Beauty & The Beast – Diamond Edition (1991/Disney Blu-ray w/DVD)
A Sound: A Extras: B Film: A
published in 1740 by French writer Gabrielle Suzanne Barbot de Villenvue Beauty and the Beast was quite a
different tale, but as with most of Disney’s translations or reimagining the
tale has been altered for the family friendly masses. That is not to say that is a bad thing. Disney tales have always been full of heart,
depth and detail unlike any other; just don’t expect to see to 16th
grit and scandal. Beauty and the Beast was released in late 1991 and was one of the
big contributors in the so called Disney Renaissance.
itself is as old as time (get it?!). The
story centers on a self absorbed prince who had been cursed for his selfish
nature; magically transformed into a ferocious and hideous beast. The fairy who cursed him gave him an
enchanted mirror to view faraway places and a single rose. The rose would bloom until his 21st
birthday and when the last petal fell he would be cursed as to live as a beast
forever. The only way the curse could be
broken is if he found someone to love and be loved in return before the last
petal fell. We are then introduced to
the beautiful and different Belle, who lives in a small town but has big
dreams. Belle loves to read and wishes
for magic and adventure. Her father
Maurice is an inventor who sets off to a machine fair to display his new wood
chopping machine, but on his way the inventor gets lost and comes upon the
is greeted by the Beast’s enchanted servants (all of which have been
transformed in furniture of sorts) who jump at the chance to entertain a
guest. The Beast discovers the intruder
and imprisons him. Belle worried for her
father’s safety is guided to the castle by Maurice’s horse. In an attempt to save her ailing father’s
life Belle offers to take her father’s place; the Beast accepts and sends her
father away. The tale sets off on a
journey in which the cold Beast tries to remember what it is to love and Belle
attempts to find light in the darkest of circumstances. This quest for true love sets up the base of
the tale, along with the stories true villain, the muscley and idiotic Gaston,
who sets out to make Belle his (unwilling) wife.
Beauty and the Beast is a classic through and
through. The hand drawn animation, mixed
with superb computer generated animation is amazingly breathtaking. The music by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman,
however, is what truly made the film.
There is not a single song that is not fantastic or noteworthy. From beginning to end the Broadway inspired
animated film utilizes music that has the audience singing along as they are
overcome by the inspiring songs and brilliant animation. Beauty
and the Beast is only one of two animated films ever to be nominated for a
Best Picture Academy Award and watching again here again on Blu-ray it is easy
to see why. Not to mention it was up
against JFK and lost to one of the
best films ever made, Silence of the
Lambs. Beauty and the Beast is a work of art. It could be hung in a museum next to the Mona Lisa and be appreciated for its
amazing style, depth and artistic fortitude.
I am more than certain that this already classic film will be even more
appreciated as time goes on. The film is
always found on the ‘best of’ lists and stands up next to the big boys like Silence of the Lambs and Citizen Kane as one of the best films
Disney wants to do it right, they do it right.
The 1080p 1.78 X 1 High Definition presentation is awe inspiring and is
certainly Blu-ray demo quality. The
colors leap from the screen as dark, inky blacks frame each moment. The level of depth and detail the picture
demonstrates is extraordinary. In the
pamphlet that is included in the set, the Blu-ray’s creators mention how they
went back to the film’s master (which had been used on all previous releases)
and found that there was a significant amount of dirt, debris and water
spots. In order to make it up to Disney
and High Def standards, the creators had to go through extensive checks to
remove all and any ill elements. THAT IS
WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT PEOPLE! Viewers
want a Blu-ray to be perfect; we don’t just want another format to collect.
is not a throwaway format and it seems that Disney is realizing this; though I
worry for Fantasia’s Blu-ray
release. The film’s picture is full of
life and as the faces and shadows go across the screen, the pristine picture
quality only heightens the experience.
The sound is a wonderful English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio (created by
original mixer Terry Porter) that utilizes the full speaker range from
beginning to end. The music is immersive
(as it should be) as every element comes to life around you. The viewer feels as if they are in the middle
of the film as the soundscape surrounds you.
Not only are the dialogue and music perfect with crisp precision, but
the amount of ambient noises and sheer volume of action going on around the
viewer is out of this world.
does not stand up next to the Blu-ray, but as it is from the same ‘cleaned up’
transfer as the Blu-ray it is a much better DVD than previous releases
also. The Picture is anamorphically
enhanced 1.78 X 1 and the sound is Dolby Digital 5.1 (Disney Enhanced Home Theater
re-EQed mix), both of which are well done but Blu-ray is the way to go.
extras include the three different cuts of the film; which are the Theatrical
Release (85 minutes), the Extended Release (92 minutes) with the song “Human
Again” added back in, and finally the Storyboard Version with producer Don Hahn
side-by-side with the original storyboards discussing the evolution of Beauty and the Beast. Also include for the Extended Edition is an
Audio Commentary with Kirk Wise, Gary Trousdale and Don Hahn that is
insightful, lively and fully explains everything you would want to know about
the film’s production. Other High Def
bonus features include Backstage Disney featurettes such as Beyond Beauty that goes into
excruciating detail about everything Beauty
and the Beast, Composing a Classic
that has Hahn, Menken and Disney Historian Richard Craft discussing the ‘ins
and outs’ of constructing a story with song and how to make it last forever,
and some Deleted Scenes (two total)
are included. The Deleted Scenes are lengthy (one a new opener and the other a
library scene), but were better left out as they would have changed the entire
feel of the film.
features include Broadway Beginnings, Sneak Peeks, Enchanted Musical Challenge
Game, Bonjur Who is This? Game and a New Beauty
and the Beast Music Video sung by Jordan Sparks; all of these extras either
being nonsensical advertisements, games or a so-so music video. Continuing with the plethora of extras Disney
has also (outside of all the HD extras listed above) to port over all the
extras from the previous Special Edition release. These include The Story Behind the Story,
Celine Dion Music Video and an Early Presentation Reel. Overall, great and insightful extras.
Disney fan and/or Blu-ray aficionado would be crazy not to own this amazing
Blu-ray presentation. It is one of the
best on the market and sets the bar high for what is to come.
- Michael P. Dougherty II