lyricist was included at the end of the credits crawl: "To our friend, Howard, who gave a mermaid her voice, and a beast his soul. We will be forever grateful. Howard Ashman: 1950–1991".
A pop version of the "Beauty and the Beast" theme, performed by Céline Dion and Peabo Bryson over the end credits, was released as a commercial single from the film's soundtrack, supported with a music video. The Dion/Bryson version of "Beauty and the Beast" became an international pop hit, reaching the Top Ten of the singles charts in the United States and the United Kingdom.
Upon the theatrical release of the finished version, the film was universally praised, with Roger Ebert giving it four stars out of four and saying that "Beauty and the Beast reaches back to an older and healthier Hollywood tradition in which the best writers, musicians, and filmmakers are gathered for a project on the assumption that a family audience deserves great entertainment, too." The film received mostly positive reviews, among them some of the best notices the studio had received since the 1940s. Rotten Tomatoes, a film review aggregator, shows Beauty and the Beast with a 94% approval rating averaged from 108 reviews of the original theatrical release and later theatrical and home video versions. The use of computer animation, particularly in the "Beauty and the Beast" ballroom sequence, was singled out in several reviews as one of the film's highlights.
Smoodin writes in his book Animating Culture that the studio was trying to make up for earlier gender stereotypes with this film. Smoodin also states that in the way it has been viewed as bringing together traditional fairy tales and feminism as well as computer and traditional animation, the film's "greatness could be proved in terms technology narrative or even politics". Another author writes that Belle "becomes a sort of intellectual less by actually reading books, it seems, than by hanging out with them," but says that the film comes closer than other “Disney-studio” films to "accepting challenges of the kind that the finest Walt Disney features met". David Whitley writes in The Idea of Nature in Disney Animation that Belle is different from earlier Disney heroines in that she is mostly free from the burdens of domestic housework, although her role is somewhat undefined in the same way that "contemporary culture now requires most adolescent girls to contribute little in the way of domestic work before they leave home and have to take on the fraught, multiple responsibilities of the working mother." Whitley also notes other themes and modern influences, such as the film's critical view of Gaston's chauvinism and attitude towards nature, the cyborg-like servants, and the father's role as an inventor rather than a merchant.
Betsy Hearne, the editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, writes that the film belittles the original story's moral about "inner beauty," as well as the heroine herself, in favor of a more brutish struggle; "In fact," she says, "it is not Beauty's lack of love that almost kills Disney's beast, but a rival's dagger."
Stefan Kanfer writes in his book Serious Business that in this film "the tradition of the musical theater was fully co-opted," such as in the casting of Broadway performers Angela Lansbury and Jerry Orbach. IGN named Beauty and the Beast as the greatest animated film of all time, directly ahead of WALL-E.
- Main article: Beauty and the Beast (video)
Beauty and the Beast 2-Disc Special Edition (Platinum Edition) DVD was released on October 8, 2002. It was Fully Restored and Remastered with an All-New Remixed Soundtrack. The special edition includes a deleted song called "Human Again". The Special Edition DVD went to the Disney Vault (out-of-print) on January 31, 2003, along with its sequel (Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas). On October 5, 2010, Beauty and the Beast was released on Disney Blu-ray and again in Disney Digital 3-D.
The film was released from the Disney vault on October 5, 2010, as the second of Disney's Diamond Editions, in the form of a 3-Disc-Blu-ray Disc and DVD combination pack; representing the first release of Beauty and the Beast on home video in high-definition format. This edition consists of four versions of the film: the original theatrical version, an extended version, the New York Film Festival storyboard-only version, and a fourth iteration displaying the storyboards via picture-in-picture alongside the original theatrical version. The bonus material contains never-before-seen art, making of video, and interviews along with new games activities. A two-disc DVD edition was released on November 23, 2010. It was also announced that Disney would release 3D Blu-ray in October 2011.
A 25th Anniversary Edition of the film was released on Digital HD on September 6, 2016, and on Blu-ray/DVD on September 20, 2016. It got a 4K Ultra HD release on March 10, 2020.
Signature Edition Videos
- Originally, when plotting with Monsieur D'Arque to blackmail Belle, Gaston and LeFou were going to actually visit the Asylum, and we would have seen its interior. This scene was cut from the film as it would have been much too disturbing for a Disney movie, especially with the insane laughing and yelling from the patients.
- Originally, Beast was to have brought back a deer he had killed in the forest to the castle and eat it in an animalistic manner, but it was cut because it would have resulted in the audience viewing him with disgust, and not with the intended sympathy. Nonetheless, the Beast hunting for his food in a more animalistic manner is still implied in the film with the presence of a rotting rib-cage being seen briefly in the West Wing.
- In previous drafts, Belle was intended to meet with some servants in the Beast's Library shortly after being given it by the Beast, although it was cut for time constraints.
- Originally, Gaston was going to stab the Beast a second time before Beast knocked him off, though it was cut to tone down violence. In addition, one of the earliest renditions of the scene had him ready to shoot the Beast with his blunderbuss, only for Belle to stop him by whacking him in the head with a slab. This would cause Gaston to lose his footing, and fall of a cliff. Upon landing, he would have survived with only a broken leg, only to be mauled to death by the same wolves Belle and Maurice encountered.
- The theatrical version only has the song "Beauty and the Beast" at the end credits. The IMAX and Special Edition versions have the song and the unused score "Death of the Beast" due to having longer credits involving the addition of "Human Again".
- In the stained glass image at the beginning of Beauty and the Beast it looks as though the prince has two pedigree looking dogs; one white and one brown. But throughout the movie, there is one dog depicted and when returned to its true form it looks more like a mutt, that is Sultan.
- Beauty and the Beast is the first Disney animated classic (other than 101 Dalmatians, The Lion King and the first two Toy Story films) to feature the 2006 Walt Disney Pictures logo and the Walt Disney Animation Studios logo at the beginning of the film on current releases.
- There was originally talk of a sequel, where Gaston had a younger brother, named "Avenant" (named as a nod to Belle's unwanted suitor from French poet and filmmaker Jean Cocteau's 1946 adaptation of Beauty and the Beast), who would seek revenge for his brother's demise (and establish himself as superior to Gaston (their late-father's favorite), and finally stepping out of his shadow, once and for all); this idea was, instead, recycled for the sequel to the The Little Mermaid, The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea, with Morgana, sister to the late Ursula, claiming to be seeking revenge for Ursula's death, but really wanting to succeed where Ursula (their mother's favorite daughter), had failed.
- The animation at the end of Belle and the Prince dancing was actually reused animation of Aurora and Prince Phillip dancing at the end of Sleeping Beauty. This was done because it was near the end of production, and they had already gone over budget.
- This is the first Disney animated film to have a separate Spanish dub for Spain since their previous films released in that aforenoted country were Latin-American dubbings.
- According to Linda Woolverton, Beauty and the Beast's themes acted as the inspiration for the 2014 Maleficent film.
- The village was inspired by Alsace, France.
- During the song "Belle", Belle opens a door to a building, and when she exits the building, the door is closed, despite her not closing the door.
- Rothman, Lily (May 30, 2014). "The Same Woman Wrote Maleficent and Beauty and the Beast—Here’s How They’re Linked". Time. Retrieved on January 16, 2014.